Some people really need no introduction and Bríd Torrades most definitely qualifies in that regard. She has been a trail blazer on the Irish food scene for the last three decades and runs the hugely successful Ósta Café and Wine Bar at the Garavogue Weir in the centre of Sligo Town.
Bríd has been interested in food since a preschool fascination with cookery book photos but neither food nor nutrition were deemed a suitable career. Instead she did a language based secretarial course before taking work in Germany as an Au Pair. There access to international cookery books plus an appreciative but critical host family encouraged her interest in cooking. She then took a position in a Japanese bank in Dusseldorf. At that time the city boasted the highest concentration of Japanese inhabitants outside Japan and Bríd fell in love with the culture and the food – and even began learning the language. Aged 21, she returned to Dublin and took over the family cafe for a few years, studying professional cookery in Cathal Brugha Street as a day release student.
Meeting her husband Marc, a horticulturalist, on his first trip to Ireland changed the course of things and she moved to his native France. Feeling nervous about the demands of a professional French kitchen, she worked as a hotel receptionist and taught English as a foreign language instead. Two years on, expecting the first of their five children, they decided to try life in Ireland and made a brave lifestyle choice – buying an abandoned rectory on seven acres, skirting a salmon and trout river near Collooney.
With the optimism and energy of youth, they took on the task of restoring both house and garden which were in very poor condition, without even running water or electricity. They started a cut flower business but a year on, Marc broke his leg in a bad accident. This brought their long-term plans forward and Glebe House Restaurant and Accommodation opened. It quickly found its stride, getting into both the Bridgestone 100 Best Restaurants and 100 Best Places to Stay in the first year.
The young couple ran Glebe House very successfully until they sold in the early 2000s when Bríd took over the cafe at The Model. When it closed for renovations in 2006 she took the opportunity to open Ósta.
Bríd and Mark have collected wild food since childhood so unsurprisingly Ósta’s menu features seaweed and hedgerow fare. Bríd is an avid supporter of using local produce – recognised by Bord Bia recently when Ósta Café was awarded the Just Ask Restaurant of the Month for December. She was an active member of Eurotoques for over 20 years and also represented the catering industry on the Marine Stewardship Stakeholder Council. Never one to sit still, she completed a Masters in Applied Culinary Nutrition last year; one of the first seven people in the world to do so.
Bríd moved to Sligo with the idea of surfing the wild Atlantic for relaxation. 30 years on it’s still a dream – but never say never!