"My philosophy and thinking have been formed by the work of so many people over the years and I have simply found my own expression."
Raised in Connemara, Ireland, Cliodhna Prendergast spent much of her childhood in the kitchen, where there was a strong emphasis on foraging and food sourcing. Now herself a mother of three and a trained chef, Cliodhna is the founder of Breaking Eggs, a resource designed to bring children into the kitchen to work and play with food from a young age. Always keeping plenty of pots on the boil, Cliodhna is also a food writer for the Sunday Times and one half of Lens and Larder, a series of photography and food styling workshops.
What was the pivot point that set you on your current path?
Deciding to leave my position as Head Chef in Delphi Lodge after my third child was born allowed me time to explore my creative side and figure out what else the world had in store for me. I was deeply involved in the food of Connemara and loved every minute of work but, because of my busy schedule, I didn't have time to explore more deeply the role that it played in my life. Once I gave up full-time work, it gave me the time to explore the relationship with food, my family and my creativity. Along with my children, I filmed 30 episodes of Breaking Eggs, a series of short films encouraging parents to develop their children's interest in cooking, foraging and food sourcing. This led to meeting Imen McDonnell and together we created Lens and Larder; these are workshops in photography and food styling and special events. I now also write a weekly food and recipe column for the Sunday Times and am a regular contributor to the ongoing discussion on food and Irish Life.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s going through their own transformation?
Stay true to the thing that inspires you most and don't try to force a result. Don't discount anything, but don't try to do everything. You need to be able to think laterally as you never know where opportunities may lie, but you must avoid running down every rabbit hole. Remember, if it feels right it probably is.
Are you following the path of a trailblazer or being guided by a mentor?
While I am not following the guidance of a mentor in my work, I would not consider myself a trailblazer either. My philosophy and thinking have been formed by the work of so many people over the years and I have simply found my own expression. What I have found to be an enormous benefit over the past few years is an open discussion group that my friends and I have formed. We meet on an irregular basis to talk about what each of us is trying to achieve, our frustration and successes. These non-judgmental supportive group sessions have been invaluable in allowing each of us to explore our work and achieve clarity in our thinking. I always feel re-energized after talking with this group of friends.
Where in the world would you describe as the place that speaks to you - your soul place?
Most definitely Connemara. The feeling I have for where I live is almost visceral. I have a huge sense of place and relevance in Connemara, a sense of connectivity and engagement with the people and the landscape. I love the city to escape to but nowhere has the same, almost spiritual effect on me as this land and this is where I find so much of my inspiration. I am happy here.
If you could do anything, what in the world would you want to do next?
I would love to create a studio workshop space where individuals could come to share, explore, and collaborate on initiatives in food and creativity.
All images used with permission from Cliodhna Prendergast.