The life behind the kitchen door…

I  promised to tell you what’s going on behind the closed doors of our kitchen at Momo…

I was brave and probably stupid enough to put my hand up and say that I’m willing to work in the kitchen… that was a year ago… I’m not really working in the kitchen- I’m not a chef. I’m making salads and sandwiches, for lunch only. Sometimes I would make hummus, and help with the basic prep. I did one full service in the kitchen on a Saturday Night- never again!!! (Never say never). I was so nervous… The pressure, the heat, and overwhelming amount of work- I’m not able for it, and I know it. 

We all probably have an idea in our head about what is going on “behind the closed door”. We all watch cooking programmes and think “that is it”.  Nice and calm, putting ingredients together to the pot, stir it with the golden spoon, and put parsley on the top- and all done! 

As a restaurant owner I truly believe that I have to be “helping in the kitchen”. I need to see and understand the amount of work, the “system”, the importance of every single rule. Before I put my foot in to the kitchen, often during the “quiet” times I was thinking ” What are they doing there????, We have only few tables in and 3 chefs in the kitchen? Why do I have to wait for the food for soooo…. long??? What are they doing in the kitchen in the morning?….” Now I know.  I know how much work, preparation and planning is involved in running a restaurant kitchen. I understand that cooking at home and cooking in the professional kitchen are two completely different things. 

We start at 9am. I’m doing my little bits, and just after 11am, I’m running away… The guys have “The Book”- The prep list, orders, etc… “The Never Ending List”- but should be done before 12pm….  Service starts just after 12, but that doesn’t mean that “the prep” is done… so they make sandwiches, cook fish and make purées, desserts, and whatever else has to be done… and the timers are beeping, the deliverys  keep coming, the food is served…. and it is like that till 9/10pm…non stop…. the sound of “order in”, “table away”, “how long for the fish”, “what’s  next chef”…. non stop… And they love it… 

I love seeing the smile on everyone’s faces after a busy service, the pride and joy. 

Michael- The Head Chef 

He is the one who controls it all. He organises the kitchen- from suppliers, orders, to kitchen rosters, paper work,to more fun stuff- designing the menus, coming up with the specials, deciding how each dish will be served, garnish, etc. Michael is working with us for over 1.5 years. He is very calm and organised. He can plan and control. Nothing could get away… he knows it all! He remembers all the little details. He likes “flat white” in the morning, has a loving wife and two beautiful children, hates goats cheese, loves smoked paprika and chorizo. He never shouts. He likes to have a laugh, he loves his job. We are so proud of him. He can see our vision and deliver it. 

Gary- Sous Chef 

Gary is our rock, Michael’s right hand. He needs “double shot latte with two sugars” in the morning. He loves to experiment, check new recipes, techniques… , different flavour combinations, spices… Gary is an amazing teacher. He is always so patient. He can explain everything very clearly, he will always help. 

Giulia- Chef

I stole this photo from her Facebook Page, as it is nearly impossible to take a photo of her- she is too fast! Giulia is a “tough cookie”. No one can mess with Giulia. I love her determination and drive. Always pushing, always trying harder, never stops! She is fair and honest. She drinks “espresso”, goes to the gym, is super strong and fit! She loves gnocchi, eats lots of fish and likes her steak “rare”. 

Davide- Chef

Davide is young, but has lots of experience already. He wants to learn as much as possible. Davide doesn’t waste time. He is very organised, always concentrated, and focused. He gets the stuff done. He always comes to work early . He drinks “espresso”, loves food, football and his family. 

And probably the most important, but often forgotten are Eugenija and Angele- our fantastic kitchen porters. They know every corner of the kitchen. They keep everything clean, tidy and organised. Without them we wouldn’t be able to do anything. They work hard, they are super strong. They make it a little bit easier for everyone. Eugenija loves Ginger and Lemon tea, Angele has a sweet tooth. 

We are blessed with our team. We like each other. We respect each other. 

Work in the kitchen is  hard, very physical. Working in hot conditions, in a small room without a window, with  two or three other people can be challenging…. but if you are all on the same page, respect each other, have a sense of humour, share the same vision- it can actually be fun! 

We all just have to remember to say “please” and “thank you” and understand that WE ARE A TEAM, WE WORK TOGETHER, NO ONE IS MORE OR LESS IMPORTANT. 

Lots love ❤️ Kamila 

P.S. Huge thank you to our amazing kitchen team- our secret behind the closed door. You are all fantastic 😊❤️

My Food Education- part 3 New Year – New Me? 

Food education is never ending… But how to get the right information? Every day we are told something different by media. What is healthy eating? What is the Right diet?

This time of the year it is all about New Year – New Me, diets, exercise, quitting bad habits etc… But why now? Why not always?

I really love eating healthy… But what does healthy mean? Low fat? High fat? Gluten Free? Vegan? Dairy free? No sugar? Diet drinks?

Not long time ago we were told that diet drinks are good for us… That 0% fat is the way to go… Low fat… No gluten…

What to believe? What diet to choose? What to eat?

Relationship with food can be a hard one. We can quit eating… but we can also simply eat well. Some people think that eating healthy is boring, tasteless, and unsatisfying. I really don’t think so. It’s all about the choices we make and the work we put in. Little changes – step by step!

Please – just start to cook! Enjoy it! Play with it! Open yourself to new flavours, new dishes, and try something new.

I love buying new products and spices… All the “weird” stuff. I like to “Google it”, read about and just try it out. It might work, it might not… When you cook from scratch, you know what you put into the dish so you know what you’re eating!

Be careful when you choose what you are buying. Cheap doesn’t always mean good. Expensive doesn’t always mean healthy. Superfoods are not so super. Whole foods are not expensive. During the ballymaloe Food Festival 2016, Elisabeth Luard said that we should eat what is growing around us. Local produce is the best for us because it is a climate we live in; our surroundings  and the freshness of the produce. There is no magic ingredient or foods which will make us healthy. There is no superfood that will make us beautiful and slim. There are long term choices in our lifestyle that we should make to feel better.

@Momo we make choices everyday. In our business we spend our money on local, good produce. Good quality produce is worth the price. Knowing where food comes from is a must. Quality is the key to flavour – real flavour; sourdough bread from Seagull Bakery, vegetables from Tom Cleary, Ballybeg Greens, meat from O’Flynn’s, fish from Dunmore East….

I made small changes at home last year. The kids weren’t too happy for a very short time but they got used to it quickly. Now they love sourdough bread, real ham (cooked by me and not the ham bought in the supermarket), home baked sweets. They drink water instead of cordials. We cook and bake together as often as possible.

We have a great relationship with food. We appreciate it and we care for it.

I started working in the kitchen @Momo a couple of months ago… Just helping with the daily salads and basic preperation. I’m not a chef. I love food. I love flavour. I don’t have any professional training so you might think that I’m crazy but I think that I can do it!

Healthy can be delicious! Healthy can be full of flavour!

HEALTHY IS NOT ONLY FOR JANUARY.

But don’t forget to indulge yourself. Enjoy food. I believe in balance. I need a little of “badness” in me. If I feel like “garlic chips and cheese” at 3am – I would do it and enjoy it… and probably regret it later but I don’t do it often. Just enjoy and appreciate food.

My grandmother loved brandy and chocolate and she had both the day she passed away. She would use only real butter (full fat dairy), lots of veg and would go for a 10k walk everyday. She was a very healthy 98 year old lady.

My job is to teach my children how to appreciate food, cook it, and enjoy it.

Lots love,

Kamila

My Food Education (part two)

My food education will never end. That is the real beauty of food for me. There are so many options, ingredients, way of cooking, cultures, histories, climates, seasons, spices and flavours to discover.

My childhood was complicated. The first 8 years of my life I spent with my mother who was a single, working mother. I don’t really remember much about it. I have some lovely memories about food from the crèche. Fruit soup was my favourite. Yes, it does sound strange… Today the idea of eating creamy, sweet, watery soup with pasta and overcooked fruit doesn’t sound very appetising.

I fell in love with beetroots in crèche. The girl seated next to me said that beetroots were delicious so I tasted it. She was right! So far as I remember, I was a fussy eater. But… I lost my mother when I was 8, and moved to live with my father, stepmother and, of course, my grandmother.

My grandmother and stepmother spent most of the day in the kitchen cooking everything from scratch. Food was so different and so strange for me at that time. But I had no choice. I was told that “Food is not for liking – Food is for eating.”  There was no other option – eat it or leave it and go hungry. So I decided to try it and get to know it. The kitchen become my favourite place in the house; hours of preparing food, drinking tea, licking the spoon, and talking.

Years later I decided to spend the summer in Dublin, Ireland (2003).

Food was one of the hardest thing for me to get use to.  Everything was so different to what I knew. I didn’t know how to shop. I had very little money and food in Ireland in comparison to Poland was so expensive! It was scary and strange! Instant mash potatoes, sausages in a jar (?!), spagetti hoops, chips with vinegar (!!!), beans for breakfast. The list is long and the ingredients so exotic. Never before had I seen a fresh mango or avocado.

I remember how embarrassed I was when someone sent me to buy avocados. I didn’t know what an avocado looked like, and I was too embarrassed to ask. Shellfish were another thing I didn’t know anything about. I had mussels for the first time in my early twenties on holidays in Croatia. I never cooked or had even seen anyone cook prawns before. I tasted “prawns from a jar” once. Vegetables tasted different. Potatoes were falling apart while cooking. In Poland we use waxy potatoes. Roosters potatoes looked so exotic! I bought a can of peas to put in the salad and the peas were mushy – why? I thought they were old and inedible. I got another can- the same problem😳! Beef was such a dark red that I was scared that it had extra food colouring. In Poland meat is pale and we eat pork mostly.

All of it was strange, new and scary… But I wanted to learn!

The following year I decided to move to Ireland permanently. I choose  Waterford (by accident). I could pronounce it, itwas close to the coast, not too big, not too small and I had never heard about Waterford before…. sounded good enough for me!

In Waterford the real lesson started!

I had many jobs, in many places. I got to know people, the culture, build friendships, and learn the way of eating.


Chips with vinegar….. why?! Why would you put vinegar on chips?! I still cannot understand it. I cannot stand the smell! (I know, we Polish are strange too – pickled herrings for breakfast sounds like a nightmare for you). Milk in the tea? Why? In Poland we put lemon, syrup or vodka in tea – not milk! Full Irish breakfast? Really? Why? How can you eat baked beans for breakfast? But marshmallows in hot chocolate was a discovery. Seafood and shellfish, too, were another discovery. Amazing! All the exotic fruit and vegetables..

My challenge was to get to know ingredients, find out where to shop and learn how to cook it.

I was lucky enough to meet fantastic people, build friendships and work in lots of different places. I did work in Irish bars and restaurants, French, Italian too. I’ve learned so much. I have my amazing Irish family and friends, who cooked for me, brought me out for dinner, cooked Full Irish Breakfast after a night out.

I did my reasearch. I would go to the fishmonger, buy mussels and ask ‘how should I cook it?’ Then I would Google it, buy magazines and read, ask chefs I worked with and just try. I love buying “strange” ingredients, learning about it and trying it out. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I did fall in love in with Ireland; with the people and the food! I can’t imagine opening my restaurant in any other place in the world. This is my home; the place I feel at home. 

So much has changed in Ireland over the last 13 years. It has changed for better in my opinion, or maybe I just got to know it better. The incredible produce, the passionate people, the fifty shades of green, the best beef and lamb in the world, the beautiful wild ingredients… And so many talented people. They inspire me everyday.

Thank you Ireland.

Lots love,

Kamila

My Food Education (part one)

I would like to tell you my story – my food education story.

Growing up in communistic Poland was challenging and interesting. Food and goods were very limited. Eating well required lots of imagination and work.

My grandmother Helena was definitely my biggest influence. She was born in 1920, went to school in Switzerland in 1937, came back to Poland a day before the Second World War (31/08/1939) began, survived the war, and shared her secrets with me.

My grandmother was a great cook. She loved cream and butter more than anything else. Her dishes were rich and delicious. She would use only 30% fat cream, real homemade butter from our neighbour, and make the most amazing apricot jam. Apricot jam was only for special occasions. She would make around 20 jars a year. Every single one was treated with deserved respect. We did fight over it. Sweet and tangy, with lovely pieces of fruit- the best jam I have ever tasted!

We had a pantry in our kitchen filled with homemade jams, chutneys, pickles, my favourite “pears in vinegar” and even homemade ketchup and fruit syrups.

Everything in our home was made from scratch. My grandmother would make pasta, dry it and store it in a glass jar. Baking was a daily thing. She would bake delicious cakes, biscuits and crackers. ‘Preserve for winter’ was her motto. She would dry or freeze fresh herbs in ice cubes to use during the long winter. She was always prepared. She knew how to forage. She showed me how to do this and where to find wild herbs. Mint, nettles, and yarrow would be used to make salsa verde.

During the summer we would always take a basket for a walk in the forest. Wild strawberries, raspberries and blackberries were waiting to be picked.

Wild mushrooms would grow outside the house. The neighbour would bring eggs, butter, homemade cottage cheese and rye sourdough bread. These are my memories. I loved baking with her;  making ginger bread cookies for Christmas and the cake mix from the bowl.

Hare stew in cream sauce with carrots and greens was our favourite dinner. For years we believed that it was chicken…. Not a hare…

Rabbit paté for Easter. Poppyseed Christmas cake. Yeast dough cake with raisins. There you go; my childhood memories.

This is what I want to give our children; knowledge where the food comes from. How to cook. Experience of flavours and textures. Food needs love and care to nourish us.

Food education should start young! It was always a part of my life and will always be. Food education is nerver ending… We can always learn more, experience new flavours… Learn from each other. History of the world is the history of food.

My grandmother would never really talk about the war, but she would keep the good memories alive. There was always a bottle of Chartreuse in our fridge – her little treat ( and medicine 😉) and Dijon mustard. Memories from school in Switzerland. She would tell us a stories about rotten potatoes during the war. They had rotten sweet taste, but during the war it was a delicatessen (what we ate when there was nothing to eat during WWII). I was given my Grandmother’s, and my great grandmother’s, recipe books; hand written recipes collected for years from friends and family.

This is a recipe for “Delicaciese Torte” from Mary with a little note that says “very good”. This is how it was. You would go to your friends house for a party, enjoy the cake and ask for the recipe. It was the great complement for the housewife.

Every family event was a feast! Homemade mayonnaise for vegetable salad (made only few times a year), roast loin of pork stuffed with prunes, horseradish sauce, pickled wild mushrooms, cold meats, salads, cakes and biscuits…

I want to keep the flavours alive forever. I want to learn more; to go back to the basics.

Dill always tastes like home for me.

When I arrived to Ireland (over 13 years ago!) food was my biggest challenge. Over the years, I learned how to appreciate it. I had to start from scratch. In my next post I will write about my food education in Ireland from the perspective of a Polish girl coming to Ireland.

Lots love,

Kamila

Filed Under |

‘Best Kids Size Me’ in Ireland at The Irish Restaurant Awards

As far as good weeks go, last week was up there with the best.

My head is full of inspiration. I cannot stop thinking about everything food related!

Last Monday we went to the finals of The Irish Restaurant Awards’ in Dublin.

It was a very elegant even; strictly black tie with a 6 course meal, prepared by the best chefs in the country. All my food heroes under one roof. It was overwhelming. I got very nervous. I was surrounded by the best in the country, by people I admire, faces I see in magazines… And we were there. We won “Best Kids Size Me” in Munster a couple of months ago, and we had a chance to win an All Ireland award. I really didn’t have any expectations, or hopes that maybe…. Being around The Best in Ireland was good enough – I thought.

Every single course was absolutely delicious. I still cannot get my head around how can you serve soup for 900 people – hot and with perfectly crunchy croutons.

A few hours in to the evening and we won! We won All Ireland”Best Kids Size Me”! I couldn’t believe it.

I nearly cried. Overwhelmed with pure joy. Proud of our Momo team – we did it.

I won’t lie. Maybe it looks easy to run a restaurant, winning awards and so on – but it is not. When your work is recognised by specialists in the industry – the feeling is incredible.

When we told our children that we won – seeing how happy they were made all the hard work worth it. We have to thank them for the award. They inspire us.

Children are our future. Our responsibility is to feed them well, teach them and give them a right start in life.

When we opened Momo and were doing our first children menu we decided to respect the young ones and give them the best food that we could; nothing processed just the same dishes as for the rest of our guests. It drives me crazy, when I go to eat out with my young ones and the kids menu is filled with rubbishy, processed food (chips and nuggets)….

I think they deserve to get the best food – or at least as good as we get. Respect young diners. They are going to grow up and might come one day with their children. It’s up to us to give everyone the best experience we can.

I still remember going to the restaurant with our little ones and not being able to have a dessert because they were so bored and started to cry…. I just wanted a cake.

We can help parents to enjoy the meal out with children a little bit more by making everyone feel important and looking after all the little needs. Sometimes it is just some bread for the hungry one or glass of water for a very thirsty and tired mother.

And real food for real people! Make it interesting, pretty, tasty and healthy. A little bit of vegetables won’t kill anyone.


Respect for the young diners, for our children, for the future. It is our job to do things a little bit better, to eat better, move more and look after our planet. To give a good example. To care.

We take little steps in what we believe is the right direction. We offer children natural, ‘made in Waterford’ cordials with sparkling water instead of sugary, fizzy madness. We make our own ice cream, and sometimes in funny flavours so our guests have to guess them. Butternut squash and parsnip are full of natural sweeteness! We are adults, we can make a difference. We can show the direction we believe is right.

Ireland is full of incredible produce, very talented people, beautiful nature and a new generation of young people. It is our responsibility to give them a good start.

Yes, I’m so proud and happy. I’m full of new ideas and inspiration. We are just back from Balymaloe’s LitFest (a food and drink literacy festival) and my head is full of deep thoughts about our future. Where we are going? What can we teach our children? How can we look after our planet and can we be just a little bit nicer to one another?

Today I’m going to bake our first sourdough using the starter we got in Ballymaloe from Riot Rye Bakehouse Bread School with our children.

It is all about taking little steps.

Lots love,

Kamila

 

Filed Under |

The ‘Glamorous’ Life of the Restaurant Owner

Last year, just after we opened Momo, one evening I sat down with a glass wine and got some food. A stranger came up and said: “It must be so great to own a restaurant. You can drink as much wine as you want and eat what you want and when you want.” The reality couldn’t be farther from this belief.

 

But where am I going with it?

We are open just over a year. The craziest year you can possibly imagine. I have never worked so hard in my life, but I still love it. Time with my family is very limited. Being a working mom that owns her own business is much harder than I could ever imagine. The last months have been a real life lesson teaching me to put my priorities first; family and time with the kids.

We are so lucky with our little ones. They are the most amazing little helpers you can imagine. We try to get them involved as much as we can. Lucas is only 7, and little Momo is 6. He cannot wait to work @Momo and she wants to be a chef and repaint the front of the restaurant pink (of course!). They make us proud. Their teacher told us that Lucas not only knows seasons and months but was talking about seasonal eating and why we change the menu at Momo with seasons. They listen, they learn.

I’m learning how to spend time properly with them. I’m asking my son to remind me to put my phone away and not allow me to answer phone calls. I’m planning days off more carefully to make the most of it; little day trips, adventures….

  Appreciate the time together. Being and living the moment. Appreciate the sunshine.

It’s all about juggling the time between family, business, friends…. But how to do it all? There are not enough hours in a day. Priorities for us? Always our children. Because of them I get up and I keep going.

Being a business owner is not as glamorous as I thought it was going to be. I remember, few years ago, when I was mopping the floor as a waitress in a restaraunt, I said to myself  “when I have my own restaurant I won’t have to mop the floor ever again.”

And I was sooooo wrong! Yes, I’m mopping floors and cleaning. I do it all. I’m a strong believer in ‘do it yourself’ and then ask others. I used to believe that it was the only way to check if it was done right. Now, I have to learn to delegate. To trust others. To “let it go.” I’m a control freak. I keep forgetting that the team I have and the husband I have can do it all as well as I can, probably much better, but I’m not ready to admit it 😔.

And there is so much more to learn. There is so much I don’t know. There is so much to remember. There are so many phone calls, emails, letters, bills, and things to do. If I had only known… but I would do it anyway. I think so.

A few days ago, I had a chat with a very successful business woman. She started her new adventure last year and she is doing amazingly well. During the chat, she said “it takes sooo much time… I’m not yet where I need to be.” I looked at her and reminded her what she achieved in a very short period of time. I asked “Did you expect to achieve as much as you did? Can you see how fantastically you are doing and how successful you are?”

And that’s a problem we have. The more you achieve, the more you want. And that is fantastic. Always trying to do better. But we all should remember to stop and realise how much we have already done. We are still doing what we love.

I’m mopping floors less often.

Lots love,

Kamila

 

Rewards, Awards and Reviews

I wanted to write about my side and my view on rewards, awards and reviews for a long time. All so important for a restaurant owner. So close to my heart.

Reviews; the heart stopping moment of the unknown. Every time, every single time, when I can see that we have a new review, I have that second of heart-banging worry in me. And then, a big, deep breath of relief… or a horrible feeling of stabbing straight in my chest. Don’t get me wrong. We need reviews and we want to get reviews. We want to know what customers think about us as a restaurant. We need feedback to improve, to learn and to avoid mistakes.

We are humans. We are not perfect. We make mistakes (hopefully not too many). Our job is to make our customers happy and look  after them as well as we can every single time. I really want to know what our customers think about us. Momo is my life and my passion. I’m learning and developing as I go. I don’t know everything. I always want to do better.

I am probably the toughest critic. I am never really happy with myself and I always want to do better. I’m not alone. I believe that most restaurant owners are doing the best they can every single day. We are all different. Each place is different but we all want the same; happy, returning customers.

It is in human nature to judge, to have expectations. I do judge, even if I want to or not. The decor, atmosphere, staff, food, and every thing else. Why? Because I have to choose the meal, order it, eat it (or not) and pay for it!  And I want to be happy to do so. And if I do it, you do it too. A special occasion, quick lunch or meal with friends can be ruined by customer service, food, atmosphere etc. Please, wherever you go, please give feedback. Tell us what you think – the good, the bad and the ugly😁.

It is very difficult to look at yourself from the outside, to see it from a customer’s perspective. If something goes wrong, we might be able to fix it, but bad reviews can really affect business. Just please, before you sit down to write a negative review on TripAdvisor or on social media, talk to us first. We don’t want to upset anyone. We want happy, satisfied customers. For me, the reviews are really personal. It is my business, my today, my future and my dream. The best moments for me, as a restaurant owner, are seeing happy customers. A lovely, little message from a customer, an email, a smile or even a “thank you” really makes our day. So, thank you❤️!

From customers reviews to food critic reviews…. McKenna Guide, Georgina Campbell, Tom Doorley ….

 

It was my secret dream to be one day mentioned in a Food and Wine Magazine, and then it happened so quickly. The same week we got listed in 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland in ‘The Sunday Times/The McKennas’ Guide.’ I was in the shower that morning when Harry ran in with the biggest smile saying that we made it on to the list. We were extremely happy…. And scared – yes- SCARED!!!! Why?  Because of the extra pressure from the bigger expectations from our customers. Do we deserve it? Are we good enough? These are the questions I’m asking myself every day.

 


And, of course, our pride and joy – our little Momo with a beautiful McKennas’ plague!

Is it important? Oh, yes. It’s so difficult to survive and get established as a restaurant. Any recognition from the best in the industry is extremely rewarding. It’s hard to give yourself a pat on the back and say ‘I’m doing good. We might be able to survive.’ As I said, I’m a tough self-critic.

Over a year ago we received a letter from The Restaurant Association Awards with a nomination, and soon afterward came our first huge win; “Best Kids Size Me” in Munster. It was an absolutely amazing mark of recognition for us especially because we were only open with 4 months at the time.

This year wasn’t any different. I know how tough our competition is and how many amazing restaurants are around. How can we compete with these fantastic restaurants that are so well established and so successful? We can only do our best, stay honest with ourselves, work hard, stick to our guns, and be consistent.

I was so nervous yesterday. I don’t know why. I really wanted to win an award again. My expectations are growing really fast and I don’t like it. I’m trying to stop myself all the time and appreciate  what I have. I have the most beautiful, healthy family. I have amazing and the most supportive friends, and I have my dream business – my Momo.  Do I need anything else to prove to myself that I’m doing a good job? Sadly, yes. I don’t think that there will be a day in my life where I stop trying to do things better. Nothing is ever perfect to me, I always want to do better. Winning an award doesn’t define you, or your business. It helps. It gives you belief that you are doing good.

 And we did it again!!! We won “Best Kids Size Me” In Munster, 2016!!! There was an incredible feeling of accomplishment. I was proud, happy and deeply humble.

The moment you realise that you won but someone else didn’t. Next time it could be you. The disappointment – is it fair? Who is better? How can you judge? Who works harder? Who is more successful? How can it be measured? These are difficult questions.

We all work very hard. We are passionate about what we do. We always want to improve. The awards and reviews are very important, but returning customers are the key to a successful restaurant. It helps to put on the map a restaurant you like, the service you appreciate, the menu that inspires…. So next time please vote for your favourite restaurant, leave a constructive comment, recommend it to others, and spread the love.

 

Lots Love,

Kamila

Post-Christmas Blues


Christmas season is over. The New Year has just started. Time for reflection, planning, getting ready for what this year is going to bring.

Christmas, when you are working in the restaurant industry is different. Most people don’t really like it…. But I absolutely love it! One of my favourite days is Christmas Eve at “work.” You are probably thinking now that I must be crazy or I’m lying, but no. I do love ‘The Christmas Madness.’ Families, kids, friends, last minute shopping, and the best Christmas Spirit in the air. It’s the perfect excuse to give a hug or two, exchange the “Merry Christmas” wishes, and have a glass or two.

It’s great to know that after all the hard work, we are ready to celebrate it and appreciate it maybe a little bit more.

When you work in the restaurant industry, you are waiting for Christmas for most of the year. It is the busiest time of the year so you spend the rest of the year preparing for it. It’s lots of hard work, a little bit of stress, hundreds of phone calls, and there are never ending cases of wine and beer…. And food – lots of it. There is hard work, long hours, and fun too! I’m so lucky to have such an amazing team at Momo. The guys in the kitchen never complained and worked so hard, and enjoyed it, too. Strangely, the busier we were, the better the mood in the kitchen was. JB was so calm and organised. A great and pure pleasure to work with all of them. We just had to remember to deliver lots of coffee on time….

Firstly, we had to survive long, long hours together! In hunger and in thirst, for better and for busier – together! I can be quite difficult sometimes but the girls know how to deal with me. Hannah always makes me coffee. Jess sends me on a break and reminds me to eat, and Victoria keeps me calm. And happy days! We did survive. We looked after each other. We had lots of fun. We worked hard.

My family – Harry, who worked with me and for me to be sure that I would have extra time with the kids. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. This year, for the first time I got to properly enjoy Winterval. And I loved it! This year, Christmas Day was fantastic; cooking, eating and drinking together. Board games, movies and far too much chocolate…

We had a wonderful Christmas at Momo. It was full of amazing people, regular customers, new customers, Christmas parties, friends, fun and laughter!

  
I’m so happy and grateful for the last year. The last month couldn’t go any better for us. Our hard work paid off.

Thank you all for the incredible support. For all kind words. For coming back and bringing your family and friends. For enjoying yourself, for filling up the room with laughter and chats, and the few sing songs full of Christmas spirit. Nothing makes me happier than seeing our customers having fun, enjoying the evening. Thank you.


And before you know it- it’s all over. January kicks in and the calm season begins. Time for planning and reflection. Time for a little relaxation and appreciation. But not for long. Lots of great ideas  are already beginning to blossom….


And this is my plan for 2016!

Lots Love,

Kamila

My Superheroes 2 – Local Producers in Waterford (Fruit & Veg)

Superheros.

Here at Momo we have 4 fruit and vegetable suppliers. You are probably wondering ‘why 4? Is one not good enough?’ The answer is no.

For us, seasonal and local produce is a must. Our suppliers are small, independent and local. They are all full of passion. They all work extremely hard. They have to deal with the rain, the cold, the wind, the sunshine (or rather the lack of it :)) and the seasons. They all offer something different. They don’t produce big quantities of crops but sometimes even they cannot keep up with the demand.

The Ballybeg Greens – Sean, Billy, Johnny and the rest of the team. 

I met these guys during the Summer a couple of years ago in the New Street Garden. Sean has the biggest hands and heart. They always put a smile on my face. They have beautiful and fresh produce; the best herbs I’ve ever seen or tasted. Chocolate mint.  Basil mint. Pineapple mint. Peppermint. Spearmint. Apple mint. Did you know that there is so many different types of mint?! Truly inspiring!

And the salad leaves, edible flowers and, of course, the vegetables! Watermelons – the best ones are from Ballybeg! Find them on Facebook.

  

The GIY guys – Michael Kelly, and the Main Grower Dermot Carey

I will always remember my first conversation with Dermot; at least 30 minutes on the phone explaining our ethos. Why do we want to have GIY vegetables? What are we going to do with them? Will we respect the produce? Are we serious about local produce? I adore Dermot. Every single conversation with him is inspiring and his knowledge is incredible. You can talk with him about vegetables for weeks! And, surprisingly, it is very interesting! I really don’t know how he does it. I know that he started to “grow his own” at the very early age of nine.  So, if you would like to Grow It Yourself – do it! The GIY group is the way to go offering super support and knowledge. And they are fun, too!  We had the pleasure to host a dinner during the Harvest Festival using GIY produce. It was a 100% vegetarian meal (4 courses) showcasing the fantastic vegetables that are so full of love and hard work. Baby turnips. Beetroot ice cream – so sweet and vibrant. Baby carrots. Leeks. Cauliflower. Spinach. Pumpkin. The list is long and changes in accordance with the seasons 😃.

 

Tom Cleary – Wexford.

Every Friday, after lunch, Tom arrives in his white van. He parks cross the road, goes straight to the kitchen, takes the order and then delivers his beautiful vegetables. His wife is always with him. His hands are not afraid of hard work. He is funny. Every single time when we pay him, Tom gives back a €2 coin for good luck. His vegetables are stunning!  Rainbow beetroots. Black curly kale. Leeks. Carrots. Super potatoes!


Dunphy’s of Annestown – Eoghen.

Look at these stunning rainbow carrots! Ok, you might think that I’m the weird one – getting excited about the carrots – but I really am.  I love and adore the fresh produce; the colour and the smell. Eoghen has the biggest selection of fruit and vegetables. He provides us with exotic, top quality stuff  from lemons to pomegranate and avocados to broccoli. He started to grow his own produce recently and as you can see – he knows how to do it!

So please buy local. Support these guys. They have families. They work hard. They really do care. It is personal. I have had the pleasure to get to know them all. I love having our little chats, the serious conversations and exchanging the funny stories. I prefer to buy from them – I know where the money will go.

Please go to the market. Try to Grow It Yourself. You won’t be disappointed. The taste of locally grown vegetables is different – very different. They taste soooo good! Our job is to do justice to their produce and respect the hard work of these amazing people.

 

 

My Superheroes – Local Producers in Waterford City (Seagull Bakery)

I want to share the stories about our suppliers and producers – the real people behind the beautiful produce. These people are full of passion, extremely hard working, dedicated, and wonderful.

We are so incredibly lucky to have such wonderful superheroes on our doorstep in the Sunny South East.

Seagull Bakery

I start with Sarah, owner of Seagull Bakery. She was our first supplier before we even had a head chef, and weeks before we open.


I met Sarah years ago. Sarah the artist and the painter. She is extremely talented.

Two years ago, I bumped into Sarah again in Dungarvan during the food festival. I didn’t know that she had become a full time baker. I bought her bread. It was the best decision ever. It tasted like the Polish bread that I had missed for so long, only it had just got a thousand times better and had landed straight into my hands. With a wonderful texture, flavour, crunchy crust and made with love.

I found and bought Sarah’s bread again a few months later in Larder (shop on the Waterford Quay) and oh! Fantastic! I made the decision that when we opened Momo – Sarah’s bread would be a must! I met her a few weeks later and the rest is history.

Now, I find out few weeks ago that she bakes a certain shape and size of sourdough bread only for us!  Momo’s Signature Bread! What a fantastic feeling to know that this one is just for us!


Sarah is a superhero. She inspires me. I love having chats with her. Her knowledge about bread – real bread – is incredible.

Sarah is a mother of 3, self employed, super funny, very helpful, extremely hard working…. and she never has enough time to sleep.  Remember, it takes two days to make and bake a real sourdough. She stays up until crazy late times and gets up at 5am to bake! She has a super supportive husband Conor, who helps her as much as he can. You can find her bread (and Conor 😃) in Tramore every Saturday morning. Get there early – otherwise the breads and other pastries are all gone!


And this is me. It is probably 2am, after work. I’m hungry but I have Sarah’s amazing bread and the best hummus ever – happy me!

Find Sarah on Facebook.