High Mood Food
THE BIG QUESTIONS
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?
Managing partner & executive chef.
WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
This is very hard to define… as with any start up I’m sure, the management role is varied… each week I’ll work on outreach & growth, draft quotes & raise invoices, look at our marketing strategies, run social media, plan events & collaborations, and – my favourite – plan new menus & develop recipes!
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?
I wanted to be an author, and would still love to write a book – hopefully a cookbook! Things didn’t change necessarily, I simply feel in love with food - yes the creation and enjoyment of food, but also how it plays such a crucial role within wider issues such as health, the environment, politics... A successful run on Masterchef the Professionals was a real game-changer for me. It gave me the confidence in my culinary abilities to ‘put my food out there’ as it were; I launched my pop-up, Hare on the Hill, shortly afterwards, and after a year of running Hare on the Hill I joined forces with Ursel to work together on High Mood Food.
WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?
I’m highly commended from Ballymaloe and have a foundation degree in Culinary Arts; I also have a BA in English Literature.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Don’t let the perfect steal from the good. I can be a perfectionist and this isn’t always helpful. Sometimes 80% ‘good’ is actually ‘great’, and the 20% can be appreciated as super useful learning opportunities rather than shortcomings.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
It’s not exactly a role model as such, but I look up to Michael Pollan enormously and his food philosophies have shaped my own; I don’t think anyone speaks more sense regarding the food industry, health and diet. His writing is the best, and he’s a fermentation enthusiast!
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?
In these early stages I love that the growth and momentum is palpable; it’s so energising. Week by week I feel that we become more confident, things get that little bit slicker, faster, and our volumes are creeping up.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?
I would love to reinstall more balance, by making time each day for exercise. I have missed my daily run or yoga practice enormously since we launched… the first 6 months were always going to be pretty all-consuming and, regrettably, I let exercise fell by the wayside. I’m now starting to prioritise this again – thank goodness!
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?
Our dream would be to have another café, perhaps a book, and have our range of krauts and kimchis in shops across the country. Our goal is to make the wonders of fermented foods accessible to as many people as possible – for the pleasure of their fantastic flavours, but of course for their numerous health benefits too.
DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?
WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?
We’re half and half. Our Front of House Manager is a woman and our Assistant Manager is a man. On the flip side our Head Chef is male, and his Sous Chef is female.
DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?
Yes, I think diversity is helpful. A mixture of different personality types creates a sense of balance.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?
It’s getting better! I get my work ethic from my dad who has always been an entrepreneur and is the hardest working person I know. When you love what you do it’s easy to simply keep going full throttle… but it’s not sensible for one's health of course, or conducive to good decision-making.
WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?
Organisation & passion.
ANY FINAL COMMENTS?
Having a business partner – particularly a lady as inspiring as Ursel! – is everything. The majority of my career has been solo freelance work, so having the support and friendship of a business partner is an absolute joy… a problem shared is a problem halved etc!