Like the proverbial duck to water, Kiera learnt the hospitality trade initially through her family’s long established bar and restaurant business.
And she is continuing the legacy of promoting local food with the recent opening of her new eaterie – formerly Café Soul – which is located in one of the city centre’s prime locations at Shipquay Place fronting onto Guildhall Square.
Her grandparents Liam and Patricia Doherty were the well-known owners of the Delacroix Inn – affectionately known locally as ‘The Del’ – at Buncrana Road, but Liam died suddenly aged just 52 in the early 1990s after taking ill on the golf course.
Kiera lived in South Africa from the age of four to 14 after her parents Kieran and Linda Doherty moved there with their young family through her father’s work as an engineer based in the Transvaal Province and Mossel Bay, near Cape Town.
“I was the eldest grandchild and when we came back from South Africa I started working part-time in the Delacroix helping my granny out after granda died,” recalled Kiera, who has a wealth of experience working in both the retail and hospitality sectors.
The mum-of-three left her job with a UK-based global fashion retailer in Derry to manage her parents’ pub, The Drunken Duck, in Greencastle, Co Donegal, which sadly closed five years ago when the recession dealt a crushing blow to businesses across the country.
After taking some time out to have her third child, Kiera worked as assistant manager at award-winning local restaurant, The Sooty Olive, at Spencer Road for three years and its offshoot, The Green Octopus Café in Austin’s of the Diamond, until the city’s best known department store closed unexpectedly earlier this year.
Kiera subsequently managed the popular Café Soul for four months while looking for new premises to start her own business and was delighted when the opportunity came up at the end of August to acquire the Shipquay Place outlet, known for its relaxed and casual vibe.
“I was just waiting for the right premises and when this one became available I jumped in with both feet,” said Kiera who changed the name to The Pickled Duck Café on the Square, a few weeks ago in a nod to The Drunken Duck which was so popular withcustomers in Greencastle.
The chefs at The Pickled Duck include Aaron Whelpdale, formerly second chef at The Sooty Olive and Head Chef at The Green Octopus, and David Austin, formerly of The Red Door Country House in Fahan, Co Donegal. Kiera says she’s delighted at the feedback from customers as the café develops its new identity “as well as keeping the same great vibe” as before.
In keeping with the city’s successful ‘LegenDerry and Local’ food offer, The Pickled Duck is actively promoting local produce across both its breakfast and lunch menus.
Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil and Jordans Sea Salt (various flavours of which are also available to purchase in the café) feature in many of the delicious dishes, while Maiden City Butchers, Donegal Prime Fish, and Funky Cakes are among other long established local suppliers.
The Breakfast Menu caters for both meat-lovers and vegetarians with the Veggie Fry proving a big hit with both local and visiting foodies.
Customers to Ireland’s second top Foodie Destination can also dine on such exotic culinary delights as Columbian Eggs – Cumin Spiced Scrambled Eggs with Spinach, Chorizo, Avocado and Broighter Gold Chilli Rapeseed Oil on Toast. One of the wholesome lunchtime Salad Bowls features Goats Cheese, Pickled Beetroot, Apple and Dukkah (an Egyptian seed, nut and spice dip).
The Lunch Menu also strongly reflects the local theme including Derry Stew with Wheaten Bread and Home-made Brown Ding (sauce), and Seafood Chowder featuring Jordans Peat Smoked Sea Salt and Broighter Gold Lemon Rapeseed Oil.
Asian influences also feature in its Panko (flaky bread crumb used in Japanese cuisine as a crunchy coating for fried foods) Fish Cakes.
Mary Blake, Tourism Development Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said she was delighted that The Pickled Duck was up and running and championing local food provenance across its menu messaging during Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016.
She added: “Kiera and her team at The Pickled Duck have a wealth of experience in the restaurant business and the new café is another excellent addition to our food offer in the city centre.
“This month we reflect on the Year of Food and Drink and how special our local produce is.
“This wonderful year-long celebration of our food culture is a chance to instil an ever-growing love for food and the culinary arts in people of all ages and we are continually seeing this with our high quality food offer in Derry and district.”
Kiera Duddy said: “I can’t believe just how many tourists come to Derry; we are in such a tourist spot here and they love our Derry Stew.
“We also get quite a few people crossing the Peace Bridge to the city centre and they enjoy great views across Guildhall Square, especially when anything is on such as our vibrant food markets and festivals.”
She continued: “The tourists can’t believe the quality and standard of the food for the price you pay.
“Derry has definitely come on leaps and bounds as a foodie destination; a lot of that is down to Mary Blake, who does such a great job getting our names out there and has brought everyone together with the shared vision that local is the way to go”.
With other recently launched food and drink businesses also operating within a close radius around Guildhall Square and Foyle Street including Warehouse No 1, Guildhall Tap House, Pyke ‘N’ Pommes at Blackbird and, Entrada (formerly Custom House), Kiera said she hopes everyone will benefit from supporting each other.
“We love our location and we have a great team; we are keeping it small but offering good quality, healthy, local food.
“By keeping it local we are giving back as well,”said the Derry businesswoman who is proud to be following in her grandmother’s footsteps.
“She was always a good, strong woman who knew the market and was able to put her stamp on it.
“I have kept her informed all the way and she is delighted,” added Kiera who also has the support of her own family, husband Chris Duddy and their three children Liam (12), Caoimhin (9) and Enya (5).
For more information on Derry City and Strabane District Council’s events during Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016, visit www.derrystrabane.com/food