A Day in the Life of Damian Corr, GM ely Bar & Brasserie
When and How Do You Begin Your Working Day?
My days are varied. I am the proud father of three young children so the school run is first on the agenda usually. Then I make the journey from Bray where I live to central Dublin, usually on the Dart so I can check emails, get myself together and relax into the day. I arrive at work about 10am. I’m not much of a breakfast person, but I do like a nice cup of Barry’s Tea, which will always get me going in the morning! Then I tend to have a cup of soup and a nibble on something before the lunch service. We always have a daily soup and special, so in the interests of research, I will try those!
How Did Your Passion For Food and Wine Begin?
My dad Frank Corr was the Editor of Hotel & Catering Magazine, so as a youngster there was always conversations about the hospitality industry at home. My mum is a great cook so every Sunday we would have a big lunch of the best ingredients and there was always a bottle of wine on the table. Dad was also the wine correspondent on Hotel & Catering so I can remember even from a very young age that wine was always part of the meal. My sister went to Cathal Brugha Street College, then started a catering recruitment agency called The Firm which is still going, recruiting staff for hospitality jobs. All the family have been involved in this business. I got started through my mum, who dabbled in the industry herself when she worked in the catering division at Beaumount Hospital. During school holidays she would get me the odd shift. I attended Cathal Brugha Street and my first hotel job afterwards was in the old Great Southern Hotel in Rosslare Harbour. I am twenty five years working in this business now. I became General Manager at ely Bar & Brasserie in January this year. I’m so lucky to be working in a fantastic place which serves the very best food and wine. Erik and Michelle have been very supportive and I’ve admired them for a long time. They have massive energy. It’s extremely exciting to work with them.
What Gives You The Most Satisfaction From Your Job?
I’ve been very lucky to work with great people. Also I get great satisfaction from seeing the people I have brought along, then going on to their own achievements. Team development is definitely one of the largest rewards. This is one of the best industries to work in. I was only saying to someone the other day, this is the one job where you get thanked daily. People come up and say thank you for a great meal, or you made their wedding day the best day ever and stuff like that. To be thanked for what you do for a job really means a lot.
Which Part Of Your Job Do You Like The Least?
My kids joke with me because for years I worked on the breakfast shift at a really good hotel, which meant I had to get up very early. The kids used to call it Stupid O’Clock, which is funny because I am definitely not a morning person! I don’t particularly enjoy early starts, and especially not when you’ve worked late the night before then have to do a morning shift. But in this job you have to take it as it comes. You have to be as bright and cheery as you can, no matter what time of the day it is!
What Advice Would You Give Someone Looking to get involved in Hospitality Management ?
No matter where or at what level you are working, always adopt a professional approach. I always say that no matter what job you’ve been given, do the best you can and you will succeed. Also I would say that you have to know your product. Do your research. It’s so easy now to learn as much as you can about what you are doing, with technology and the internet right there at your fingertips. Then put that knowledge to use. And don’t be afraid to share your knowledge. We have a fantastic food tourism product here in Ireland and we will only get the word out there by sharing what we know and being proud of what we have to offer.
If You Weren’t a Wine Bar Manager, What Else Would You Like To Be?
In an ideal world, I’d love to be growing grapes and making wine somewhere in Italy! That’s one for the lottery win! Alternatively, I suppose if I wasn’t doing what I do now, I would have loved to have been a pilot. I’ve had a few flying lessons and it’s an absolutely great feeling to be in the air. I love it. Again, that’s one for further exploration when the lottery ticket comes up!
Are You A Technophile or Technophobe?
Having just extolled the virtues of using technology for research, I actually must say I am a technophobe! I really don’t like using it on a personal level. At home we don’t allow mobile phones at the dinner table. In the evenings the kids can have some time on their computers but then we will play a game or do that silly thing called talking to each other! I think it's very important for the kids to be able to live without technology all the time. However, on a professional level, it’s an absolute necessity to be able to do research or communicate what you do through the internet and social media. Technology is irreplaceable in that sense.
What are the daily challenges of your job?
Every day is something new. Every time the phone rings, it could be someone booking a romantic dinner, a wedding party or a corporate event for 300 people. You just never know. Managing that kind of fluctuation on a daily basis is a challenge, albeit an enjoyable one.
How Do You Manage the Work/Life Balance
I definitely work to live rather than the other way round. You cannot perform in your job unless you are allowed some time to be away from it. Time off is essential and I am lucky in that I work with people who believe that time off means time off, so you can recharge the batteries. My free time is precious. I like to spend it with the kids and perhaps enjoying a bottle of wine with a nice organic steak!
How Do You Relax When You Get Time Off?
I love walking. We live in Bray so we are so close to lots of great places to walk. We go for a trek up Bray Head or Sugar Loaf Mountain. We have so many places we can go that are close to home. I love to be outdoors.
What Is Your Guilty Pleasure?
How can any pleasure be guilty?! If I had to say one thing, cheese is my achillies heel. I love lots of good cheese with really good wine. Oh and there’s the Shiraz with good beef...
What’s Your Favourite Good Food Ireland Place To Visit?
Well I am really lucky to be at ely because we serve all the things I love, like great organic meats with great wines. I also like to go to The Cellar Restaurant at The Merrion Hotel. I worked with Executive Chef Ed Cooney for ten years at The Merrion and he’s a brilliant chef. It’s a great set up there.