Ryan: I’m from Doolin in Clare. I went to catering college up in Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT).
After that I went to New York for two years and worked in some different catering companies, Italian bakeries, Italian restaurants and stuff like that.
Then I came back and worked in a few local restaurants around Doolin. After that I went up to Ashford Castle and did two years there.
I’ve done a few ski seasons too – two in France, one in Japan and one in Austria. After that I went to work in Killarney, that’s where I met Aoife.
Aoife: I’m from Crosshaven in Cork. I went to college in Cork, what was then Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). I studied hospitality management and graduated in 2019. Myself and Ryan met while we were working in the Europe Hotel, four or five years ago. After I graduated, we both decided to go to New York. I wanted to go and Ryan had already been and wanted to go back.
I was operations manager and Ryan was head chef at an Irish bar, as well as doing catering over there. We were only there for six months when we had to come home again in March 2020 due to COVID.
Aoife: When we moved home in March, we were both kind of lost. We didn’t know what to do. We honestly left New York in March thinking, “Oh, sure, we’ll be back again by the summer and it’ll be fine.” We didn’t think it would be that big of a deal.
I got a job in a local restaurant, but we kind of wanted to do more, so we started out doing afternoon tea. A lady down in Cork did it for my family and we were like, “Oh, that’s actually a really good idea.” My mom has a lot of China, so we were like, “We’re going to try to test the waters.” We did it for Ryan’s aunty and a load of her friends. They all loved it and they then booked us to do it. Through word of mouth, people started ordering.
Ryan: It all started from my mother’s kitchen. We were living with my mother for about six months, and that’s where it all kicked off. My mother owns a B&B in Doolin, so it’s a big kitchen and a big house.
It started with afternoon tea and then the platters, which was kind of around the time when everybody was doing picnic boxes. So we jumped on the bandwagon and things went crazy after that. Everybody was just so eager to do something and support anything local, that anything we kind of did worked out brilliantly, we were so lucky.
Aoife: Then Ryan came up with the idea of doing the three-course meal delivered. It’s a cooked meal, it’s chilled and it changed weekly. There was one lockdown which went for 16 weeks straight and we had to change the menu weekly. Last winter, Ryan did a video with a cooking demonstration on how to heat your meal and how to plate the food.
We kind of change with people’s ideas and what they ask us to do.
Ryan: That was November last year. We did all of our lockdown dinners and that’s what really put us out there, because not too many this side of Dublin were doing anything like that. At the moment, 90% of our business is in Clare, we do a good bit in Galway and some in Limerick.
During the summer, it got kind of back to what we initially wanted to do, all the christenings and birthday parties and communions. Before any of this happened I always wanted to do something along the lines of catering.
I’ve seen around Doolin it’s very seasonal. There was always that market there, and I was like, someday we’ll do something. I didn’t think it’d be that soon that we’d do it, but here we are. Slowly, a few weddings came along. We did our biggest one up in Juniper Barn in Sligo, that was for 80 people. This year was also the first summer that we were able to do private dining which was really good. Then we finally got to open the café in March of this year.
Aoife: The café is based at Doolin Cave. What we would love to do is be able to hold more events there in the evening time because it’s a beautiful building. It’s just outside Doolin, so it’s quite sheltered.
In the future, we would love to be able to supply a full kitchen, like a pop up kitchen. So if you did have your wedding in Monaghan or somewhere, we will be able to travel, set up a pop up kitchen and serve a wedding of 200 people. That is the aim.
Ryan: The goal is to have a restaurant, eventually. We’ll keep trucking away [with] what we’re doing now and try and do it that bit better all the time. And then, fingers crossed, have a larger restaurant in Doolin.