Chris Laidler is the owner of Covino on Northgate street

1.How are you? Recovering from a bout of COVID-19. Bored to death as a result of being stuck at home, but generally impressed by the marvels of modern medicine, vaccinations and our NHS. Wondering if I’ll ever smell or taste again.

2.How have you coped with lockdowns? They were mentally draining. I honestly found them to be a bit of a nightmare. The first couple of months were bliss. I was able to rest and enjoy family life like never before. But the world seemed to stagnate soon after, watching the business I’ve worked so hard for get financially dismantled brick by brick, I found it all quite depressing.

3. What does Chester mean to you? Home, but also home to a woeful council.

4. Favourite place in Chester ? The river.

5. Who/what inspired you in life? One of my first ever jobs seems to be the thing I think back to most for inspiration. It was 2006. I was a spotty teenager working as part of the opening team at the newly refurbished The Red House. I knew very little about waiting-on, food or restaurants at the time but I found the process of watching a building site turned into a beautiful restaurant space fascinating. I think I unknowingly got the bug for restaurants then. I felt a sense of ownership over it, despite only being a waiter. I’m still shit at waiting-on but I think about those couple of years quite a lot when trying to envisage how my own restaurant business might shape up.

6. If you could time travel, where/when would you go? I’m always crap at answering questions like this but perhaps a few nights of excess in Studio 54 in the late 70’s. They look quite fun when I’ve seen them depicted on TV.

7. Which person, living or dead would you take for an independent coffee or drink? I’d take Larry Tesler, the guy who invented cut/copy/paste for a long black at Bean & Cole

8. What was the last film you saw and was it any good? Blood Diamond. I’ve seen it before so knew what I was getting.

9. If you could choose one superpower what would it be ? One-click clean

10. What is the greatest memory of your life? Probably watching my son dragged out of my partners stomach.

11. If you could change one thing about Chester what would it be? Race day shithousery, or at least have a Racecourse who cares about the way in which our city is abused before/during/after the races.

12. Where do you see Chester in 5 years’ time? Towards the top of anyone’s list of places to live/holiday whilst in the North West. A genuine hub for independent businesses to flourish and build their brands. Perhaps more of the city centre will have been pedestrianised.

Pic: Covino

13. Name 3 things you hate Slugs. Bureaucracy. Chester Races

14. and 3 you love. Family. Butter. Crisp winter mornings.

15. What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t get mad, get even

16. Who would play you in the movie of your life? Jonah Hill

17. Describe your perfect day: Lie in. Watch a few Mount Everest documentaries. Boozy meal at Cornichon with all my family. A few episodes of American The Office. Pray to Jah. No work in the morning.

18. Name a famous person you have met. I met Ian Rush as a young boy. He and Bruce Grobbelaar gave me their autographs. The other month I saw Ian Rush nailing a French Onion Soup in the window of Chez Jules. I like how accessible A-Listers like that are in Chester

19. How do you feel about the future? Quietly confident, if the council can become more agile and open minded.

20. Fav album of all time, and why. Dr. Dre 2001. I spent my teens listening to it. I can’t relate with much of its lyrical material but I can rap it to you word for word. It ironically reminds me of simpler times.

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