Table Talk: Jacqueline O’Donnell on Grannies and Graft
The chef-patron of the Sisters restaurants in Glasgow talks about her inspirations
Many moons ago, while sitting with my nana at the ripe old age of 11, she tried to encourage me to work towards a business in the food world. She understood my love of food through teaching me the basic skills of always having a kitchen smelling of fresh-baked bread and cakes and a pot of soup on the stove. Obviously she knew I would be older when it eventually came to light, but she knew that I had that kind of head on my shoulders.
That seed was planted, from washing dishes as a Saturday job aged 13 to discovering the cost of breakages soon afterwards! At 50p a breakage and on 50p an hour, I soon learned an expensive lesson about finances in a kitchen environment – also the art of being cautious when working with crockery.
So there it began – learning how to make a restaurant work by taking care of everything, not just the food, but nurturing staff, caring for equipment, looking after yourself. 'It will be long days, you know,' my nana used to say. 'The only place success comes before hard work is in a dictionary!' Well this did indeed ring true as it’s hard work, very hard work. However, I love it.
It’s a challenge, it’s a fun environment to be in, with great hard-working, like-minded people who help to grow the business with me and inspire the next generation of chefs and hospitality people. Where once it was almost the second-class career choice, now with the food industry gathering speed, it’s fast becoming the train to be on.