Myles Lamberth has taken what could loosely be described as ‘the scenic route’ from his native Capetown to Strandhill on Ireland’s northwest coast. His childhood was divided between several different countries including Iran, Angola and Namibia, the family moving as his father’s engineering career dictated. Clearly Myles inherited the wanderlust gene and he has added the USA, France, Switzerland, England and now of course Ireland to the seriously impressive list of places he has lived. Almost a decade in Strandhill is the longest time he has ever spent in one spot.
At Shells Café which he runs with his wife Jane, Myles initially took the lead on the cooking side, establishing the quirky style for which Shells is famous. These days as the old adage says, he is working ‘more on the business than in it’ and leaves head chef Justin to head up the busy kitchen. The route Myles took to a cookery career was slightly less than conventional, starting in the South African bush.
In his twenties Myles worked in tourism – river rafting and safaris to be precise. He escorted clients on multiday tours which included providing catering. Luckily Myles wasn’t a stranger to cooking; his paternal grandmother was a talented cook and he learned much from her. As a young teenager he had taken a lead in the home kitchen which paid off now. A typical South African, he was also master of the brai or barbeque; ideal fare for hungry big game chasers.
The archetypal rolling stone, Myles then took to the road wanting to broaden his horizons still further and headed for Europe. As he points out wryly, there’s not a lot of safari work over this way, so he opted for the ski scene. He spent five seasons as a ski chalet host in different countries. Again he was catering for groups and learning his trade on the job. Winters were spent on the ski slopes and summers in a variety of surfing spots around Europe. During this period he met Dubliner Jane, a marketing specialist, who joined in his travelling lifestyle with enthusiasm. Although they didn’t realise it, they were conducting worldwide market research for their eventual joint business.
Strandhill had come on their radar as it was a convenient surfing beach to reach from Dublin where they lived and worked for a while. The time he spent working with Michelle Darmody in The Cake Café was a wonderful experience for Myles. From Michelle he gained a newfound appreciation for slow food and the importance of provenance, good produce and supporting local cottage industries.
For Myles and Jane, the idea of running their own business began to take form. They had already spotted Shells Café on the Strandhill seafront and fancied it as a business they would like to run and build. They trawled small towns on the west coast searching for something similar but, not finding what they wanted, headed back to Cornwall for another year. While there Jane saw an ad seeking managers for Shells; instead they negotiated a lease and the rest is history.
It was 2008 and Ireland was in the teeth of a recession when they opened the doors of a rejuvenated and rebranded Shells Café but that didn’t stop the Lamberths. From café rich cultures in Melbourne, Wellington and the like, they had a very strong sense of the business they wanted to create. Through Jane’s marketing background and Myles broad cooking experience they had a winning combination and nearly ten years on Shells Café is a well established destination café with an enviable local and national profile. #SligoFoodTrail