Interview with leading chef & restaurant owner Clodagh McKenna (published in Inbusiness Autumn 2012)

There's something about Clodagh

Sitting in her newly opened chic restaurant, Clodagh Mc Kenna is excited about what the future has to offer.  Launched last September in Arnotts, the Homemade by Clodagh brand is the latest in a long line of successes for this Cork-born businesswoman.  This banner comprises a food court, food market and Clodagh’s Kitchen, the bistro-style restaurant which opened in early June.

Clodagh’s career has spanned a variety of culinary-related activities, including an instrumental role in setting up farmers’ markets in both Cork and Dublin, wirting her own cookbooks, hosting cookery courses and TV presenting for various cookery programmes. She can now add restaurateur to this list. 

A self-confessed perfectionist when it comes to food, this attention to detail is also evident also in the thinking behind the Clodagh at Arnotts venture.  The ethos is simple: locally sourced food served at a consistently high standard in both the café and for purchase in the food hall.

Pitching for the space in Arnotts was a fairly lengthy process.  Nothing fell on my lap. The complete opposite. We fought for her for a year, baking cakes bringing them in proposals-everything and there was a lot of people trying to get this. They really had to believe in it.’

Such dogged determination also came into play when she got her first UK publishing deal with Kyle Cathie.  Same with my book, back and forth to London trying to get a deal. I said if I’m going to do It I need to get an agent who deals with chefs and she was the agent for Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Rick Stein and she said no to me.  So then once a month I’d send her over a packet of stuff from Ireland-updates, clips from appearances in UKTV food…I just pushed and pushed and pushed.’  Now working on her fourth book, Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries, due out in October this year, it's clear that this tenacity has paid off. 

She always wanted to open her own restaurant: ‘I’d always thought that I’d do a restaurant later in my career-something I’d do at 40 or 50. There was no plan.’  It’s more a culmination of the trajectory upon which she found herself when she returned to Ireland after 3 years in Italy.  Then aged 33, she refers to this as a turning point.  I really need to set up for myself.  It was time to make my own mark.’

To read more of this published article, click here...