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Serving up a warm bowl of soup and a bit of a chat at Limerick's Milk Market

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Serving up a warm bowl of soup and a bit of a chat at Limerick's Milk Market

Anne FitzGerald, of The Soupermarket, rises at 4am ahead of a day at Limerick's Milk Market

What time do you get up?

I get up at 4am on market days otherwise around 7.30am.

What is your normal breakfast?

Tea, tea and more tea.

Do you go for a walk or to the gym before/after the office?

I try to take Ziggy for a walk on Knockfierna every day, weather permitting.

You arrive at the office at what time?

St Mary’s Aid Kitchen, the Milk Market and other people’s kitchens are my places of work and there is no fixed time. It depends on how busy I am. However I spend the early hours at home answering e-mails and preparing bespoke menus for clients.

What are your first duties?

Putting the kettle on and checking emails.

How many cups of coffee/tea

would you drink a day?

I daren’t count but I should buy shares in Barry’s tea.

What is normal lunch - do you have a favourite place?

We change the menu every week at The Soupermarket in the Milk Market, so I like to use my daily lunch to try out different soup recipes - everything from carrot, coriander and ginger to potato and thyme or fragrant Thai broths.

Do you have many meetings during the day?

Not really. I used to have a lot more face-to-face meetings when I began working in the food industry aged 17, cooking for the Duke of Devonshire on the Blackwater River. I then had my own restaurant, Lloyd’s of Adare. Now, I run Anne Lloyd Catering, so, while I prefer to meet clients face to face to discuss their requirements, in reality I do a lot of it on the computer.

What time do you finish up at?

Whenever I’ve got everything done. As well as The Soupermarket at the Milk Market, I do bespoke catering for dinner parties, weddings, funerals, and other family events through Anne Lloyd Catering, so sometimes it’s lunch time, and sometimes it’s midnight before I finish.

Do you watch much TV?

No. I like a few programmes but don’t follow soaps as I’d miss half of them and I’m not too good at recording things.

Do you read the newspapers?

Yes I read the paper everyday.

What do you do to relax?

I play ‘Words’ on my I-pad and have the odd glass of wine. I spend time with my family and when time allows take a drive to Cashel or Dingle or wherever my nose leads me to eat decent food at reasonable prices. I like watching the rugby and hurling in the pub with friends.

Are you able to leave the office behind?

Absolutely not. There is always something going on in my mind like what soups I’m going to do for the Soupermarket or creating new recipes. We want everything to be as natural as possible. We only use local suppliers. So I’m always on the go - getting our potatoes from Cecil Gallagher in Ballysteen, our carrots, leeks, beetroot, parsnips and whatever is in season from my mate Colm Battles and his son Josh in Kildimo, and our herbs from the Quinns in the Milk Market. It would be cheaper to get some stuff from wholesalers but people know we are selling a different, quality product. We are selling Limerick really.”

What is a perfect work day?

Hard to say but it would involve contented customers trying out some of our new soup recipes. I get a strange kick out of knowing we’re in touch with nature - our soup containers and spoons are biodegradable, and we don’t use colourings or preservatives.

Do you ever ‘lose the cool’ and if so what would make you annoyed?

I think one of my strengths is staying cool under pressure. I don’t generally lose my cool but lack of empathy to one’s fellow human beings would tempt me.