They say don’t mix business with pleasure, but for those couples with a shared passion and a mutual ambition to own their own business this maxim is often shattered.
The results of this rule breaking are all too evident in the food industry, with a host of culinary couples behind some of our favourite restaurants and cafes.
I, myself grew up watching my parents work side by side in the family bakery, and although business talk was, supposedly, strictly off the menu come dinner time, the anecdotes and stresses of bakery life made their way onto the table most days.
Closing in on thirty years in business together however, their unity, hard work and positivity is my enduring impression of their working relationship.
Still to this day she will unquestionably get up before 4am to help him get home “at some a reasonable hour,” and he regularly sends to our family WhatsApp group candid photos of her hard at work, capturing those moments where he’s in complete awe of her strength and spirit.
Undoubtedly it is both rewarding and challenging to work with your partner, but we’ve rounded up 14 other culinary couples in the Irish food industry who are mixing business and pleasure, with some delicious results.
People flock to Strandhill not only for the great surf, but for the fresh bakes, gourmet toasties and cool atmosphere at Shells Cafe. Dubliner Jane and South African chef Myles are the equally cool couple behind the seaside café and bakery. Since 2006 they have spilled every drop their love of their food and people into the space, baking everything is baked in-house from their seeded loaf, and brioche breads, to zingy lemon squares and buttery scones, serving copious amounts of tea to weary surfers, and presenting ever so Instagrammable dishes that are surely down to Myles’ previous studies in fine art. Right next door you’ll find their ‘Little Shop’ selling food produce, ceramics, more of their favourite things, and copies of the two cookbooks the pair have written.
Closing in on 30 years in business, Sallyanne and Derry Clarke have witnessed two recessions, moved three times, and launched the careers of some of Ireland’s best chefs, managers and service people from their restaurant l’Ecrivain. Since opening their doors in 1989, the pair have worked tirelessly to create a space that has become synonymous with exceptional fine dining experiences. In recent years they have become just as much as a media couple as they are a culinary one, keeping the restaurant on people’s radar with Derry’s RTE series Lords and Ladles, cooking slots on the Six O’Clock Show, and Sallyanne regular panel appearances on on TV3’s Midday.
When Monty’s opened its doors twenty years ago the then recently married couple Shiva and Lina Gautam introduced Irish people to the food of their landlocked central Himalayan homeland, Nepal. The authentic flavours of Nepals are accompanied by an accomplished wine cellar, born out of Shiva’s own personal passion. With Shiva running the business on a day to day basis, including shifts on front of house and in the kitchen, Lina was free to develop her career as a cookbook author and demo chef. She hosts classes on the last Monday of every month, popular events that are supplemented by regular TV appearances. Another thing they both have to be proud of is the recent launch of Lina’s retail product Pure & Simple, a range of ready to heat wholesome Nepalese meals now available in 12 SuperValus through the supermarket’s Food Academy.
The first pub in Ireland to be awarded a Michelin star, the award of the prestigious accolade to the Wild Honey Inn in 2017 has channeled the country’s attention to this unassuming restaurant in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, situated in the barren landscape of the Burren and along the rugged wild Atlantic coast. Becoming a media sensation was never a goal of owners Kate and Aidan McGrath for their business, instead they focused developing their own refined style of bistro cooking, using local and Irish produce, and creating a warm atmosphere that long ago earned them the attention of the locals, and Ireland’s most popular destination restaurants.
The small country village of Kildimo in west Limerick probably doesn’t have much in common with the mountainous city of Change Mai in northern Thailand, but despite their diverse backgrounds partners Conor Sexton and Jutarat Suwankeeree found common ground in their love of food. Their paths crossed when Jutarat, known affectionately as ‘R’, came to work work with Conor as duty manager when he was running Thai restaurant Koh, in Dublin city centre. The arrival of their daughter Emily sparked the couple to open a local restaurant near their home in Ranelagh. Opening Nightmarket in 2017, the couple have treated the people of Dublin to the chance to experience the genuine flavours of regional Thai home cooking and the attention to detail in cooking that R absorbed under her grandmothers guidance.
Both trained chefs, in 2014 Paul Hynes and Edwina Hynes opened La Côte Seafood Restaurant on the quays in Wexford. The La Côte ethos is built around their mutual passion for bringing the best local produce to the plate – it’s not uncommon to find the pair fishing for sea bass or foraging in Ferrycarrig for some wild garlic or Curracloe for samphire. Having worked in different roles in the catering and restaurant industry over the years, with Edwina at the helm of front of house and Paul as kitchen captain they channel their experience to ensure that service is all smooth sailing and dishes of the finest local produce are flooded with flavour.
Wade and Elaine Murphy might both hail from these shores but it was in Chicago, where Wade was working in the Four Seasons as Restaurant Chef and Elaine as AGM with the Fitzpatrick hotel Group, that their paths crossed. Coming back to Ireland with shared dream to open their own restaurant, after searching for two years they fell in love with the cottage of 1826 Adare, in Elaine’s home county of Limerick. Whilst maintaining the old world charm of the thatched cottage, Wade’s brand of modern Irish cooking, matched with Elaine’s seamless service have combined to win the restaurant acclaim and awards.
Vanessa Murphy and her partner Anna Cabrera, a native of Barcelona, had dreamed of opening somewhere to share their love of tapas with the people of Dublin. When the recession hit they decided they had nothing to lose, and pooled their resources and expertise in hospitality and business development, and Las Tapas de Lola was born in 2013. Pouring their passion for Spanish food, wine and culture into the Wexford Street gem, they have successfully recreated the friendliness of the neighbourhood tapas bar in Anna’s hometown and the best possible versions of their favourite tapas they’ve encountered on their extensive travel throughout Spain.
After falling in love with Melbourne’s brunch and coffee culture during a four year residence in Australia’s gourmet capital, Kevin Roche and Taurean Coughlan returned home determined to realise their long-term dream of opening up a cafe. After immersing themselves in Dublin’s up and coming coffee scene, the dynamic and dashing duo equipped themselves the the know-how to open Two Boys Brew along Phibsboro’s North Circular Road in July 2016. Kevin’s background in construction and design coupled with Taurean’s experience in media has seen what was a take-away chicken shop transformed into a slickly designed space, that serves dishes inspired by their travels in Australia, Berlin, Copenhagen, fantastic coffee, and a gorgeously curated social media presence, that has made TBB the darling of the northside borough’s blossoming food scene.
Just over twenty years ago Paul and Máire Flynn took the brave step of opening an ambitious new restaurant in their hometown of just 8,000 people, Dungarvan. Their risk paid off, and The Tannery is responsible for putting the small Waterford town on the gastronomic radar. The business-minded pair, who met on a blind date while Paul was on a visit to Dublin from London where he was working the Michelin starred restaurant scene, were not happy to rest on the acclaim Paul’s cooking attracted however. They have continued to innovate, adding to their offering a custom designed Cookery School, an atmospheric wine bar, and 14 room townhouse, set just around the corner from the restaurant.
Cavan is steadily building a reputation as a foodie destination, and no culinary couple is more behind the cause than chef Gearóid Lynch and his wife Tara of The Olde Post Inn in Cloverhill, in the heart of the Cavan’s Lakelands where the couple both grew up. Following a diagnosis of Coeliac Disease in 2013, Gearóid his used love of food and professional experience at Thornton’s restaurant, as well as the Michelin starred d Pied à Terre in London and Lea Linster, Luxembourg, to reinvent his repertoire and the dishes his family had always enjoyed for a new gluten-free lifestyle. Living locally with their four children, Órán, Lorcan, Emma and Eoin, the pair have also established a cookery cottage hidden in the grounds of the Inn.
In November 2015 chef Barry Fitzgerald and his partner Claremarie Thomas Bastible in Dublin 8, with no outside investors to support their risk of opening a neighborhood restaurant. Despite its modest exterior and simple decor it wasn’t long before the food Barry, former head chef at Etto, and his young team created did all the shouting necessary and in 2017 Bastible was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand. While Barry does his thing in the kitchen, with a graphic design background Claremarie brings a different set of skills to the table, ensuring the restaurant’s smooth running, though the influence of her vegetarianism does seep its way onto the menu. Last year the couple opened Clanbrassil House, a casual eatery just a few doors from Bastible that has already proved it can stand on its own two feet. This year they plan to expand Bastible’s sister restaurant into an adjoining space and add a coffee and sandwich shop.
Taking over the centuries-old Georgian property in 1998, Kevin and Catherine Dundon combined culinary flair and buckets of charm to restore life into Dunbrody Country House, in Arthurstown, Co Wexford. Reinventing the property as luxury hotel and gastronomic destination, while celebrated chef Kevin naturally took charge in the kitchen, Catherine, a former predisent of Ireland’s Blue Book, assumed responsibility for front of house, along with sales and marketing activities of the hotel, along with cookery school and spa that they have developed. Both intimately involved in the running of the business, they built a beautiful home in the grounds of the house hotel where they’ve raised three children, Tom, Emily, and Sophie.
Pastry chef duo Laura and Rory Gannon are the charming couple behind the impossibly beautiful creations at CakeFace Patisserie, Irishtown, Kilkenny. Both Ballymaloe Cookery School alumni , the pair took their budding love for pastry abroad working with some of the best pastry teams in France and London namely at The Savoy, The Connacht and Café Royal. Returning home, they opened CakeFace in 2015 sharing a slice of the pastry perfection they had encountered with their added quirky finish. Born of their mutual talent and determination, razor sharp lines, pops of colour, and strikingly fresh tastes (down to their insistence on local ingredients) have become their signatures.
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after completing a law degree, she went on to do a Masters in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.