“This place is my favourite leafy corner in the house; I love house plants. The chair I am sitting was my first ‘modern’ piece of furniture I purchased, it is an Yngve Ekstrom chair and I justified it by telling myself, while pregnant with my first child, that I needed it for breastfeeding! It is one of my favourites still.”
Ireland’s Cliodhna Prendergast of Breaking Eggs says that she spent a good chunk of her life trying to avoid doing anything but cooking for a career. But it was after becoming a mother to three children that she not only relished the skill that she has been cultivating over 20 years, but also set to take her journey one step further. “I found cooking with the children a great way of connecting with them,” says Cliodhna. She developed the idea to create a series of short programs to introduce parents and children to the whole food cycle - from where it grows to who cultivates, collects and prepares it. In the programs on Breaking Eggs Cliodhna brings the foraged food back to her kitchen and gets her children help to create family meals.
“I was brought up in the kitchen where there was a huge emphasis on the source of food,” Cliodhna says. When she was five years old, her family moved to Connemara and opened a country house hotel. “I never really left the food life behind.” She started working as a chef in Dublin while “not really” studying an Arts degree at university and learnt the basics at Ballymaloe Cookery School. After the birth of her third child she left her job as executive head chef at Delphi Lodge to concentrate on raising her young children. You can follow her family cooking adventures on Instagram and Facebook.
1 As a child I used to wear... leg warmers, in my dreams. I always wanted a pair but just never got them. I still want them, oh yeah, I’m an adult now, I can wear what I like!
2 My bedroom was... always different. We grew up in our family-run country hotel and during the winter we would move into the hotel, a different room all the time, several of them had pheasant prints on the sinks and toilets, funky!
3 When I was a teenager I used to... be a little crazy, a fun seeker. I have not changed much!
4 After high school I wanted to be... I never had a clue, I spent most of my life trying to do anything other than cooking. It was always my fail-safe job, never considered it a career. It took me some time, including failing lots of my college psychology/sociology exams while working in kitchens to support myself, to realise I actually loved it.
5 A seminal moment was... moving into our new home. We lived in a very cute tiny gate lodge, which was home and I loved it. But six years ago we built quite a modern house, lots of glass, on the lakeside in a very private spot, designed by a friend. The light brightens my life; it allows me to breathe deeply. It has changed the way I look at things in many different ways.
6 I never thought I would... be married to a man 11 years my senior but he is younger at heart than my four-year-old and has an incredible zest for life, he inspires me greatly.
7 I’ve learnt to... appreciate the work that goes into producing the food we eat: what a hard day of foraging means, the love that farmers have for the soil and their animals, the love the fishermen have for the sea. Meeting the producers while filming for our new series has been the most rewarding part, for all of us by far.
8 I know... how to make a good cocktail having spent two summers working in a Greek bar on the Island of Paros in Greece quite some time ago. I also know how to drink a pint of Guinness well!
9 I share because... I love the peace of living in Connemara, but sometimes it’s nice to feel connected to the rest of the world. I enjoy the banter.
10 If I had an unexpected morning to myself I would... organise all of my photographs on my computer and print the ones I cherish.
image courtesy of cliodhna prendergast