Make a meal of it: How to promote your food business pivot

Live scribing by Orlagh O’Brien for Fáilte Ireland

The past year has seen the biggest challenges Irish hospitality and food businesses have ever faced. Yet despite the constant battle to simply survive many businesses have managed to pivot and take imaginative approaches to adjust their business which has usually meant shifting their focus to the online world.

This was the topic of discussions of a recent Fáilte Ireland webinar I was part of – How to Maximise your Opportunities for Online & Off-premise Sales. I was on a food writers panel along with Gillian Nelis from The Sunday Business Post, food and wine journalist Aoife Carrigy and hosted by the brilliant Olivia Collins director of Food PR & Communications. We got such strong feedback from food businesses during and after the event I thought it would be worth sharing some of my notes from the discussions (below). Here’s the full video of the event also, teed up to Olivia giving an excellent overview of how to tackle doing your own PR, followed by the panels advice on pitching and promoting your pivoted business.

Fáilte Ireland National Food Tourism E-commerce Webinar

Making a meal of it

There’s no denying that the big restaurant pivot has been the arrival of the ‘box’ in many guises. Take-away boxes, finish-at-home meal kit, drinks selections. And while they may sound like cool add-ons to a business, they are in fact most peoples attempt to stay afloat and keep their brand alive during these strange times. So how do you get your box noticed? And how can you get and keep those orders coming in? 

Google yourself

My first bit of advice was a question – can you be found? Google yourself. What shows up? Where does your information live online? And then is all your information up to date. Are your opening hours there? Are your contact details clear? It’s important to do this online audit regularly to check what customers or media will find when they look you up. These days your online profile is your only shop window so you want to make sure the display looks as good as it can. Social media and PR go hand in hand these days, so you need to make sure your house is in order before you start putting yourself out there.

Social Media matters

Don’t be afraid of social media – it’s a great way of getting the word out to customers and to the media. If your customers are on these platforms then you should be too. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are easy ways to share news, information and updates once you get the hang of them. And they also allow your customers to tag you, share their experiences of your business and spread the word organically. 

Content – you already have it, just be creative

You already have your stories. Your menus, ingredients, your suppliers. They are all stories to be pitched and content to be shared on social media. What is unique in your offering? Are you supplying food that you wouldn’t be able to create at home? Does it represent your local area? Are your ingredients special or foraged? Does your kit deliver a big impact for a small effort? Will it teach me skills at home? Find your point of difference or the star in your story and shout it loudly and clearly. Start with a simple list of everything you do. Then a list of what you’ve got coming up to promote. I bet you’ll end up with a strong list of content to share. When you’re contacting journalists try to editorialise your story, think about what you want them to say about you.


Photos are so important. Go back to what I said about the shop window, your Instagram grid, your Facebook page, these are your shop windows. If you can invest in at least one batch or professional photos do that. Watch what Olivia has to say about photos in the video above, she has some great advice. For everyday photos for social media, a phone works great, just find a nice bright spot to take photos, and figure out your style. Is there a wall or some scenery that will make a good background? Finding one or two spots that work and reusing them adds a consistency to your photos. It’s a good idea to make a list of all the photos you need to sell your offering and get them ticked off as you work, or spend a few hours getting them all done and ready for when you need them. 

Target and Tidy

Another list is needed for a targeting plan. Where do you want your offering or story to appear? Who do you want to write about and notice you? Start with that list. Remember local news can be just as effective as national news. Make sure you are following the relevant people writing and talking about food like yours. Plenty of writers, radio shows etc. do call-outs on Twitter. Most journalists and creators will have their email or a way of contacting them in their profile so you can easily build up a contacts list. It’s worth tidying up who you follow on social also. Do a bit of Marie Kondo on it. You should treat your time on your business social media as another part of your job. Only follow relevant food and media accounts so when you do go on there you won’t get distracted.

Time & scheduling 

You need to spend time on social media, responding and engagement matter, but it’s also easy to lose yourself in it. Set timers when you use social media to avoid losing chunks of the day to scrolling. Remember all your content can be planned out and scheduled in one go instead of panic posting daily. Write out a list of what you want to talk about each week then plan it out. Maybe Tuesdays are for sharing your menu, Thursdays you talk about a supplier etc. Facebook Creator is a fantastic tool worth getting to grips with, it allows you to schedule Facebook & Instagram posts easily. 


Yes more lists! This time I’m talking about ‘Listicles’ – articles that are written in a list-based format. They are a great place to be, whether it’s a listing in your local paper, on a blog or Instagram post or printed press. Lists are where many people look for recommendations. Make a list of the lists you’d like to be on. Are you hoping to be featured in McKenna Guides or Georgina Campbell’s Ireland? Then think about who else is featured on their lists. And how did they get there? What are they doing that’s different? There are also some great places online that give good exposure. All The Food is excellent if you are Dublin based, the Gastro Gay’s Irish Food List is a widely used for nationwide delivery options. Figure out where you’d like to be and then focus on how you can get there. 

And lastly….

Be aware and be nice 

Be aware of who you engage with or who contacts you. There may be people with lots of followers but are they relevant to you? To your business. Don’t feel you have to give freebies if asked.

Don’t tag people you don’t know in posts. If you want draw someone’s attention to a post, send that post to them by direct message. They may or may not share it but it’s a better approach than just tagging something of no relevance to them.

Most importantly though, remember to be nice online. There is great support and good vibes out there in the food industry. Remember to tag and promote others or comment and congratulate when you can.   

I hope you’ll find some of this useful. Do get in touch if you have any questions & good luck!

Delicious reads: Food fiction to feast on

The genre you didn’t know you needed in your life… and your kitchen

Chefs memoirs are usually the go-to reads for most food fans but what about the world of food fiction? From murder mystery to high brow delicacies and pure escapist romance there are many genres to delve into and this list is just a little amuse-bouche of the ones I’ve tried and enjoyed. If any of these tales do tickle your tastebuds, I urge you to please check with you local bookseller, see if they can order it in for you, before you look further afield. Let’s try and keep it local. Alternatively, most can be found to download if you’re an e-reader. Either way, get ready to be hungry…

Bloomsbury Publishing

Bone in the Throat by Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential is, without doubt, the must-read memoir for any kitchen fan but did you know he dabbled in crime fiction also? Bone in Throat was his first novel about sous-chef Tommy who just wants to cook, but his mobster relatives are finding the kitchen can be used for more than just food prep. It’s a colourful, delicious blend of cooking and New York gangster vibes – a recipe for a great read. Gone Bamboo, his second wise-guy story has less food and more gore but worth a read, if you can track it down. 

The Food of Love by Prue Leith

Well known to most of us as a judge on TVs Great British Menu and Masterchef, Prue is also an accomplished writer. As well as her numerous cookbooks she’s published an endearing selection of escapist romance novels full of food. Her first of these, The Food of Love, follows the age-old story of a proud family and a daughter that runs off with someone unsuitable, all set against the backdrop of the English countryside during World War 2. A well written, enjoyable love story with plenty of eating, cooking and farming to whet your appetite and imagination. 

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Anyone who’s ever attempted to keep a sourdough starter alive will enjoy this read. We follow Lois Cary as she goes from coding in Silicon Valley all day and collapsing at night to being responsible for a very active sourdough starter she acquires rather hesitantly from an illegal food delivery service she’s come to rely on. The ‘Clement Street Starter’ as she names it, introduces her to a whole new world in stark contrast to her usual life. It’s a breezy, light-hearted read with plenty of bread, baking, farmers market food and a host of entertaining and intriguing characters in her hip San Francisco food world. 

The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester

The opening line in Debt to Pleasure is  ‘This is not a conventional cookbook’. And it’s true, it’s not a cookbook, or any sort of conventional book, but a rather an eclectic novel, with recipes. It follows Tarquin Winot (real name Rodney), hedonist, food obsessive, snob as he travels through France telling the story of his childhood through a series of elaborate menus and food references. The high style it’s written in makes it all the more entertaining as you ease into the murderous element of the story and you realise its actually a wickedly funny tale. And the food descriptors are exceptional. Expect to be hungry. 

Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles by A.L. Herbert

Any cosy crime fans out there? Did you know there is an entire sub-genre dedicated to culinary cosy crime? Basically think Murder She Wrote, with food and you’ll get the idea. There always an amateur sleuth that loves to cook, a murder often by poisoning, a quirky cast of characters and a trail of clues to follow. These books are pure escapism and there are many to explore. Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles by A. L. Herbert follows Mahalia Watkins chef-proprietor of Mahalia’s Sweet Tea in Maryland’s USA as she solves mysteries while making soul food. Then there is Vivien Chen’s Noodle Shop Mystery series where Lana Lee finds herself playing detective in between serving up sweet and sour in Cleveland’s Chinatown. And Joanna Fluke’s Hannah Swensen Mystery have as many murders as there are cake recipes. And those are just for starters.  

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

You may have seen the delectable movie version but trust me, the book is even tastier. Set in a fictional, picturesque French village it tells the story of chocolatier Vianne Rocher as she attempts to settle into her new rural life. The story jumps from the pages with magical descriptions of the tiny French village, the characters within it and of course the mouthwatering chocolate. It’s also part of a series, so you can continue your journey with Vianne and Anouk in The Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur le Curé and Harris’ most recent book, The Strawberry Thief. 

The Sunshine and Biscotti Club by Jenny Oliver

Romance fans need look no further than Jenny Oliver’s batch of tasty tales. Her books are full of will-they-won’t-they love stories, and her The Cherry Pie Island series are all based around kitchens and cafes. This one is set in Tuscany and follows unlucky in love Libby as she opens a cookery school with the help of her friends. You can probably guess what happens from the outset but who cares when you can immerse yourself in this world of ‘love, laughter and ice-cold limoncello’ and imagine for a bit that life is a simple as this. 

Murder Most Delectable edited by Martin H. Greenberg

A collection of short stories with culinary crimes at their centre this is a raucous book filled with tales of crime and mystery that all centre around food and drink. Writers featured include the wonderful Joyce Carol Oates, Rex Stout, Stanley Ellin, Ruth Rendell and plenty more. Expect delicious deception on every page.

Beyond Chef’s Table: 8 great watches for food lovers

When it comes to great food on our screens, much like choosing a restaurant, it’s about more than just the food. I’m looking for entertainment, a bit of education, some good storytelling and a bit of suspense in there too. Basically, something to keep me interested beyond the perfect icing or slow-mo chopping. For me, these are some worthy watches, a feast for the eyes and good TV to boot.

This article originally appeared on in March 2020

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Watch here on You Tube

If you loved Chef’s Table, then Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a must watch. It’s directed by David Gleb, one of the Chef’s Table creators and this was his first foray into this style of food documentary, focusing on one chef, and telling his story in depth. And what a chef to focus on. Jiro is a master of his art yet he still struggles for perfection and we watch as his son tries to step up to his father’s legacy. Beautifully shot and told, this story will keep food and non-food fans enthralled in equal measure.

Julie & Julia

Available on Google Play and Sky Store

Oscar-nominated Julie & Julia is a glorious example of how food on film should be — heartfelt without being sickly and full of funny moments and French cuisine. It’s based on Julie Powell’s blog and memoir of the same title interweaved with the story of Julia Child, a famous mid-century American cook played by Meryl Streep. Brought to life by rom-com doyenne Nora Ephron, it stars Amy Adams as Julie Powell cooking her way through Child’s cookbook and features food’s favourite actor, Stanley Tucci. If comfort food was a film, this would be it.

Street Food

Available on Netflix

Another well made Netflix food show, this first series focuses on Asia, stopping at nine cities and telling their street food story and introducing us to some wonderful food hawkers. In Bangkok, you’ll meet chef Jay Fai whose street-side restaurant has a Michelin star and the Indonesia episode introduces us to Mbah Lindu, a 100-year-old woman who has been selling gudeg (unripe jackfruit stew) for 86 years. A pleasurable, hunger-inducing and educating watch, but maybe keep the phone nearby for food orders.

Big Night

Available on Google Play and Sky Store

You might have to search to find this but it’s worth it. It’s a 90s film about a restaurant in 1950s Jersey Shore, directed by Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott. Tucci stars in it also and you’ll see some other familiar faces. The food-filled comedy-drama focuses on two brothers who own a restaurant called Paradise, where they are struggling to find a balance between cooking authentic Italian food and what they think people want — spaghetti and meatballs. On this Big Night in question, they are preparing a feast for Italian-American singer Louis Prima, who’s in town and they are hoping will come for dinner. Drama, hilarity and everything else you’d expect ensues. All while they chop, sauté and taste. A drool-worthy and entertaining watch.

Ugly Delicious

Available on Netflix

Ugly Delicious is a brilliant eight-part Netflix series where chef David Chang, of Momofuku fame, travels around the world to discover where some of his favourite food comes from. It’s not your typical food travelogue — David gets to the heart of a dish, looking at the history and culture behind how they came about and how we end up eating them. He meets up with locals and friends along the way like Aziz Ansari, Jonathon Gold and Sean Brock to discuss the virtues of certain dishes. Much like the food he’s chasing down, the show is messy and fun and will leave you feeling very hungry and adventurous.


Available on Google Play

This is like Disney for grown-ups who love food. It’s that comforting package of feel-good factor, smiling faces, upbeat music and just a touch of jeopardy but it’s still a really good watch. Jon Favreau plays a chef who starts a Twitter war with a food critic, quits his job and decides to turn his skills to a food truck. So far, so clichéd. But somehow this movie manages to deliver on the feel-good factor and still have it all. The food is not dumbed down and you will walk away yearning for a Cuban sandwich.

Little Italy

Available on Google Play, Apple TV or Sky

If you’re a fan of the Netflix Hallmark movies or a very cheesy rom-com then this is a must-see. Otherwise, avoid. I’ll put my hands up and say I’ve no problem with a thoroughly foreseeable love story, and when there’s food involved, I’m ready to tuck into a feast of cliches. Set in an overly stereotyped depiction of Toronto’s Little Italy, Emma Roberts and Hayden Christian star as two young lovers from warring pizza families who try to hide their burgeoning affair. There are kitchen montages galore and busy restaurant scenes as the families feud and the lovers break up and makeup. Predictable perfection, with pizza thrown in.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Available on Netflix

This superb Netflix four-part series is based on the award-winning book of the same name by Samin Nosrat. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is a masterful guide to cooking, broken down into these four elements. Samin travels to Japan, Italy, Mexico and California meeting experts and hands-on cooks to delve more into these kitchen basics, how and why they came about and how they work to make our food taste great, all the while cooking some feasts and delivering recipes for us to cook at home. It’s a refreshing take on a food travelogue and a joy to watch.

Selfridges Irish Food Takeover

September was an incredible month for me, working with Selfridges in London on Taste the Emerald Isle 

From August to October they showcased the best of Irish food and drink in The Foodhall and across the store. I worked with them, Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland to curate three events that highlighted modern, exciting Irish food talent…

Monday 10th DinnerMonday 10th September:  Ireland’s best culinary talent dinner hosted by Clodagh McKenna

Bread and Butter – Louise Bannon
Former Noma pastry chef Louise Bannon is passionate about great produce and heritage wheats

Starter – Killian Crowley
San Pellegrino World Finalist and currently working at Michelin starred Aniar in Galway

Main  – Grainne O’Keefe
Head chef at Dublin restaurant Clanbrassil House, Grainne is one of the most talked about chefs in Dublin right now. Seasonality, sustainability and using a charcoal grill are her main influences.

Dessert – Aoife Noonan
Aoife is currently Head pastry chef at Glovers Alley and formerly head pastry chef at Patrick Guilbaud the only 2 – Michelin Star restaurant in Ireland

Cheese  – Mike Thompson
Creator of Northern Ireland’s first raw milk cheese, Young Buck.

Tuesday 12th EventTuesday 12th September: Carlingford Oysters & Glendalough Gin Evening with Simon Lamont & Geraldine Kavanagh

Monday 17th Ballymaloe Dinner

Monday 17th September: Ballymaloe Dinner with Rory O’Connell & JR Ryall

It was a privilege to work with such a talented team and show off Irish food in London.




What exactly are we eating?


Ever wondered how much chicken is actually in your chicken fillet roll? Should you be eating ‘heart healthy spreads’ or stick to good old butter? How ‘green’ is your green juice?

These are just a few questions looked at in series 1 of RTEs factual food show What Are You Eating? . I work as the Food Producer, alongside a cracking production and presenting team, where we attempt to dissect the truth about the food we eat in Ireland today. Series 2 is about to hit our screens soon and we’ve had lots of fun taking a closer look at the food that fills our Instagram and Facebook feeds. If you missed last series here’s one of my favourite (and most controversial) moments – The Chicken Fillet Roll with Philip Boucher Hayes and Hilary O’Hagan Brennan

What I ate – May 2016

Photo by Erica Bracken

Duck & Roll 

Let’s start with lunch at Chapter One because I am still thinking about the duck main course I had, which was perfectly pink salt marsh duck with a toasted sesame crispy coating. But I digress this was not about the duck but in fact about cake. It was a Barry’s Tea & Taste of Dublin lunch showcasing their collaboration ‘Cakes of Exceptional Character’. These extraordinary Victoria sponges featured flavours like Dingle gin, poached rhubarb and what was declared to be the best carrot cake ever by someone at my table. Each cake was inspired by chefs tales with lots of tattoo style print featuring. These pictures do not do them justice. Find them at Taste of Dublin 16th – 19th June. Sponge cakes has never been so rock & roll.

Udon even know me 

If you do know me you will know one thing I love even more than food puns is ramen. And so I am overwhelmingly happy that the aptly named Ramen Bar has opened in Dublin. It’s hidden down the back of Kokoro on South William Street. And they are doing it so right. Ramen is all about the broth. Real, deeply flavoured broth. And while much fuss has been made recently of bone broth, it’s healing qualities etc blah blah… Real ramen broth or tonkotsu is all of these things and more because it will also contain the most divine, slippery, just biting noodles. And these noodles! They make their own fresh beautiful noodles on site with an impressive looking machine they brought over from Japan. I love it. Go, please, and order the Tonkotsu pork or the Spicy Salmon with extra garlic and get stuck in with your chop sticks and slurp your way to the bottom. (Forget your manners with ramen, slurping is OK!). Deal or noodle.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 10.39.11

Lit-erally the best weekend 

Ballymaloe Lit Fest deserves it’s very own huge piece but luckily for me both Marie claire Digby & Erica Bracken have already given brilliant round ups and they seem to have gotten around to a lot more than me. It’s simply an incredible, magical weekend for anyone who is really into food. The highlight for me was without doubt Saturday night dinner at the Cookery School with Mews Restaurant, Baltimore in residence. The menu was genius in it’s simplicity, sharing plates at sharing tables and they were tables you wanted to share with. Ottolenghi, Elisabeth Luard, Pat Whelan, Skye Gyngell, Prannie Rhatigan, Darina & Tim Allen were all dining – no pressure in the kitchen then. Stand out dishes? All of them really. Irish asparagus from Cape Clear Island, the freshest clams, delectably cooked turbot on sea weed, Manganlitza pork served pink and melting, the best smelling salad I’ve ever encountered straight from the cookery school gardens. The matching drinks by Mews sommelier Rani Parish, were surprising & inventive featuring English ‘champagne’, cider, White Gypsy beer and a Bertha’s Revenge gin martini. A refreshing change from the regular wine flights. Even the legendary Hugh Johnson agreed on this as we split a cab with him back to the Big Shed. What a night.

The flip side – Chinese Courgette Pancakes

IMG_1362Growing up Pancake Tuesday was a pretty significant day on the calendar, despite the fact that it marked the beginning of lent and that meant giving up sweets and putting any money you had in the Trócaire box. It also signalled that winter might be coming to an end (well it wasn’t as dark when you left school) and even better St. Patrick’s Day was around the corner. That meant a green ice cream and then not long after Easter beckoned, full of creme eggs and the promise of roast lamb. I knew there was good eating ahead…

Firstly though there were pancakes to be had. Time to stuff your face with stacks of flat round friends sprinkled with sugar, lemon and butter drizzling around your hands. I adore this distinctly Irish way of eating them and I’ve got the easy, old school pancake recipe here . I’m so tempted to have them for dinner but my sweet tooth has been replaced by an Asian tooth (if that’s a thing?) and it’s Chinese New Year so these Chinese Courgette Pancakes ticked all the boxes. They are simple, as a pancake should be, and I serve them with my version of Ching-He Huang’s dipping sauce. They also make a great breakfast and they happen to be dairy-free. Go on, take a whisk…


1 courgette
1 bunch spring onions, green bits removed, sliced finely
4 medium eggs
80g buckwheat flour (or any flour you have)
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Dipping sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese vinegar or mirin
½ red chilli, deseeded & finely sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled & finely sliced
1 tsp parsley leaves and stems, finely chopped

Turn your oven on to warming (100c) and put a plate in.
Wash your courgette and slice up using a mandolin if you have one, if not use a box grater.
Into a large bowl, crack your eggs and whisk together with a fork. Add in the flour, Chinese five spice and sesame oil. Mix this all together well and leave for 15 mins. Meanwhile mix together your dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Your batter will seem too dry for a pancake batter but the water from the courgette should start to seep out and make it looser. Give it a mix and see. If it’s still not loose enough for pancake batter after 15 mins or so, you can add a little water to loosen it. Make sure to mix well.
Get a non-stick pan on medium to high heat. Have oil ready for frying and some kitchen roll handy. This and having an oven on warming in the best way to make lots of pancakes.
Using a big spoon or small ladel scoop out a spoon of your batter and get it into the pan, making it into a circular shape. It will cook really fast, less than a minute each side. When the edges look cooked, turn with a fish slice or flip if you are brave. Cook on the other side and then remove from the pan and pop into the warming oven. Keep the kitchen roll close by to wipe the pan out between cakes (off the heat!) to avoid too burning the oil and tainting your pancakes. You will have a stack ready to go in no time.
Serve them piled high with dipping sauce and a little Sriracha.

Happy Pancake Day!

Veganuary. What I’ve learned so far…

I’m more than half way through Veganuary now and so far so good. Here some of my surprising observations, other than it being an easy way to wean yourself off cake and beer after Christmas..

It’s not the meat that’s the hard bit – it’s the dairy.

Meat and fish are surprisingly easy to cut out. That’s the straightforward bit. But the dairy, oh the dairy! Normally not eating meat I’d throw in a bit of cheese. Feta would solve a lot of problems. Or eggs. But these options are obviously gone. Then there’s also the not so obvious. The most bizarre things have milk in them – like dry roasted peanuts?! There is a lot of labelling reading and googling while shopping. But probably what I miss the absolute most is my daily flat white. Almond, soy, rice milk – they don’t cut it. They’re not meant to be served heated. Not to mention that fact that they are mostly water. A flat white is what I long for not bacon or steak like I originally thought it would be…

You really have to think before you drink

I knew Veganuary would mean laying off my favourite whiskey sours (made frothy with a little egg white). But I hadn’t factored in that most wine and beer are not vegan. These alcohols are filtered through fining agents to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness etc can involve anything from casein (milk protein) to chitin (fiber from crustacean shells), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil, gelatin and isinglass can be used. Thankfully there are lots of newer winemakers that are vegan-friendly using plant casein, limestone or silica gel for this process. You just have to do more label reading. If it’s vegan friendly it will say it. O’Briens have a really good selection and I picked up a few bottles in Dunnes Stores. I also called ahead at Forest Avenue the other night and they had two really good wines to choose from. Oh and Guinness is fully vegan as of last year so that’s keeping me fairly happy.  

You have to be organised

It does take some planning to eat well and enjoyably as a vegan. We were filming just outside of the city the first week, in an beautiful location where the was food delightfully homely but everything had meat or dairy. I ended up eating a wrap with just cucumber, peppers and lettuce, toasted. No sauce, oil, nothing. The lady who made it said ‘Don’t choke on it now, I’d hate that to be my last meal’ as she looked at my ravenous face…

I learnt my lesson – call ahead! Most places are happy to accommodate with a bit of notice. Last week was much better. I had an incredible experience at Forest Avenue where they not only had a vegan tasting menu available the chef also sent us out a few extra tastes and mine were all vegan. Not once did I feel awkward. And the food was amazing. 

You will eat better

There’s no way around the fact that you’re going to eat a lot more plants. And more lentils, beans, nuts, seeds – all those things you usually buy and then forget about and you end up spilling all over the cupboard (maybe that’s just me). By default you won’t eat as much baked goods, mostly full of dairy and eggs. I’ve had a weird amount of birthdays so far in January and not had ANY cake. The most painful being TWO pavlovas in my house in one week. (Thanks Halina). And as I said there is a lot of label reading so you’re going to think more about what’s actually in everything you are eating. You start to make different choices. 

Veganism is not as funny as it seems

I’ve been having serious guilts about how mean I may have been to vegans and vegetarians. Admittedly some the jokes are still funny (the one about the vegan on a plane, no?). It think it’s still funny because you actually have to say ‘I’m a vegan’ a lot when you are eating vegan. And then explain/ apologise about not eating animal products in so many situations – coffee shops, bars, restaurants, tea break at work, birthday parties. And then people make really unfunny jokes. That’s not great. I will definitely be more selective with my vegan humour going forward…

These things will really help

My vegan discoveries & saviours. Admittedly my list is probably very Dublin focused but might be some good ideas!

Happy Pear sundried tomato pesto – on toast, pasta, sweet potato, pretty much anything

Coyo yoghurt – super tasty on breakfast & desserts

Cocu boxes – you can substitute any meat for tofu. Easy vegan on the go.

Natasha’s and Nobo – the best vegan treats

Keen vanilla almond butter – when nothing but sweet will do

Instagram – I’ve had so many supportive messages & following #veganuary hashtag is great for ideas and advice

Happy Veganuary!

Help – I’m going vegan!

My happy days at Berties Butcher

Yes you read correctly. I’m going vegan – for January. This will be very unexpected to anyone who knows me. I am a dedicated animal product lover. I spent 2012 stocking the wonderful Berties Butcher with the best meats and trying to convince Melbourne to eat more of it. I put butter generously on & in everything. I am generally unbearable without my daily flat white and my morning eggs. I’m also not always the most supportive of vegetarians or vegans friends trying to convince them to come back to the animal goods, to simply make better choices –  Go on, have a little… Not all meat is bad! What about cheese? Who can resist cheese? You get the idea…

So what’s the deal – am I just jumping on the Veganuary band wagon? Well no, that’s just a happy hashtag coincidence. Have I had an epiphany? Well of sorts. And it’s not about the industry being bad, which I know lots of it is. (I always try and make very conscious decisions). What made the difference was being tasked with putting together a vegan eating guide and helping a dedicated meat eater go vegan for a month. I realised how little I knew. Yes I can tell you all the cuts of steak, make all the mother sauces and identify most cheeses by taste. I can write a healthy eating guide, a low budget guide, a seasonal menu. But ask me to write an interesting, achievable, tasty vegan guide for a month. Now that was hard. It’s like I’ve completely ignored veganism. I looked on my heaving shelves of cookbooks for inspiration and couldn’t find a single book that didn’t have meat or dairy. I trawled all my bookmarked recipe sites, pretty much the same. I realised that being a vegan is not easy. And being a food lover and a vegan is even more difficult. Not to mention a wine loving vegan!

So I thought I’d just put it out there and look for a little help & guidance. Share some of my discoveries. And say sorry to any vegans or veggies I’ve offended!

Apprehensively looking forward to a month of experimentation and challenges…



Barry Fitzgerald’s Bastible Opens

Photo from
Photo from

One of the most hotly anticipated restaurants in Dublin (by me anyway) finally opens it’s doors today. Bastible is on Leonard’s Corner, the edge of picturesque Portobello which is fast becoming the food spot in the city. Why so excited by it? Well the chef proprietor is Barry Fitzgerald who Dubliner’s will know as the opening chef at the brilliant Etto on Merrion Row. In addition to adoring his food at Etto, I’m enthralled by his impressive London CV which includes three of my favourites – Arbutus, St. John and The Harwood Arms. All Michelin starred but also all restaurants that concentrate on serving real food – always using seasonal and sometimes inexpensive ingredients but above all creating interesting dishes that you want to eat.

From a sneak peek at their soft launch last week Barry looks set to continue this ethos. A short, simple menu let the ingredients and cooking shine. Here are a few of the dishes…

Bastible opening
Food pictures from soft opening from Barry Rowan

The restaurant itself has a neighbourhood, laid back feel, thoughtfully designed with lots of space for the open kitchen – as it should be! As well as the short al a carte menu, there will be a bar menu with sharing options. Coffee comes from Cloud Picker (so happy to see restaurants start to serve local coffee!) and Sunday’s will see a proper lunch served every week – no brunch bandwagon here I’m glad to say.

Bastible, 111 South Circular Road. Dublin 8

Contact. +353 (01) 473 7409