Sarah May Clarke
Published 21/02/2010 | 05:00
She is heir apparent to one of the country's most prestigious restaurant brands. Sarah May has just made her debut in the industry, greeting and hosting customers at l'Ecrivain, the fine-dining landmark on the Dublin restaurant scene which her parents, Sallyanne and Derry, have run for nearly 20 years. Though just 19, she has adapted easily to providing the charming welcome required by the role. "I'm very chatty and outgoing," she says. "I think I get that from my mum."
She has broken the family mould by becoming a vegetarian. Having never enjoyed the taste or texture of meat, Sarah May has become something of an expert in fine dining, vegetarian style. She consults and advises on the vegetarian options in the restaurant. Last year, Derry Clarke brought out a cookbook, Keeping it Simple and, influenced by his daughter's taste preferences, he included a lengthy section on meat-free meals.
Growing up, she witnessed first-hand the sacrifices that go with success in the restaurant industry. "It was a bit hard," she admits of her parents' commitment to the business. "They were working 24-7 to get where they are now. I had a lot of au pairs when I was younger. It wasn't that it came first," she says, "but they had to give it their full attention, because it was the restaurant that put food on the table."
Sarah May has a strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit in her DNA. Having witnessed what her parents have achieved through talent and sheer graft, Sarah May feels inspired to push herself hard. "Watching them work so hard to get where they are today, it gives you a lot of ambition," she says. "It's something to live up to. I would aspire to be some sort of entrepreneur or proprietor. I don't want to be working under people."
Her parents have tried to discourage her from getting into the restaurant industry. "It's such hard work, and it can be very stressful," she explains. Still, hospitality is in her blood, so Sarah May is studying for a degree in marketing and event management instead. "Working in the restaurant is really good training," she says. "It's like event management, but on a smaller, more informal scale."