Thursday 20 June 2019

'I look after everybody but myself all the time' - TV chef Clodagh McKenna

The Cork chef talks family cooking, eating good food and avoiding takeaways

Chef Clodagh McKenna. Photo: Dora Kazmierak
Chef Clodagh McKenna. Photo: Dora Kazmierak

Áine Kenny

"They say [the phrase] your 'gut instinct'... there's a reason for that. If your gut is not healthy, your mind is not healthy," Clodagh says. 

For Cork chef Clodagh McKenna, the idea of looking after yourself is paramount. She says that while kids need to be fed and parents work, people should put themselves first. "We tend to forget that."  

Women in particular neglect themselves, she says.

"We tend to look after everybody. I am 100 pc one of those people, I look after everybody but myself all the time... but I have to do a check."  

Clodagh thinks one of the reasons why people aren't cooking as much is the accessibility of takeaways. "It is so easy to call Uber Eats or Deliveroo. There is a time and place for everything, if you're sitting in on a Saturday night watching 'Killing Eve', you deserve a treat," she joked.  

"But on a day to day basis, it's really important to be cooking your own food. It's cheaper, and it's so much better for you." 

Time poverty is a potential barrier to eating good food, but Clodagh maintains our individual choices also play a role.

"[Cooking good food] is definitely a decision." 

She says a family-based approach where everyone helps with the cooking will save time. "I grew up in a really busy household, both my parents worked... when we got back from school, we had lists of chores that we had to do. I think that we can really learn from the past." 

For Clodagh, the initial costs will result in savings further down the line.

"For the first couple of weeks you might have to buy spices and olive oils, but that cost will all fizzle out once you have your stocked cupboard."  

The Ballymaloe-trained chef also believes in doubling up on recipes. "On a Sunday night do a cook ahead, so you're freezing one for the following week, and then just built up stock in your freezer." 

Clodagh thinks that simplicity makes a good cookbook. "Doing a baked potato with cottage cheese and herbs, or a chicken curry with six ingredients... they are accessible and easy to make, that is what this new Unislim cookbook is all about."  

"I really love the recipes in this book. They're all tuned into the things we like nowadays like Italian, Asian and Indian food," Clodagh adds.   

'Delicious' is available online and in Unislim classes for €12.99.

Online Editors

Editors Choice

Also in Life