Friday 24 May 2019

Clodagh McKenna: My six months of hell with new business

Clodagh McKenna
Clodagh McKenna
Clodagh McKenna
Chef Clodagh McKenna. Photo: Ronan Lang.
Sonya Lennon & Clodagh McKenna pictured at the launch of the Arnotts Spring / Summer 2015 collections.
Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna. Photography by Tara Fisher.

Celebrity chef Clodagh McKenna has revealed that opening her restaurant in Blackrock was the hardest six months of her life.

Before opening her first stand-alone restaurant in the Dublin suburb in 2013, Clodagh (39) had opened Clodagh's Kitchen' in Arnotts department store, which she admits was an easier venture.

"People were saying, 'two restaurants, be cautious', but we were lucky to start out with a very established department store and they have an incredibly loyal customer base so there wasn't much risk involved there," she said.

"Then we opened up Blackrock in 2013 and the first six months were really, really hard.

"Nobody can prepare you. It was the hardest six months of my life I think," she added.

Clodagh (right) oversaw every part of the design of the Blackrock restaurant and admits she prides herself on attention to details as she wants people to have a wonderful experience in her eateries.

"I am a perfectionist, 100pc, I'm controlling in how I like things. But every business owner should be like that," she said.

"Because staff look to me for guidance and if I'm not precise in how I want something done then it will never be done like that.

"I want someone to come here and have a really lovely experience and feel that they've been really looked after - that they've had a little bit more special than where they might have been before," she added.

The blonde beauty has also had great success in the US with both her new cookbook, Clodagh's Irish Kitchen, and her TV show, Clodagh's Irish Food Trails.

"I'm lucky that my work takes me to the States as well and I could see their vision of Irish food wasn't how we are here," she said.

"They still feel we're the bacon and cabbage nation, but we are so much more than that. It wasn't my plan to break America."

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