We are big believers in
one life | many adventures
We have had the big corporate careers, then moved to become award winning photographers, then built and opened our boutique hotel and restaurant in Marrakech.We’ve been the demanding customer, and also the luxury hospitality provider – so we’ve seen the foodie world from both sides.
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 35 years, and are often reminded that life is short. Currently, we are living nomadically on a houseboat in Amsterdam for part of the year, and on a Spanish island (or 2 ) for the rest.
If we just had one more adventure, what would it be
First we decided it would be ´to be free´. So we stopped what we were doing, to make space, and see what happened. If we were to experience things differently, we had to do it differently. So we stopped having our roots set in stuff, in piles of concrete or bricks ( even though they were such beautiful castles ! ), and stopped having a family of staff to look after on a daily basis ( we do miss connecting with people though ).
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.
Our previous adventure – maison mk
High-end customer service has always been at the heart of everything we do… and we always like to go further than the rest. In our last adventure, 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. And this ethos stays with us.
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 !
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 still haven’t left Marrakech completely but after 10 years, we stopped the daily operations whilst at the top… to make space, and room to begin one more life adventure. We 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 adventure – live more
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 and regret for the past. So much stress, and not enough time for people to see life for what it is, and to live it in their best way, today, right now. We’ve fallen foul of that along the way… for sure, but being aware of it helps keep us trying 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 choices. How on earth do people decide on anything ? Our cluttered world is also usually down to very clever marketing and sales causing us to buy things we don’t need. Marketing by the manufacturers, and by the suppliers, and the media, and the information providers are aimed at you buying what they want you to buy, rather than what you actually need to buy.
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.
This is where we want to put our pennies worth in, and feed you information from our own real journey with food and cooking.
Our journey with food …
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 allows us, as a team, to keep learning from each other, now, every single day.