Before I'd actually finished the Ballymaloe course I started working weekends at O'Brien's Chophouse in Lismore with chef Robbie Krawczyk. Sadly (through no fault of mine!) The Chophouse closed a few months after I'd finished the course. From there I went to work at Faithlegg House Hotel on my doorstep, with the particular ambition of wanting to brush up on my knowledge of coping with catering for large numbers. I worked there on day to day menus, but also gained valuable experience at the various banqueting events - weddings, conferences etc, the hotel regularly runs. I left there to team up again with Robbie Krawczyk at Dunbrody House where I worked at "The Local," a casual dining bar in the grounds of the hotel . There I gained experience and insight into a very different form of catering and service, which was both inspiring and interesting. Equipped with my previous experience in the industry, as well as the valuable learning over the course of my time at Ballymaloe, I felt ready to face a new challenge. So after lots of research and soul searching, a large dose of nervous trepidation and great excitement, I left set up The Three Sisters.
While I had worked on and off in the catering industry over the years, I did the 12 week course as I wanted to up my game and commit fully to a career in the industry. I had toyed with opening my own place over the years, but lacked the confidence and experience. The course really brought things into focus for me, and helped me to work on my own vision of what I wanted to do on many different levels.
Highlights and challenges of going out on my own? Highlights would be there freedom of being my own boss, the world is my oyster in terms of bringing my dreams and vision to reality. A particular highlight has been the very hands-on nature of my business. I love what I do and it is a real pleasure to share it with the wonderful people who come along to support my business and sample my menu. I've been getting great feedback from customers, and business has been building over the year…long may it continue. Which brings me on to the challenges…to sustain and build on the success of my first year in business. As is to be expected with any new business there has been stress and long hard hours. Trying to gauge what direction to go was one of the many challenges I faced, along with that of kitting out the restaurant and exterior, menu planning, building a team of reliable, pleasant and enthusiastic staff, learning the ropes of working with new equipment, budgeting, making enough money to pay all the bills etc etc! It's all been worth it though!
In terms of inspiration and becoming a food entrepreneur, I suppose I've always had quite an entrepreneurial spirit. I've been involved in a number of business ventures, but combining my passion for food and cooking seemed like something I could do. The course was enormously helpful in this regard. Darina and Tim have definitely been influential in helping me find the confidence and inner resources to go for it. They helped to demystify the industry for me, and were such fireballs of positivity and encouragement. Their mentoring definitely put me on the right path.
I'd highly recommend the 12 Week Certificate course. Whether you are someone who has an interest or curiosity about food and would like to immerse yourself into an experience that will enhance the enjoyment of a hobby, or whether, like me, you want to commit to a serious career in the industry, there is something for everyone in the course.
Opening The Three Sisters has been a life changing experience for myself and my family. The restaurant is a welcoming, casual eatery, located at The Saratoga Bar on the spectacular Woodstown Beach in Co Waterford. We like to think we are in THE best location in Ireland, and I know our regular customers would agree! We run a day cafe, catering from morning to the many walkers and visitors to the area with teas, coffee, home baked goods and breakfast. We open through lunch with a lighter menu along with our hugely popular pizzas from our wood fired clay pizza oven. In to the evening we serve our full menu, which is also available in the cosy bar. At weekends we pull out all the stops, with our Sunday Roasts, which we cook outdoors over flame. With the inclement weather conditions in recent weeks the outdoor flame roasts are temporarily on hold, but we will be back doing our thing as soon as mother nature gets back on track, when I look forward to getting back to roasting our favourites - full hogs, lambs, chickens and beef. We've got lots of outdoor space with our beautiful garden looking directly on to the beach. We put up a marquee over the summer and hosted a few wonderfully successful large parties and weddings. My menu, I would describe as down to earth, quality food at a fair price, with an emphasis on local, seasonal produce.