Ethna Reynolds, Nook Cafe, Collooney

Effervescent by nature and infectiously enthusiastic about her love of food and cooking, Ethna Reynolds has poured her personality into Nook Cafe in Collooney. No wonder she and Nook have garnered a slew of awards since opening last May. We talked to Ethna to find out a little more about her.

Originally from Mohill in Leitrim, Ethna first came to Sligo to study Fine Art. From the tender age of 16 she took part time student work in various kitchens, beginning with the basics but learning quickly and moving up the ‘food chain’ towards cheffing. Her aim at the time was to become a teacher using her Fine Arts degree, but opportunities were scarce and the lure of a big world outside the northwest proved strong.

Several years travelling around southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand and working in different types of kitchen helped to shape the budding chef. The result is Ethna’s signature style which she describes as ‘modern Irish’. It’s a seamless blend of cultures and cuisines, using the best of local and Irish produce to create sometimes quirky and always delicious food.

A BA in Culinary Arts at Killybegs beckoned and a fully fledged chef emerged. She has a culinary pedigree behind her – both her mother and aunt were chefs as well, though Ethna says, laughing ‘My mother tried to warn me off!”.

A spell working at the delightful Shell’s Cafe in Strandhill was followed by opening her own business ‘My Lovely Lunchbox’ selling healthy, convenient and nutritionally balanced lunchboxes at the markets. The search for a larger kitchen led her serendipitously to Collooney and to opening Nook.

Her arty background is visible not only in the charming decor, but also in the truly beautiful plates of food emanating from the busy kitchen. Nook is currently open from Tuesday to Saturday and for occasional Supper Clubs.

Nook Café & Restaurant, Collooney, Co Sligo