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Past Certificate Students – Nicola Brady

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What were you doing before you started the course?

I’d been working in marketing for the last 20 years across a range of different industries, the last 13 years of which were spent in financial services. I accepted a redundancy package in August 2015 and started the Three Month course a few weeks later. I didn’t really have much time to think about what I wanted to do once the course had finished – I was just wanted to enjoy the 12 weeks!

What prompted you to do the Three Month course?

I wanted a better work-life balance. I’d been working long hours in my job for a number of years and wasn’t getting to spend much time with my young children. I’d always loved cooking and had thought strongly about doing an intensive cookery course in the past, but the timing was never right. So, when I finally took redundancy, I didn’t think twice about signing up for the course. It meant getting to drop my own kids to school every day, while doing something I love and also having the head space to explore different career options outside of the corporate world.

I’d actually met Lynda years previously (before she opened Dublin Cookery School), when I attended a series of classes that she was running from her house – she impressed me even back then. When it came to choosing a course, I researched several schools but was drawn to Dublin Cookery School because of the school’s reputation, the comprehensive programme including guest chefs, pop up restaurants and work placements and I was also aware that the school had recently been voted ‘best cookery school in Ireland’!

What were your personal highlights on the course?

Coming into the school every day for three months, focusing on myself by doing something I was genuinely passionate about meant a lot to me. It was the first time in my working life that I’d had the opportunity to be a bit selfish and take time out just for me.

The things I remember most about the course are the quality of the tutors and the variety and wealth of experience I was exposed to. I loved the guest chef sessions with the likes of Sunil Ghai and, although I went into the course knowing that I didn’t want to work in a professional kitchen, I thoroughly enjoyed my ‘stage’ placement at Mulberry Garden with chef Graeme Dodrill. He was very patient and attentive and it has given me a massive respect for the industry and the work that goes into running a restaurant. I also loved the buzz of the pop up restaurants where we got to see customers enjoying the food we produced.

Given what I have gone on to do post course, the business day with Blaithnaid Bergin (The Restaurant Advisor) and the HACCP food safety course (both part of the Three Month course) have been invaluable to me.

It was great to get guidance from such experienced industry professionals about the various elements that need to be considered and adhered to when setting up your own food business.

Describe your journey post the cookery school

I finished my course in December 2015 but hadn’t decided on a career path at that point. I knew I didn’t want to go back into the corporate world and wanted to spend more time with my two young children so I needed to develop a business that would meet this brief. During the first couple of months of this year, I attended a ‘start your own business’ evening course and developed a business idea to run cookery classes for kids and teenagers from my home in Cabinteely, Co. Dublin.

In August, I launched Kids Kitchen. I’m delighted with how the first few months have gone – I now run classes three to four times a week for up to 10 kids after school. On the days when I’m not running classes, I’m training to become a nutritional therapist. Once qualified, I’d love to combine the two areas and perhaps design bespoke sessions, where nutritional therapy can cross over into the kitchen with menu design and practical cookery lessons to support diet and lifestyle changes.

What advice would you give someone considering the Three Month course?

You don’t need to start the course with a pre-determined idea about what you want to do once you finish. Go into the course with an open mind – there are lots of different career paths you can take and your idea will evolve throughout the course.