High Flyers: Clare cooks up a storm at Waterman House

Clare McCann, cookery school manager at Waterman House Cookery School.

In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Clare McCann, cookery school manager at Waterman House Cookery School in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. As well as supporting chef Niall McKenna in the delivery of classes at the school, Clare also manages the day-to-day calendar of the business and develops seasonal cookery class experiences, demonstrations and tastings with third parties.

What was your first job?

At 17 I was a Tesco checkout runner. It was a great first job and I learned a lot about organisation and dealing with the public. I met some real friends for life too.

What qualifications do you have?

I have quite a varied range. I studied computing at the University of Ulster and also have a qualification in project management. I am a qualified accounting technician and I also completed a 12-week course at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Co Cork.

What do you attribute your success to?

I have worked for some amazing managers and mentors, people I greatly respected and who taught me important business qualities. I have learned that it’s OK to make changes as long as you are passionate and believe in what you’re doing.

How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?

I’m dependable, I’m open to change and always open to learning. I’m a people pleaser too and I love to see people enjoying themselves and learning new things. I’m organised, with lists everywhere and while I’m outgoing I’m sometimes nervous, but that’s what makes challenges an amazing part of life.

Who do you look up to in business?

Top Northern Ireland chef Niall McKenna. His drive and ambition in business is outstanding. I greatly respect his motivation and success in the food industry and his excitement about his new restaurant Waterman at Waterman House in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is infectious.

How do you get the best out of people who work for you?

Gaining and earning respect. Saying thank you, appreciating what they do, and listening to and giving honest feedback.

If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?

There would be more investment in future generations as well better skills and jobs in the food sector - especially for women.

What website or app could you not do without?

We heavily rely on Shopify to market our classes and build and manage customer relationships. It is a great app which easily interacts with other social platforms.

What was the last book you read?

Lessons in Service, based on the famous Charlie Trotters restaurant. A must-read for all in the service industry.

What car do you drive?


Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I lived in Co Cork, studying and working at Ballymaloe for nearly five months. I worked alongside Darina Allen, Rory O’Connell and Rachel Allen as a teaching assistant. One of my best experiences in life.

What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?

Travelling. I love to get away and explore new places. Having time to relax is important in life and learning about food and culture in different countries is paramount. I’m travelling around France this year and cannot wait to sample some of the finest seafood in the south.

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