Did you know Irish women like to breakfast early even when it’s a crisp, cold January morning? However we don’t get out of bed early, take time over our wardrobe, squeeze into the Manalo Blahnik’s for anyone, oh no we are particular. And Angela Hartnett is someone we are happy to do just that for and to set our early alarms.
There aren’t many situations where I feel a little tingle of excitement as I stand on the platform at 6.45am at Beckenham Junction train station in January. However Wednesday was one and I was thrilled to I step through the doors of Corrigan’s in Mayfair to be warmed by the lovely greeting and welcome from our chair Cecilia Gallagher. Just to diverge slightly, Cecilia is the quintessential host, working the room in a warm, embracing, gentle manner, making sure no one is alone, keeping the group under control – tricky as that is – and setting the tone for our gatherings. What more could WIN ask for I wonder?
It took about ten minutes for the room to fill up and it became apparent that not only are Irish women happy to rise early, they are happy to chat as well, evident by the rise in noise levels as we gathered. Cecilia sets the example of a welcoming, warm atmosphere and the full house and increased noise levels from chatter are a testament to her style. If you are not a member of WIN now this is a good moment to join.
Croissants, pastries, cheese and ham with fresh juice and strong, proper coffee were available and served by the professionals. If you have never been to Corrigan’s I would urge you to go now. The food, simple as it was, was spot on and the team on that morning were excellent. I suspect there was not a huge choice as to who worked the session however they were eager to please and serve and they embodied the professionalism that both Angela and Richard would expect. The decor is understated elegance, think of an Irish country house furnished by people with taste and old money (i.e. not the prize bonds) and you get a sense. Warm, inviting and somewhere you snuggle into for an evening of Michelin quality food. A must for everyone, at least once, go on treat yourself, it’s going to be a good year.
It was easy for us to be encouraged to sit down as we were eager to hear from Angela. In fact as she appeared out of the kitchen in her chef’s whites, there was a hushed mummer around the room “oh there’s Angela’s”.
A quick and professional introduction from Mary Daly from AIB-UK, our most generous sponsors. And then we had our star: Angela.
It is hard to get a sense of people just from TV or magazine articles, you feel you get to know them but is that true? Clearly by the full house that turned up we all had the same feelings about Angela and she lived up to our expectations. Speaking without notes, it was like she was just having a chat with us, no agenda from her, no side, just happy to share her thoughts and stories of her life both professional and family. It was a delightful and we were in awe and entertained. Sharing thoughts about starting work with Gordon, how he encouraged her, to sharing anecdotes about family dinners, to how she runs her business today, it was an inspiring talk without the need for rabble rousing. It was testament as to how much we enjoyed the talk that the questions kept coming and coming.
Sheila O’Reilly – WIN Member