August 23rd 2010 and a group of very enthusiastic people with a dream to open a food service business hit the ground running with a colourful and fun introduction to each other and the realisation the the next 12 weeks is going to really hard work and a lot of fun. Personal profiling for strengths and team balance with our Occupational Psychologist Tim Bergin, Restaurant Operations introduction and history from our very experienced expert Otmar Wullich, a visit to Dundrum Shopping Centre to assess the fascinating mix of independents and franchises battling it for a piece of the food service pie and finish off the first week with a comprehensive assessment and feedback on our progress so far.

Knife, apron and sensible shoes packed, we headed to the world renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School for an immersion week in the quality food culture. Sourcing, growing, preparing, serving simple fantastic food. Darina Allen, Rory O Connell and Rachel Allen ably assisted by their team of brilliant tutors brought our group from zero to blast off within a few days. Cakes, soups, casseroles, breads were produced with extraordinary competence within hours of arriving. Visits to the greenhouses, gardens, Cafe at the End of the Shop and a wonderful chat with the legendary Myrtle Allen rounded off the learning experience with a marked reluctance to venture back into the midlands. After all the sun shone for the entire week casting a magical hue on the trip.

It was on with the wellies and designer shabby chique for our trip to the Electric Picnic in Stradbally where our intrepid group were given the task of assessing the 147 food service outlets at this riveting musical carnival. Heads were spinning with excitement by 7pm and we also caught up with two further legends in the food industry- Richard Corrigan and John Mc Kenna who kindly posed with us. Richard gave very simple and sound advice based on his own award winning restaurants.

Back to class to think about it all and present it back to us and review what was learned in a hectic but interesting week for all..

Tuesday saw us begin the task of nailing down that concept – the real thinking began as Tommy, Caroline, Joe, Sverre and Craig spent a day each thinking, thinking and thinking some more as more and more ideas flowed – the beginning of the Business Plan process- getting it all – every single bit of it- down on paper and then starting the refining processs.

Hard work but unless it gets written down, its out there in the air and will not make it to any drawing board.
The hard work done, our group settled down to learn from wine expert Charles Searson and owner of the family wine business Searsons.Charles shared his vast experience and secrets of making money from wine.

We followed this up by a truly invigorating and stress releasing two hours with Suzanne Mc Cabe – leaving our heads clear to enjoy the weekend.

Next week – week four as we prepare to take our business plan one step further and begin the financial process  with Ronan Deegan of Delaney Locke and Thorpe and finish the week with our interiors expert Christopher Daly who will amuse and educate in equal measure.