Paula Sneyd had a dream of opening up her café ever since she was in her early 20’s. Having three children she felt it wasn’t the right time until they were grown up. During those years, she honed in on her skills and worked as a chef in many successful businesses and continued to upskill on her business education.
I was lucky enough to meet Paula and her daughter Saoirse when I started working in Kennedy’s Food Store in 2011. Paula was a chef and Saoirse worked with me on the floor. Her sister Caoimhe worked with us when she finished school for a short time too before heading to study Culinary Arts. We all went our separate ways and life went on, as it does.
In 2016 it was a delightful surprise to see that Paula, Saoirse and Caoimhe had united forces to create Cloud Café in North Strand. Paula’s dream had finally become a reality.
Their primary focus was to create delicious, healthy food with high-quality ingredients at a reasonable price. They have successfully created a neighbourhood café that connects with their residents and surrounding businesses in a very relaxed and communal manner. Paula has teamed up with the local community gardens (Mud Island Community Garden and Pat Murphy Community Garden) to deliver fresh vegetables and herbs every day.
Cloud Cafe has always reminded me of a café you’d find in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I love how they constantly evolve with their community. There is very much an ebb and flow between the customers and the business. Simply, it’s just a cool place to be!
With Paula running the business and the kitchen, Caoimhe as sous chef and Saoirse as front of house, they make the perfect team. Since opening, they have gone from strength to strength and during COVID they collaborated with local artists and businesses to use their unused space as a shop front for customers. Thus, reinforcing their community vibe.
What type of business is Cloud Cafe?
Cloud Cafe is a small café rooted in the local community. We try to use the best products possible while keeping things at a reasonable price.
Was this a long-standing family dream and how long was the planning process?
We always talked about it when the time was right. I did a start your own business course, a chef course and worked part-time in different restaurants. I’ve been talking about it since I was 20 and it was only much later after the kids had grown up that I thought the time was right.
What do you love about having a small business in Dublin 3?
It’s brilliant! We love it. It’s just such a good area. There is so much going here. We’d always wanted a place not too far from home so when this premises came up, it was perfect. North Strand is just such a wonderful collection of local families who have been here for years, young couples and families plus a load of small businesses.
What positives would you take from the last 18months?
That our business model is able to survive during difficult times and that we are able to adapt and grow stronger in a difficult situation. We turned our front, glasshouse area into a shop front for local businesses. This was a fabulous way to connect with the community.
What is the business ethos/philosophy?
We wanted to give people what they want at a reasonable price but always provide healthy food. We try to cater for vegans and vegetarians as much as we can.
What advice would you give to people looking at starting their own food business?
There are so many entrepreneurial courses out there that are either free or low cost. Network as much as you can; you realise you’re not alone in this and everyone is very willing to share their knowledge and help whenever they can. There are local businesses that are connected by WhatsApp groups that are there to support each other. This has been invaluable to us. We are willing to help and give advice to anyone and would be more than happy to talk to them.
If you could have any three people at your dinner party, who would they be and what would you cook?
We would probably just have a table of nibbles and wine. (Too tired to cook ;-))
Saoirse: Anthony Bourdain, love him! Hector O’hEeochagain and my cousin Shauna who lives in Amsterdam.
I just love how the universe works!! I had originally been referred to Spade Enterprise Centre by one of the leaders of my Plato group. Upon making contact with Pascal, the then general manager just happened to be looking for a photographer to work with for the revamp of their website. So he hired me. Coincidentally I needed a space to work during the time of our renovations. Luckily Spade had a place for me short term.
I worked on the photographs running up to my arrival in the centre and it really got me excited about being there. It was easy to understand why Pascal was so passionate about the buildings.
‘We are an Enterprise Centre in the heart of Dublin City, that puts your business success at the heart of what we do.’
I was to capture the true essence of Spade. I wanted to show the beauty of the Cathedral office conversion with its authenticity intact as well as the shared kitchens surrounding it.
I loved this project. I loved this place! I loved, even more, working in this space! I’m not just saying this, I loved everything about the office space I was working in. It’s a photographer’s dream. The customer care from all the staff involved was impeccable.
To put it simply, I felt right at home. It’s going to be hard to leave but my new extension/workspace needs me.
Thank you Spade for a magical 4 weeks!
New website design and branding by the talented Killian Flanagan
Recently, my Dad got to visit us since we last saw him in March 2020. It was the first time he would see his grandchild, Elliot. It was a momentous occasion and also a sad one. My mum passed away in February of last year and never got the chance to see her grandchild. This was a time for us to heal and well as to celebrate. We went to Glendalough to scatter her ashes and I can honestly say, we all experienced something spiritual that day. Mum was there, she really was there.
My Dad brought many of Mum’s things with him that he thought I might want to keep. Along with these were a Mrs Beaton’s Family Cookery book and a plastic sleeve of magazine and newspaper recipes she had kept over the years. Some dating back to the early 1980s! The most popular recipes coming from You Magazine’s Let’s Cook section. I think it’s incredible that I didn’t know about these recipes until they were handed to me at exactly the right moment that I need them! I’ve been soul searching for a specific direction in mypersonal projects and Mum just literally landed the idea on my lap.
I plan to go through these recipes and relive meals that bring back memories and have a cultural significance to me. I want to share the wonderful flavours of South Africa with you as well as explore traditional recipes of Mrs Beaton’s. Most importantly, I want to keep the spirit of Mum alive by showcasing her favourite meals.
First up, Fantastic Chicken Curry by Dini Scholtz. Mum was absolutely mad about curry! Her love for it began when she moved to South Africa in the 1970s. Thanks to Mum, I’ve been eating curry for so long I actually can’t remember when I started! The smell of curry cooking brings me back to Mum’s kitchen. It was a weekly meal in our house and a lamb curry (her absolute fav!) was often a way to celebrate a special occasion. So, it’s no surprise to me that there are tons of curry recipes in the folder.
A South African curry is a blend of recipes from numerous cultures. There are no airs and graces. The magic lies in its beautiful flavour and it’s a nostalgic feeling of homeliness and togetherness. My head is filled with flashing images of the beautiful colours of the nation. The bright, bold colours come from our food, art, clothing, architecture, and landscape. I wanted this to come through in my image. I wanted the essence of South Africa to shine.
There is deep-seated history in the South African curry. A history that can mean many different things to many people. It’s a signification of difficult times passed but also a huge representation of a colourful nation united in our love for flavour. Food has the incredible ability to break down social barriers and bring us all together in harmony.
See my adapted recipe below:
8 chicken pieces or 6 chopped chicken fillets
15ml olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
(blend both of these into fine pieces)
1/2 finely chopped red chilli
5 ml ground cumin
5ml ground coriander
5ml cayenne pepper
1 can of tomatoes
150ml plain yoghurt
15ml fresh coriander leaves (chopped)
5ml garam masala
5ml curry powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
15ml of fresh coriander leaves
Sweet fruity chutney
A sprinkle of coconut flakes
Fry chicken in a nonstick pan until golden brown. Set aside. Wipe the pan and return to heat. Add oil once the pan is hot. Stir fry the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. Reduce the heat and add cumin, turmeric, coriander and cayenne pepper along with a tablespoon of water and stirfry for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, yoghurt and half of the fresh coriander. Reduce the heat and add the chicken and about 1/4 cup of water. add the garam masala and curry powder. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir and simmer on low for two hours. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Chop the remaining leaves just before serving and sprinkle on top.
Note: This on a spicy one! To reduce the spice take out the chilli and curry powder.
Tip: After you have simmered for two hours. Cool and refrigerate. Cook the next days for that added flavour!
Most importantly, share it with the ones you love x