Five minutes with Clodagh McKenna
The exuberant chef, cookery writer and familiar face from ITV’s This Morning, Clodagh McKenna, talks about what it’s like cooking on live TV, country life, and her formula for the perfect weekend breakfast.
Feature image by Dora Kamierak.
Tell us about your life in the countryside…
The garden was the first thing I did when I moved into our cottage at Highclere Castle four years ago with my fiancé, Harry. With acres to look after, it was overwhelming – but now I am as passionate about growing veg as I am about cooking. Tina Turner likes to strut around our garden. She is one of our lovely Burford Brown hens – there’s also Henneth Paltrow and Eggy Pop! They eat out of my hand, run after me and follow me everywhere I go.
What do you do to relax?
I am definitely a tree-hugger. There is an incredible energy around trees – I go out with a mat, lie flat under a tree, look up and breathe it in. I used to be such a rushing person, but I’m not any more – the countryside does that to you. Every day I do my happy routine: I know, that sounds so cheesy! It involves taking an ice-cold shower for three minutes. I started off with one minute and built up. I find it helps me get rid of anxiety. Harry does it too. He was terrified to start with and thought he was going to have a heart attack!
Do you still get nervous cooking live on TV?
On This Morning you need to feel the pressure because it’s live and almost an institution. I feel a great responsibility when I go on the show to cook – there could be someone at home feeling alone, and you’re in their living room. During lockdown, I kept thinking about someone who needed to be cheered up – that was part of my job. And Phil and Holly are a dream to work with, the kindest people I have ever met.
Who is your inspiration?
My mother taught me and my sisters to be strong women and go for our dream, whatever it may be. Growing up in Ireland in the 1980s, it was so brilliant to have that hope. When I started cheffing, it wasn’t something people would get excited about – not like now. But I loved it and my mum was so supportive.
What does a good weekend look like to you?
On a Saturday I go out, gather eggs and make shakshuka: fried onions and garlic, tomatoes, harissa and our fresh eggs. And I’ll have a flat white: one of my big treats to myself over lockdown was a barista machine. It’s the best thing.
Clodagh is an ambassador for Clarence Court Eggs. Follow her on Instagram at @clodagh_mckenna