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EXPATRIATES IN MAURITIUS
» 30 Jan 2015
KATRINA MCILRAITH THE LADY BEHIND WALNUT & THYME

KATRINA, WHERE DO YOU HAIL FROM?
I was born in the United Kingdom and raised in South Africa. Fifteen years ago I relocated to Mauritius.

HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN COOKING?
As a child raised in the 60’s and 70’s we were safe to indulge and follow our dreams. I was blessed to have both a mother and grandmother who had skills in the kitchen and this was where the seed of producing food was born. Old time family recipes and real honest produce was what I was raised  on and what I learned to love. My father encouraged my love of cooking and baking and supplied me with both cookery books and dinner party budgets.

HAVE YOU BEEN COOKING AS A CAREER YOUR WHOLE LIFE?
No I haven’t. I studied dramatic art and although spending just over a year catering, I went into clothing design when I had a young family as it is impossible to dedicate oneself to both raising a family and running a restaurant. I continued cooking dinner par-ties etc and if anything my love of creating meals grew stronger.  One afternoon 5 years ago, when working on ideas for a new business, my accountant blatantly told me that as far as he was concerned the only thing worth investing my funds, time and energy into was creating food.
This was the defining moment that made me decide to follow my lifelong passion. In October 2011, Walnut & Thyme opened in Cascavelle Shopping Village.

TELL US MORE ABOUT WALNUT & THYME
Walnut & Thyme is a combination of restaurant and gourmet food store. The restaurant serves primarily Mediterranean style food although we do grills etc but in our climate there is
nothing better than a fresh sandwhich or salad our salads are wonderful plates of food and are very popular. Our guests tend to be regulars (whether tourists or locals). I spend endless hours most weeks researching the best bottled produce from all corners of the world and my shelves are stocked with over 1000 top quality, delicious products (most are exclusive to Walnut & Thyme but even those that are not are not usually available elsewhere… gourmet in a jar! Our kitchen also stocks our fridges and freezers with pasta sauces, steak sauces, single serve quiches, sausage rolls, lasagna, smoked salmon, prawns, a wide range of cupcakes….. the list is long.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT?
I think it would be fair to say that I have 3 major passions. My family is my number one passion and I have been blessed with two superb human beings as my children. My business and all it stands for would rank second and third is Restaurant crawling in New York City.
GIVE US A GLIMPSE AT AN AVERAGE DAY IN YOUR BUSY LIFE:
My day begins and ends with Walnut & Thyme. Researching and designing food, finding products and some paperwork fill my time before and after opening hours. My life in the store is a mix of working in the kitchen (I rarely cook plates any more but I test food going out to our guests as quality is everything). Many hours are spent talking with clients and restaurant guests…I try to take orders and serve tables when I can and managing my staff. Designing new menus and weekly specials also takes up a lot of my time.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT LIVING HERE?
I think the list of what I don’t love about living in Mauritius would be much shorter to answer than this question, however…the people, the colours, the bright sunlight, the myriad of smells as well as the daily challenges that living in Mauritius exposes one to, ensure that feeling alive is a constant! I love the opportunity and challenge of creating something that stands out in Mauritius. I am truly thankful that not a day goes by that I become aware at some time on my drive to and from work how very beautiful this island is. Mauritians are such warm, wonderful people.
DO YOU HAVE ANY CLOSING COMMENTS FOR OUR READERS?
I am living proof that “Willpower, persistence, patience and work bring your desires into manifestation” and I am truly grateful to be able to have a second life. Raising my family was as im portant to me as following my passion. I’m now following my passion.  Grab as many opportunities that you can manage because unless you try something you will continue to be in the dark even if it does not feel like you are

 

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