Marian Kilcoyne graduated from our 12 Week Certificate course in 2008 and went on to open The Pepper Pot cafe in Powerscourt Townhouse off Grafton St. in Dublin with her then business partner Dervla Conlon.
What prompted you to do the course?
Ballymaloe was my opportunity to turn my job into my career really. I was working for a major restaurant business in Dublin, in a front-of-house position. I loved it! I had built up a great deal of experience and enjoyed the buzz of the food industry but I was restless to put my own stamp on the market, and to do so right from choosing the raw ingredients through to creating the final food product, while also not missing out on being involved in the dining experience. That’s why you will see me now in the Pepper Pot – sometimes, doing the baking first thing, other times, calling away the food orders at the pass, and often delivering food and making coffees. I knew the moment I met Darina on day one, her farm-to-plate philosophy was just what I needed to know more about to make it happen for me. I had some fun!
Describe your journey post-Ballymaloe which led ultimately to the creation of your own Pepper Pot Cafe?
After completing the course I felt really energised. Armed with all these new culinary skills, I was eager to get stuck in. The first opportunity came straight to me from a small fish restaurant in Inis Oir. It was crazy, living on this tiny peaceful island and at the same time, thrown into the deep end of a busy kitchen. The pressure was on but all this wonderful fresh fish and lots of hand-on experience! From there I worked at the Cake Café in Dublin, another busy spot but this time with a city’s sense of urgency. It was there I met with Dervla Conlon and we began to plan our own venture in the Capital. It was no time really (2010) before we opened the doors of the Pepper Pot ….. on a bit of a shoestring I might add.
Tell us more about the Pepper Pot Café.
The Pepper Pot is now five years old. It’s hard to believe it! We opened during the recession in Powerscourt Townhouse, which was at the time becoming a little forgotten about, I think. Although it is right in the centre of the city and is an historical building of great appeal, it had lost its special atmosphere as I remember it having, as a youngster round town. I thought this was a great chance to tap into its old charm. Homemade baked goods was our primary vision – breads and sandwiches, soups, salads and sweet fare. We are now known for these, and in particular, our Pear and Bacon Sandwich and our homemade bagels.
What are your plans for the future?
This is an exciting time. Myself and Dervla now have a business each. She has moved back to Easkey and founded Pudding Row and I am going solo here at The Pepper Pot. It is the natural next step for us, and now, after a five year partnership, we are both individually ready to go it alone – although, really you are never alone. I am a big believer in collaboration; the whole industry is based on good relationships – with customers, colleagues, suppliers and friends – all good things come from such interactions. So, once again I am at a crossroads. The Pepper Pot is going to stay true to its original ethos, but there are exciting changes ahead too.