In the My Kind of Job spotlight is Declan O’Donoghue, founder and managing director of Erne Larder Preserves in Enniskillen
What was your first job ?
I washed pots and pans in a local hotel at the age of 13. I hated it so much I only did it for two weekends. I didn’t expect then to be back in the kitchen as a trainee chef a few years later.
What business experience do you have?
I don’t come from a typical business background but I’ve certainly got extensive experience gathered from holding several head chef positions at top hotels. I started my own business in 2016 from scratch, no funding, no guidance, no mentoring, no hand-outs, and so I’ve learned very quickly how to build and run a small business and brand. Erne Larder specialises in Irish Bacon Jam and Irish Bacon Ketchup.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
There are many highlights from cooking for many celebrities, to overseeing all catering responsibilities for President Putin and the Russian delegates at the G8 in 2012 to most recently winning a Lidl Kickstart contract which saw our Irish Bacon Jam on the shelf of every Lidl store in Ireland.
How would you describe yourself to someone you have never met?
While I am quite laid back now I haven’t always been during so. I am a very passionate about cheffing and food production. I am a good listener and always compassionate, something having my two kids has taught me.
Who do you look up to in business?
We have some fantastic entrepreneurs like Sean Quinn, Michael Deane, even Conor McGregor to name a few, but there are hundreds of hard working and independent retailers and artisan food producers I admire. They are the backbone of our industry.
What one thing would you change to make your job easier?
Anything that would make it easier to find staff who share my passion for good food and service.
How do you get the best out of the people who work for ?
Unfortunately, I now have only myself as part of my work force, but, being a head chef for many years prior to launching Erne Larder, I always knew how to work people to their strengths. I always focused on positives and tried to encourage people. I always believed in leading by example, being hands-on and driving forward with my team alongside me.
What is your greatest passion outside of work and family?
I don’t have a lot of free time as I work around 100 hours a week and whatever free time I have is absolutely family time. But I love anything and everything martial arts and follow other sports especially football, rugby and hurling.
What is your favourite book?
Without a shadow of a doubt its Gordon Ramsay’s autobiography ‘Humble Pie’ because it’s intriguing, real, funny and very relatable.
What sort of car do you drive?
I have a Vauxhall Insignia SRI VX line, a beautiful car and does the job, but I’m holding out for a Range Rover in a few years.
Have you any unfilled ambitions?
I want Erne Larder to be a nationwide household brand. I also want to see my products on sale across Europe, the US and Australia and I aim to open my own restaurant. Quite a few challenges ahead!
What advice would you give someone starting out in their career?
Follow your dreams and be prepared to work as hard as you can to achieve them. But the harsh reality is that’s going to take huge sacrifice, both personal and professional. Surround yourself with positive people and block out any negatives. Most of all be honest and considerate, which I believe are the two biggest assets in business.