Thanks for the welcome
What do Americans do when they can't find the food, or the coffee they like in Ireland? Set up their own business of course.
CAROLINE BYRNEtalks to five Americans foodies
When Seattle-born Katie Cantwell (33) moved to Dublin the early noughties, it was to a tough job in the corporate world that left her little time for food shopping. Having spent time in San Francisco, she was used to having a choice of healthy food stores and cafes on her doorstep. In Dublin in 2003, she discovered that good food-to-go was not easy to find.
She had always wanted to have her own food business, and her entrepreneurial eye couldn’t help spying this potentially lucrative gap in the market. It was a gap she would seek to fill with KC Peaches, a cafe and food shop.
“I was working at the typical rate of an American expat, I didn’t have time to make healthy food for myself, and I got to the point where I realised this is something that would really work here.”
She found an Irish business partner and in 2005 quit her job, gave up her life in the US and returned to Ireland to open the first KCP on Pearse Street in Dublin.
Cantwell found herself in Ireland in the midst of its worst recession. “The climate was very poor, the attitude was very negative – there were challenges.” One of these was finding chefs, as many were leaving the country. Another was finding the resources to take on staff in the face of declining sales and employment regulations that make hiring difficult.
Cantwell battled economic doldrums, homesickness and Irish weather to work out her business plan. And she has been vindicated in her choice of business and Ireland as its location.
“It is a smaller place, compared to the likes of San Francisco, and so we’ve been acknowledged for the work we’ve done, especially with the great producers. There are amazing local producers here.”
For Thanksgiving Cantwell is “cooking up a turkey and all the trimmings” with her partner and friends in Dublin.
In a twist of irony, Caitlin Ruth (42) hails from Dublin, New Hampshire – the fifth smallest town in the US. As a young chef she moved to Europe to work in whichever of the best kitchens she could access.
In Antwerp she met an Irish man and this chance meeting brought her to Connemara in 1992, then to west Cork two years later, where she has lived and worked ever since. “It’s just more laid back, there’s more room to move. Irish people have more of a sense of humour about things. They don’t take themselves too seriously.” And neither does Ruth. Despite constant acclaim for her exceptional cookery, Ruth remains modest and easy-going.The move to west Cork, however, yielded good things for Ruth, and for Ireland’s food scene.