You are The Little Mill’s baker in residence, what exactly does that mean?
My role with The Little Mill is researching and developing different varieties of cakes and bread recipes. I also try to educate our customers on the advantages of using different varieties of flours which we produce, and then giving them ready-made recipes so they can use them at their own homes.
Tell us a little bit about how you got started in baking?
I can proudly say that baking runs in my blood as my grandfather and father were bakers. Their bakery was called ‘The Old Mill’ and it was located in Skerries, Co. Dublin where I am originally from. It was a very unique place back then as it had a two working mills attached to it and this is where the bread making journey was starting to be distributed to our local shops. I was going there myself as a child and I can still remember the smell of the freshly baked goods which as you know is an unforgettable experience. I was 5 at the time and I believe this is when my love for baking began.
Unfortunately in 1987 my family bakery burned down and my father decided to sell it to the local council. It was a significant and traumatic event in my life as to me it meant the end of my family tradition, however as I later discovered not the end of my passion for food and baking.
After finishing school I decided to go travelling to discover and learn more about different foods and educate my palate. This was an amazing journey helping me to develop my passion for food and directed me to find the path to become the baker I am now.
Who inspires you?
The most inspiring thing for me is my food adventures. Together with my girl we travel for food a lot both locally and internationally to educate our pallets and bringing new ideas home.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I have so much passion for what I do. I really love it and I try to express this through the end results (breads and pastries). I also love being able to produce a bread and pastry recipes that customers enjoy and will come back for week after week. The other is that the scope of baking/confectionery work is so broad that the learning process is on-going throughout my career, which I like the most.
What is the least favourite part of your job?
Being inside on sunny days
What is your specialist dish?
My signature bread recipe is our traditional brown soda bread without the soda which I call Irish Sour and have replaced the soda with ‘’an laibhín’’ in order to make it real bread. I also love incorporating my bread into desserts , brown bread parfait, sourdough biscuits and oat and seed crackers are among bakers dozens of examples.
What’s the best thing about being in the food industry now?
I think the food industry now is colourful and fun. You can find so many varieties of places, from the street food to fine dining. I like the fact that we try to be more adventurous with cooking and put a lots of emphasis on Irish ingredients which are definitely noteworthy and I am hoping that Irish food scene will continue to get more and more attention from the world.
Bourbon or custard creams?
Wholemeal shortbread ☺
What advice would you give to any young baker thinking of going into baking as a profession?
It’s never too early, or too late, to try your hand at baking. The most important part of the industry is being able to take criticism. You have to have a good work ethic, pay attention, work hard and be open to feedback. That’s the way you learn.