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We Are Women Clodagh McKenna

WE ARE WOMEN
Clodagh McKenna

 

Author- Clodagh McKenna

In the next of our series of #WeAreWomen profiles, we headed to chef and restaurant owner, Clodagh McKenna’s Islington coach house to find out how she keeps herself boosted and why cooking is good for the soul.

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Clodagh McKenna

What is the most empowering thing about your job?

The most empowering about my job is that I feel I can change how people look at food. On Sunday Brunch a couple of weeks ago I made some soda bread and, within a couple of days, over 300 people had sent in pictures of the bread that they’d made –I can’t tell you how empowered I felt.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I’ve ever been given is to take the time to get to know yourself then become happy with yourself.

Tell us about a time you felt empowered?

There was a moment about three years ago when I was in New York and I did this big pop up at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I remember cooking and sending out these dishes that were just pieces of Ireland and I knew that throughout the dinner people would be transported there and that was a real moment for me.

How do you give yourself a mood boost?

I have a ritual for those kind of days. I get up in the morning, usually quite early so it’s really quiet, and I run myself a bath. I make a big pot of coffee and give myself a whole half hour just to relax, to myself, in this big bubble bath. I then bake my soda bread and, when the smell of baking is everywhere, I feel like I can do anything – it grounds me.

Clodagh McKenna- Cooks at Home
Clodagh McKenna Out and About
Clodagh McKenna

What is empowerment to you?

Empowerment to me would HAPPINESS, CONFIDENCE and FULFILLMENT.

What’s great about being a woman?

What’s great about being a woman- so many things! First of all, our strength – I know so many incredible, strong women. Next, our ability to nurture and, finally, our passion – we’re so passionate about everything and we give it all!


WHY FOOD IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL 

With over 16 years in the food industry and five bestselling cookery books, Clodagh is an established foodie. We caught up with her to find out more about her journey through the world of food and why cooking is good for the soul…

What is your earliest memory of being in a kitchen environment?

My earliest memory of cooking is with my sisters on a Saturday morning – I remember them making my favourite rock buns.  We’d eat them when they were still warm out of the oven with Irish butter melting all over them. They were amazing and the house used to smell so intoxicating with this baking.  I guess that was my first lure into cooking.

What do you love most about cooking?

I love the smile that it puts on people’s faces, I love how the whole process of cooking relaxes me, and I love how it’s so good for your soul. I cook for my friends at least 3 times a week and it just relaxes people and everyone feels warm, nourished and looked after.

What is your ultimate soul food?

My ultimate soul food changes all the time as I’m always developing new recipes. At the moment I’m doing lots of soup with Irish potato dumplings. Last week, I cooked at Fortnum & Mason’s and did a wild nettle soup with little potato dumplings which had black pudding crumbled in the middle – I think they’re my soul food at the moment.

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What is your ultimate soul food?

My ultimate soul food changes all the time as I’m always developing new recipes. At the moment I’m doing lots of soup with Irish potato dumplings. Last week, I cooked at Fortnum & Mason’s and did a wild nettle soup with little potato dumplings which had black pudding crumbled in the middle – I think they’re my soul food at the moment.

What was the first recipe you ever perfected? 

It was probably when I was about 26 years old, and had 3 or 4 years of cooking professionally under my belt, when I started homing in on my own recipes and dishes. My first recipe was little raviolis which I put seaweed through and filled with really delicious Irish ingredients like goat’s cheese, fresh salmon and a wild garlic pesto.

How has Ireland shaped your approach to food and cooking? 

Because we are an island we have such incredible resources of really beautiful ingredients. I put so much attention into the sourcing – that’s number one for me because if you’ve already got the ingredients then the cooking is just finishing it off.

Where do you get your inspiration for cooking new meals?

I seek out inspiration for dishes everywhere and in every moment – I’m constantly thinking! I find it when I’m travelling, eating out, reading books – I have my cookery library here and I’m always reading foodie books when I go to bed!

How would you say cooking is good for the soul?

Cooking is so good for your soul and so important because you’re taken the time for yourself. When you eat good food, you physically feel better and when you physically feel better, you mentally feel better. Also it creates moments – if you think about all the great moments that you’ve had with family and friends they often revolve around a table or meal.

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