About Aoibheann & Paul
This is where we get to waffle on a bit !
one life | many adventures
Looking back we realise that, about every 10 years, our life journey took a different path. We’ve travelled, and we’ve learned and developed so much. So we look at these lives as adventures.
We’ve been together now about 30 years, and are often reminded that life is short. So what if we just had one more adventure, what would it be ?
First we made space to see what happened. We stopped having our roots in piles of concrete or bricks ( even though they were such beautiful castles ! ), and having a family of staff to look after on a daily basis ( we do miss connecting with people though ).
We’ve seen the foodie world from both sides. We’ve been the demanding customer all our lives, and the luxury hospitality provider and custom portrait maker in our latest adventures.
High-end customer service has always been at the heart of everything we do… and we always like to go further than the rest. gastro mk, our restaurant at maison mk our Marrakech hotel, was consistently voted No. 1 on Tripadvisor for over eight years. The customer is at the front of our minds, always, even at our own expense.
Here we are… a self conscious little selfie as we leave our home of 25 years… with just a few suitcases.
Moving out of our comfort zone in more ways than one !
We’re more used to being behind the scenes, but on this adventure, we promise we will push ourselves out there more.
brave steps to move on… goodbye mk… we miss our guests
2020 news: maison mk is officially sold, the building and the ‘maison mk’ name and website. It hasn’t reopened yet, and the new owner hasn’t changed our maisonmk.com website either !
After 10 years, we stopped, at the top… to make space, and room for one more life adventure.
We are hugely grateful for all the awards, accolades and kind reviews, and connecting with our guests, but our new adventure started unfolding some years ago as we started to simplify life to the maximum.
We stopped mk, closed the doors, and took some well needed respite. We still love working all the hours of the day, but we have created time & space so that we can also put LIVING first.
We took time to learn digital skills, and fromcooktochef was born quite naturally online so that we can still connect, no matter what we are doing and wherever we are.
This brings a huge sense of freedom, and so much fun again back in our lives.
We want the same for you…
This time the adventure is to LIVE, and love life first, whilst also delivering to our customers. That looks a bit crazy if we read that back to ourselves ! Isn’t that what we’re all doing anyway? NO ! That’s my point, I don’t think we were.
The back story
We met at University – both studying leading edge style degrees in electronic systems engineering ( Aoibheann ) and computerised accountancy (Paul). We both had a musical background. We learned why we were so joined at the hip when our first business mentor helped us uncover our core values.
We’ve had our 10 years of professional career lives, then we’ve risen to the top of the professional photography world for another 10, then the boutique spa hotel & niche restaurant world for the last 10.
We have always been high achievers, loving making dreams come true for our clients. We have seen how our passion comes through, no matter what we do, we do it our way. A second business mentor took us a long way toward identifying our why ( it involved simplifying in order to clarify it… careful what you wish for ! )
So this time, whilst we work, we mustn’t forget to live the dream too ! Let’s see if we can live out our passion & beliefs , and feel the space to enjoy life to the full at the same time.
The simple life
We didn’t want this adventure to be prescribed, so we needed space to put life first. Over a few years, we tried the simple life, living in smaller rented accommodation (to be fair, it was in the sun mostly, so we didn’t need much). Then, we took the plunge and simplified to the max…. seriously ! We gave up almost everything ( our livliehood, our home, and almost all our possessions). We had a vision of leaving with just two suitcases, and we did it ( plus some boxes tucked away in a few attics ! )
We kept the good stuff… family and friends.
When we make a decision, it has come well considered, and we never look back. We’ll talk about our previous adventures at some point, and the contrasts that led to this decision.
Gradually simplifying our business, our home, our purpose, our life has given us the space to make it even bigger and better. We love change, and contrasts, and our journey has evolved, through our own simple and best living practice. We are living part of the year on a houseboat on the canals of Amsterdam, and part working in the shady outdoors on our sunny breezy favourite Canary island. We are the happiest ever !
Can anyone do it ?
We made our change quietly, yet dramatically. As we started to simplify, we became more aware. We could see, with some sadness, how lucky we were to do this, as it wasn’t possible for everyone to leave the way we did. But everyone can make changes.
We strongly believe in Kaizen – little by little, step by step. That’s how we make progress, with bold little baby steps, each and every day. Suddenly it seems to others that we’ve taken a big jump, but it’s so obvious and almost a done deal to us. Once we make a decision, we commit 100% and start again doing the bold little things that take us to where we want to be. Iteratively… our dream life unfolds.
Most people don’t get to, or even allow themselves to do this. But why ? It feels like the world seems too pre-occupied, too busy, doing and achieving, to enjoy living. People don’t seem to have the time to live. Real living seems to be getting lost, somewhere along the way between the authentic and the rat race. Real customer care also seems to have gone out the window.
There’s a lot of nesting and gathering and planning for the future, a lot of nostalgia or regret for the past. There seems to be so much stress and not enough time for people to see life for what it is, and to live it in the best way, today, right now. We’ve fallen foul of that along the way… for sure, but being aware of it helped keep us try to re-balance. It’s always on our mind – balance, and the now !
One of the culprits we feel is that in our developed world we are all spoiled with so many choices available. Far too many ! How on earth do people decide on anything? The answer… is also usually down to very clever marketing and sales. Marketing by the manufacturers, and by the suppliers, and the media, and the information providers so that you buy what they want you to buy, rather than what you actually need.
So. Is the internet just one big pot of misinformation and marketing ? We’ve seen things from all sides now, and you know… the people doing the marketing and sales don’t usually have much time to get their work done, not alone have time to live either ! So most things are rushed, many shortcuts are taken, mistakes are made, and not many have time to stop, and care.
A little about the food and drink we love…
Together, we love eating the simple, the innovative, the top quality, the authentic, the re-invented, the contrasts… and as much healthytarian as we can handle. Experiencing genuine service, honesty, and the best of the best matters most to us.
We’re both very different though in the way we tackle food and cooking ! Aoibheann would be more cooky ( some might say Kooky), is interested mostly in the ingredients and their benefits, loves to experiment with herbs, spices and flavours, and putting a dish together has to be simple and meaningful ! She also loves jumping in and making new discoveries. For Paul, we’d say he’s more cheffy. He likes to impress ! He doesn’t care if it takes 25 precise steps over 3 days to make it – and practice makes perfect. The more complex the dish the better… if it’s going to make it the best in the world.
So, Aoibheann would want to make the perfect egg, simply. Paul however would like to also gold plate it ! Aoibheann likes to match wine with her food, Paul makes a cool cocktail. This week they both made a chocolate dessert… Aoibheann wants it to contain the healthiest ingredients ( avocado, agave syrup, cashew butter, raw cacao) and a simple method to making a mousse ( with a hand blender !)… she tops it off by using up the leftover strawberries – macerates them with something new ! Paul decides on ice-cream, looking first at the richness and complexity… and it has to be the best one ever made. He got the special ingredients, made a custard first to use as the base, then a tried and tested method for the best ice cream ( with our small commercial ice cream maker with freezer built in ).
It’s the contrasts in who we are, as well as having the same core beliefs, that makes us a great team.
How it’s working out for us…
fromcooktochef works well for us as our life revolves around food and cooking anyway. We’re a team now for over 30 years, and we are so different in our approaches to food, cooking and work, so we just naturally settle into our roles on each adventure.
Doing everything nomadically and online brings its own challenges, and as well as finding our natural roles, we try to make sure we get out of our comfort zone too. Who’s the cook and who’s the boss ?
Aoibheann… the over-caring dreamer and doer, can’t stop researching the truths about kitchen tools out there… like a dog with a bone, to get the best information to you. Her new role as the hand blender queen is taking her to the dizzy heights in google searches, so don’t try to hide yours if she visits. She will sniff it out and after examining it closely, will help you use it !
Paul… as well as his natural bent for design, and stylish cooking, he has an amazing talent for keeping the team grounded, and in balance. ” Funny Uncle Paul ” he’s known as in the family! His superb quality control and kaizan approach is still king as he surfs the keyboard. He really is the coffee-maker king, and molecularly ( is that a word ?) talented ! His professional background is computerised finance so for now, online digital marketing analysis is the new toy he won’t let go of !
Our daily activity apart from keyboard work is exercising, meditating, enjoying the elements, and playing…with our food mostly ! Discovering and organising ingredients, making cooking easy, and enjoying the pleasure of eating and drinking. We’re noticing though how easy it is to get out of balance so it’s not perfect !
We have to re-adjust a lot though when we travel abroad… or when health suffers. (We are getting more sensitive as we tune in to our own needs ! ). One thing that never changes is that we are always learning, and cooking more, and trying to live better each and every day.