Chef, A Day in the Life: Pudding Row Chef & Proprietor Dervla James

My name is Dervla James. I am the owner and head chef in Pudding Row in my hometown of  Easkey, Co Sligo. I’m Chef, Baker, Mother of Two and Wife of One.

After many years in the food industry between working in cafés, studying baking in college and opening The Pepper Pot Cafe in Powerscourt Townhouse in Dublin with my best buddy, in 2010 I decided to move back to my hometown and open Pudding Row.

City life was crisp and cool but I longed for a simpler life and to be part of something bigger yet smaller and more intimate. We packed our bags and baggage and headed West to a most familiar place in the world.  A surfers’ paradise (though that is something I have yet to attempt!)

Jumping straight back into my comfort zone, Pudding Row was born. Named after my old apartment block and the ancient Dublin Street where I’d resided through three tasty years of baking school. Here we specialise in homemade cakes, pastries and artisan bread with a strong emphasis on local, organic produce, seasonality, sustainability and community.

Food is my passion and this is my diary:

5 a.m.: I don’t start my day with breakfast or tea. I check my emails and Instagram to get my daily dose of The Fat Fox antics. I think about our own social media and work out what side of Pudding Row I’d like to show today.

6 a.m.: I’m easily distracted and epic sunrises are my weakness. Naturally, I capture this and in my true OTT style I take up to 20 shots to get the light just right. The view is so spectacular, it’s eye candy and food for the soul. It makes the morning.

8 a.m.: I’ve been known to change specials by the time the next chef starts their shift at 10 am. I can’t help it, I just want things to be their very best. A strawberry salad is upgraded to mind blowing status: add homemade Chelsea bun, basil butter, Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella, avocado, balsamic reduction and toasted almonds. I ramp up my speed, the pressure is on but that’s how I like it.

1 p.m.: Lunch is always a bit of a blur, people are in and out. I spend most of my time topping up cakes, power through the prep, and check in various orders and delicious supplies.

3 p.m.: Things slow down at this point and we catch up on what’s left to do, sort out the staffs’ breaks and decide on the next specials. The team is great this year. I’m already dreading the end of summer when a few people go back to college.

4 p.m. Time for home. My mind is usually racing around this time, jumping between this evening, tomorrow and the weekend. Luckily, Jamie, my right-hand woman, is usually a day ahead of me and has the prep list lined up. Johny picks me up and I leave him waiting around 40 minutes as usual. He’s ok, hooked up with an iced coffee here and a doughnut there.  We jump in the car and head home. That’s where my other job begins, it’s full on!

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