Meet the GirlCrewer #37: Joanna Bourke, Chef & Owner at The Chopping Board

“Build relationships with the people who are already successful in the industry, do all you can to learn from them”

Meet GirlCrew Dublin member, Joanna Bourke, Chef & Owner at The Chopping Board

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Traditionally, food in Ireland doesn’t have the best reputation, but, thankfully, things are starting to change with many restaurateurs going back to quality, local produce. With the opening of lots of quirky new eateries and a whole range of gastro-pubs over the last couple of years, the food scene is developing nicely. Looking to add her name to Irish food-map is GirlCrew Dublin member, Joanna Bourke. Joanna has recently returned from the across the pond and switched from tech to chef whites in pursuit of her dream, “I was working at a tech multinational for 8 years, in Dublin and San Francisco, before leaving the company in 2014 to pursue my dream of starting a food business.”

After leaving the bright lights, and the warm weather, of California behind Joanne returned the Big Smoke, before taking up refuge in the people’s republic at the prestigious Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork to do their 3 month cookery course. “It was an intensive course, living and working on their farm, “gastro bootcamp” as they called it.” For those of you from further afield, Ballymaloe is a gorgeous cookery school that is basically the stuff of legend in Ireland. You only have to mention the name for people to screw up their face in jealousy and coo over tales of country butter, relish, jams, cakes, meats, fish, and all the other glorious homestyle recipes that showcase the best of Irish food – but, I digress. “Since completing the course, I’ve been getting experience with caterers and former Ballymaloe students around the country, and am now setting up my own catering business The Chopping Board.” Alongside building up her business Joanna is also developing her love of food photography, and is running a blog about her food adventures.

It sounds like she has her hands full, to say the least, but perhaps we could twist her arm to create a GirlCrew event?


1. What is the best thing about your role?

After working in a Finance role before, I love the opportunity to be creative – researching and trying recipes, designing menus, planning food presentation, and I’ve also gotten into food photography since starting my blog last year. Most of all I love working with food, which is what I’ve wanted to do all my life.

2. What did you find most challenging about it?

I love making my own decisions but I miss having team-mates to bounce ideas off. Before this I’ve always worked in a team and liked the input from different voices. I’m a Libra and we can be indecisive, this is where I get stuck!

3. What is your proudest work related achievement to date?

Making the decision to leave a secure job to start my own business. It’s been a rollercoaster year, with some brief moments of panic, but I’m looking forward to the future, building up my business and seeing what that will bring. I’m proud of the catering events I’ve worked on, from planning, practising, testing, cooking and designing, I love the process of bringing an idea to fruition.

4. What would be your one tip to others who want to get involved in this industry?

Build relationships with the people who are already successful in the industry, do all you can to learn from them, even if that is working for free. I’ve learned something from every event I’ve worked on, it’s all valuable!

5. What would be your motto in life, and in work?

I think this quote from Martha Beck is a good place to start, particularly if you are trying to get an idea, project or creative enterprise off the ground…“If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. This is the basic premise that helps all successful creators keep trying in the face of frequent failure. On any given day, the creative ideas you think up will be terrible. Well done! You’re one bad idea closer to a good one.” | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

If you are a GirlCrew member and are interested in being featured in Meet the GirlCrew, just drop me an email at! x


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