Ireland is enjoying a culinary revolution?of sorts. In the second of our four-part Whole Foodies series, Kate O’Dowd meets with Slice and The Cake Caf? founder Michelle Darmody, one of many inspiring women in Ireland today driving our country’s dynamic food scene towards the better through using healthier ingredients, supporting the local economy and a total investment of passion. Read part one with young raw food trailblazer Katie Sanderson here.
Michelle Darmody’s eateries The Cake Caf? and Slice are Dublin?comfort-food favourites. She’s also a stalwart in the’development of Ireland’s food scene.? Her passion for?food as a social connector began in childhood. ?My?parents loved to throw dinner parties, and I loved the?excitement leading up to guests arriving, followed by?the buzz as they enjoyed what we’d made.? Michelle?almost studied food, then went to art college?instead, but as many students do, she supported?herself by working in restaurants.? The Cake Caf??came about thanks to Michelle’s longing for her’mom’s baking, the likes of which you couldn’t find?in caf’s at the time. ?It’s changed now, and homebaked?cakes are everywhere, but in 2005, it was all?French patisserie stuff. I wanted a place that served?homemade baked beans and Victoria sponge.?
Slice?arrived in Stoneybatter last year, bringing the same home kitchen vibes to Michelle’s locale. ?I love the?idea of a neighbourhood caf?. I know people’s orders?as they walk in, and I’ve made some real friends?with customers.?? The idea of community extends ?beyond Michelle’s customer base; she works, almost?exclusively, with small Irish producers – and this, in’turn, ties back to her involvement with organisations?like Slow Food Ireland, GIY Ireland and StreetFeast.??I don’t have as much time as I’d like to really?participate, but I advocate and jump in when I can.?
As well as feeding? the locals and writing a regular?food column for the Irish Examiner , where Michelle’really gets passionate is in the special projects she’does in collaboration with other foodies and artists?? everything from holding pop-up dining events?and workshops, creating food fanzines, designing a?linen collection, penning and designing The Cake?Caf? Bake Book,?and?catering a series of IMMA events with artist Fiona?Hallinan, under their Concrete Tiki moniker.??I love connecting art and food. People eat food every’day, so it’s universal in a way that painting or theatre’might not be. It opens the arts up to everyone.?