January 2008 I sat down and asked my employer was Fenns for sale ? The reply I got was yes we'd like to offer it to you but you can't run this place on your own.....
That afternoon I got the phone call that grandad had passed away so the family gathered we cried we laughed but more importantly we celebrated his wonderful life. Time passed and cousins got talking and it was suggested I go into business with a cousin and his girlfriend so I did and in June on my grandfathers birthday we received the keys and five years on its been an emotional roller coaster.
In 2011 Fenn's received 4 national news papers reviews in 4 weeks Ross Golden Bannon Sunday Business Post enjoyed us as did Tom Doorley Irish Daily Mail and Pauli Tuillio Irish Independent but by god did Jack Power of the Irish Examiner did not like us our restaurant our food and our customers. We chose not to respond to him we let our customers do the talking and that they did with a few letters of complaint to the editor and huge support on social media.
I told myself il be grand il get through this. This was far from the truth my confidence was shot even though three of the country's most respected food writers gave me thumbs up and this newly appointed food critic to the Irish Examiner had managed to get to me to the core I often wondered did he know how he made me feel the months following his review.
It took me three years to find my feet as owner/ head chef when you work for an owner of a restaurant you maybe head chef, but in theory you are guided by the owners wants.
Fenn's began with three partners, now it's just me this business is hard and wasn't for the other two there are times you don't get a wage because staff, suppliers, landlords, revenue, local authorities, insurance etc come first iv had to make major changes in my personal life my family, customers and friends are a huge support they are my foundations that keep me upright.
Just over 2 years ago I realised I needed to get out their, so I took to twitter and engaged with people, Im a member of Eurotoque so i went to the AGM in Dublin Im a member of the Restaurant Association of Ireland so I went to their AGM and I went to a cookery demo and dinner in The Tannery. I was getting to know people and going to events on my own was no longer a big issue.
My business mentor my uncle Peter decided to send me up to his friend Kevin Arundle of the chophouse Dublin where a lot of hard truths were exposed Fenns was loosing money and need to move fast to avoid closure.
I haven't looked back since while we are not out of the woods yet we are getting places this year has been surreal I launched my first book the day after the RAI awards where I was short listed for my digital marketing at Fenns Miro's scones won top 5 in Goodalls Best Scone in Ireland, an article by Corinna Hardgrave in the Sunday Times listed me as a top female chef, Gillian Nelis of the Sunday Business Post featured the book and has included me in several articles over the year. Easy food magazine also featured the book as did many of the local papers The Echo ,the Cork Independent and the Cork News. I was also voted in to the Eurotoque food council.
Last Sunday I sat at my table at the Food and Wine Restaurant of the year Awards with every restaurant and chef that had been shortlisted in their provinces 10 from each and I was one of those people not just for restaurant but for chef too I tweeted and update my status on Facebook with excitement I was asked did I win something no I didn't but the sheer honour and pride to be in that room alongside the countries top restauranteurs and chefs was my prize and I got their myself through my hard work and dedication with my staff from fenns and the help of family friends and mentors
The last five years haven't been easy but i believe in Fenn's and my team we all have a great feeling about the next 12 months ahead