Over the past 15 years, Clodagh McKenna has become one of the most recognized faces and brands in Ireland’s Food & Lifestyle sectors.
With her passion for food combined with her business savvy, Clodagh has developed her brand into an emerging business empire encompassing Clodagh’s Kitchen restaurants, her television shows, cookbooks and her food column in Ireland’s number 1 glossy magazine, The Gloss. She is regularly asked to contribute to food columns in national newspapers and magazines.
More recently Clodagh has taken the US by storm with her hugely popular US show, Clodagh’s Irish Food Trails which aired on PBS and Create TV reaching audience levels of 15 million.
In addition to the series, Clodagh successfully published two of her cookbooks, Homemade and Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries in USA. She best describes herself as an “eater and a feeder”!
Raised in Cork, Clodagh’s deep love of food was born in the McKenna household where having a meal together as a family each evening was always a priority.
At the age of 14, Clodagh waved goodbye to her parents and set off on a wonderful adventure to Chateaubourg, France to stay with the Famille Ronsin on a foreign exchange programme. What was meant to be a one off two-week trip turned into long sun-blushed summers soaking up all she could from Madame Ronsin, a fabulous cook who filled Clodagh’s holidays with amazing, unforgettable and inspiring French food.
Years later, fresh from college in NYC, Clodagh returned to Ireland with ‘a fire’ in her belly and a strong work ethic and enrolled in the world-renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork. There, she fell in love with the ethos of Ballymaloe and stayed for three years working as a chef with the guidance of her mentor Darina Allen.
She became involved with Slow Food and the Farmer’s Markets movement in Ireland and opened her own stall selling fresh homemade pasta, pates and chutneys. Italy soon beckoned and Clodagh spent three years living in Turin where, among other things, she lectured at the Slow Food University of Gastronomy. Her time spent in Turin has deeply influenced her cooking.
Many of the dishes in her books and the menu in Clodagh’s Kitchen are inspired by this wonderful time in her life. In 2011, Clodagh opened the doors of Clodagh’s Kitchen, Homemade by Clodagh and Clodagh’s Bakery in Arnotts Department Store in Dublin. In 2013, Clodagh opened her first stand-alone venture Clodagh’s Kitchen in Blackrock, Co. Dublin.
To date Clodagh has published four books. Her first bestseller, The Irish Farmers’ Market Cook Book, was published by Harper Collins in 2006. Clodagh’s second book, Fresh from the Sea, was published in 2009 by Gill and Macmillan.
Homemade was published in 2010 and was awarded the prestigious Gourmand Award for Best in the UK category. Homemade was released in the USA to great success and was also translated into German.
Clodagh’s most recent book, Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries, was published in 2012 by Kyle Books and was also released in the US in March 2013.
Clodagh filmed two television series to accompany her Irish Farmer’s Market Cookbook, the first of which debuted on RTÉ in 2007. Part two debuted in 2008 and was picked up by media outlets in the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Clodagh’s third series Fresh From The Sea was broadcast on RTÉ in 2009 and a second series of the same name aired in 2010 and was met with rave reviews.
Clodagh’s Irish Food Trails is currently airing on PBS and Create TV in the USA. She is due to film a new series in September, which will be aired on Create TV, PBS and RTÉ next spring.
Clodagh has been a guest on numerous television programs including RTÉ’s Late Late Show, The Saturday Night Show, Ireland AM and most recently Saturday Night with Miriam.
In the US, she has appeared on The Rachel Ray Show, The Today Show, The Nate Berkus Show and The Better Show.
In the UK, Clodagh has appeared on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, Rick Steins Food Heroes and Market Kitchen.
Clodagh is dedicated to raising awareness and donating her time to great causes. She is a proud ambassador of Haven, Make-A-Wish Ireland and supports many Irish organisations such as The One Percent Difference Campaign, Our Lady's Hospital Crumlin and Focus Ireland.
Clodagh is a proud ambassador for Haven is an Irish based NGO working in Haiti to rebuild homes and communities in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.
'One of the projects that really stands out for me is the training of boat makers as part of a livelihoods scheme in Gonaives. Haven set up training in boat making for local men to not only learning a skill but also to gain a boat that could then provide them with a livelihood. This showed me that the country and Haven didn’t turn their back to the sea that did so much damage; instead they looked to the sea that surrounds them for solutions.'
Clodagh hosts the annual Taste of Haiti dinner each year in aid of Haven and will visit Haiti in April 2014.
Make-A-Wish Ireland has one simple aim - they grant the wishes of children aged between 3 and 17 years living with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Since arriving in Ireland in 1992, Make-A-Wish has granted wishes for almost 1,500 brave children.