‘I was an accomplished haggler by the age of 10’

Me & My Money: Pat O’Sullivan, MD of Masterchefs Hospitality

Pat O’Sullivan of Masterchefs Hospitality: “Money isn’t the main motivator for me and never has been, but it’s important to live.”

Pat O’Sullivan of Masterchefs Hospitality: “Money isn’t the main motivator for me and never has been, but it’s important to live.”


Are you a saver or a spender?

I am definitely a spender. Despite my mother’s best “rainy day” advice, I have a speculate-to-accumulate mentality.

Do you shop around for better value?

Yes, definitely. I always did, even in the good times. Obviously, you don’t want to get ripped off, but getting value doesn’t always mean buying cheap, either. Sometimes you need to spend more to get lasting value.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

Probably my first BMW. I had a goal of driving one before I was 30. It was a 316i, but in my eyes it might as well have been top of the range. I was delighted with myself. I can’t remember what it cost, but it was certainly an extravagance.

What purchase have you made recently that you consider the best value for money?

My lunch yesterday in Café Noir restaurant in Limerick – a huge door-stopper sandwich on artisan roast pepper bread with homemade vegetable soup for €8. That filled me for the day.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

I might shop online for certain things like clothes, holidays or a specific item that’s not in the shops, but I’m very much an advocate of sourcing locally where at all possible. I go out of my way to buy local food in both my personal and business life.

I’m also very lucky to have the amazing Limerick Milk Market on my doorstep. This makes it easy to support the wonderful local producers in our region.

Do you haggle over prices?

Yes, I was born to haggle. Not just on prices, because I think business in general is a series of haggles or negotiations. When I was young my father used to bring me to the fair in Caherciveen selling cattle. I was an accomplished haggler by the age of 10.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

Yes, I think we all became much more aware of “needs” versus “wants”. The Celtic Tiger passed me by in many ways as I was too busy trying to build a sustainable business, and since the recession hit I’ve been too busy trying to hold on to it.

Do you invest in shares?

No. I like to stick to what I know.

Cash or card?

Both, but probably more cash. I try not to spend what I don’t have; therefore, I find cash gives me more focus.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

A new juicer. It cost €75, but it gets all the goodness out of an array of fresh fruit and vegetables, and gets me off to a good start in the morning. So for the moment, I think it was worth every penny!

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

The deposit for my first home. Well, actually, I sold my nice car and bought a banger to get the deposit together. It seemed like a huge sacrifice at the time, but looking back it was one of the most sensible things I’ve ever done.

Have you ever lost money?

Plenty of times, but thankfully never too much – except for that fantastic, fail safe, pension investment plan!

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?

I’m not a gambler, but I have gambled, never in a big way, though. I only ever get it right when I advise others and my own money isn’t involved.

Is money important to you?

Money isn’t the main motivator for me and never has been, but it’s important to live. I enjoy the chase more than the catch, if that makes sense in financial terms. To quote Zig Ziglar, “money isn’t everything but it ranks right up there with oxygen”.

How much money do you have on you now?

€15. And I always throw coins in a glass jar in the mornings. Maybe I did listen to my mother, after all.


in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea