Chef, A Day in the Life: Lights, Camera & Action at Pudding Row

When we made contact with Dervla James of Pudding Row to compose a diary entry for us, we didn’t think that two weeks in we’d be gripped! Here’s her second entry, a small insight into the mind of a chef. You can read her first entry here.

Public speaking? I hate it. It makes my toes curl up and my teeth feel sort of loose. This week Pudding Row welcomed the loveliest chap from Clear Haze in filming me for a project he’s working on. He’s showcasing Irish chefs and cafè owners. I had about a month’s notice for this piece and I was still completely unprepared. The more unprepared the more toothless I seem to feel. Actually, my recurring anxiety nightmare is always about my teeth falling out and I’m left with tiny sharp shards in my gums. Must be a thing!

But this was fun. Märk asked me things I’ve never really asked myself before. After filming was over I had a better understanding of what it is I’m actually doing here, in rural Ireland. This place feels more like home and like real life for me and my family right now. I reserve a very special place for Dublin in my heart though, forever!

5 am: My day started earlier than usual so I could get in ahead of Märk to have a few loaves of bread and bakes ready in advance of the shoot.

I was really nervous ahead of his arrival to Pudding Row. Photos I can handle, I can make things look pretty, I can hold a beaming smile but video is another matter altogether. It’s the age-old issue with me, fear of total exposure and judgement. The fear doesn’t last long and before I know it we’re laughing and joking together, just getting on with it. It’s silly really, it’s like the kind of nerves you feel heading to an exam or an interview, mixed with the excitement of a table quiz but here I know all the answers, I’ve set them myself, so there’s little to worry about!

9 am: Jamie’s in to help. She knows what needs to be done and she’s off doing her thing. Lauren arrives shortly after and gets busy prepping the dining space with perfectly arranged posies and sparkling glassware.

I’m surrounded by such a great team of wonderful women. They’ve tapped into the whole vibe of Pudding Row.

11 am: We pick apart the menu and decide on the final shots of the day before we go outside to do a quiet interview away from the hustle and bustle of a very busy Friday morning.

Märk asks me about where I started and why. I’m reminded of the first time I ate in Ard Bia and thinking, “wow, this is really cool”. Creative Irish food in the most beautiful setting, I knew it was the path I wanted to go down. I’ve since become great friends with the owner Aoibheann Macnamara and she continues to inspire me.

Ard Bia -
The delightful Ard Bia at Nimmos in Galway City. Source

2 pm: I’m so giddy, just like with writing these short pieces, I get a serious kick from it. It’s hard to shift my mind from baker’s percentages, profit margins or my kids but I manage to pull it off each time, thank goodness. It’s mainly down to the professionals I work with, they’re focused and it helps me to channel my energy into that one thing for that one moment.

I stick to prep this lunchtime because I’m literally buzzing. I tend to do more of the baking and prepping than general service anyway. Irene, Jamie and Cora are whip smart. We make a really great kitchen team, I’m truly thankful for the team I have at Pudding Row.

4 pm: Lunch was long and busy but we made it out the other end. I’m ready for home. It’s so hard to get out on time, I always feel a little bad leaving before everyone else is finished up but I’m sure they like to see me leave too.

Being the owner is not always easy! I’m part of the team but I’m always the boss. I’m fair though, I just hope that always comes across. There are always two sides to the argument I make it my head; the eternal employee who’s up for the chats and having good fun and the boss who’s so utterly aware of our GWP and all the overheads. But I respect my staff and I feel respected too.

5 pm: I run down the stairs and hop into my little red car. I drive along the sea road, I just have to. The water is so inviting, all I want to do is dive straight in. I just park up and watch the waves for a short while. I’m already late for dinner but I need this, I just need to be still for 10 whole minutes. I’m perfectly still but the waves rush towards me. The energy from the sea is like getting a jump start. Just being next to it  makes you feel so alive.

5:30pm: I get home with only seconds to spare, just before everyone gets to the dinner table. I always bring a little something home, a bagel for Edith’s lunch or a few vegan squares for after our meal. The family is altogether and now I relax.

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