In Bed with Gráinne Mullins

Think you love chocolate? You couldn’t possibly love it more than the founder and CEO of Grá Chocolates – Gráinne Mullins, a Galway-based pastry chef, Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year winner, a recipe and food writer.

Last year she featured in the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 hotlist, just three years into Grá’s journey. Here, she reveals the secrets of her success, why breakfast in bed is a treat and not a ritual, and what what she really thinks of The Bear.


New year’s resolutions: Yes or No?

Yes. I think it’s a nice way to take stock and set intentions for the year ahead. I think it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve though, and to focus on small, achievable goals, which can be a really helpful way to make positive changes in your life. This year I want to put more time into recipes, and try to make videos of them to post on social media.


What do you love most about being a chocolatier?

I love being a chocolatier because it’s a job that combines my love of creativity with my passion for food. I get to experiment with different flavours and textures, and I always have the satisfaction of seeing my creations come to life. But what I love most of all is the joy I bring to others. When someone takes a bite of my chocolate and smiles, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.


Kitchens are notoriously pressured environments in which only the steeliest survive. To whom do you owe your diligence and cool head?
I’ve always had a strong work ethic, and I think that’s something I inherited from my parents. They always taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance, and I've carried that with me throughout my life. But I also think that my experience in the kitchen has helped me develop a cool head under pressure. I’ve learned to stay calm and focused, even when things are hectic. That’s essential for any chef, but it’s especially important in a high-pressure environment like the kitchen.


You spent two years working in Dan B, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Aix-en-Provence. What did you learn most about yourself there?
In France I really discovered who I was. I had to make a whole new life, and found out what I really loved. I feel like I really grew up and became much more independent. I walked around farmers markets, sunbathed on the beach and ate the most amazing food. I really loved every second of it, especially the sunshine. 


You also worked at Ox in Belfast. What made you decide to set up shop back home in Galway?

I suppose with being home during lockdown I realised how important it was to spend time with friends and family. I had time to reset and rethink and it was only then that the idea for Grá Chocolates came to me. I loved my time working in high-end restaurants – I learned so much, and use my skills that I learned in the kitchen on a daily basis. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I had such an incredible chance to launch Grá Chocolates and I fully embraced it and I’m so glad I did. I believe I truly have the dream job.


You manage a team of 18 staff. How do you balance work and wellness?

As a busy business owner, I understand the challenges of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. At times I find it hard to juggle my responsibilities while trying to prioritise my wellbeing. I’ve a fantastic team and by trusting my team members, and allowing them to contribute their skills, I’ve managed to reduce my workload. This delegation frees up my time to focus on overall business management and helps prevent me from burning out.


I also have the most amazing family and friends, and I absolutely love spending time with them. In my spare time I do try to fill it with moments that make me feel happier – this could be a walk on the beach with my boyfriend or visiting my granny. I do love to cook for people, so dinner parties are a firm favourite for me.

What puts a spring in your step in the mornings?

I wouldnt class myself as a morning person. But getting into work and smelling the room filled with melted chocolate is definitely one of my favourite parts of the day.

What keeps you awake at night?

Thankfully I’m a very good sleeper. Usually once my eyes are closed they will not wake until my alarm goes off. If anything wakes me up, it would be business worries or stresses, but if I do, I try to write them on a list and nod off back to sleep.

If you could go back to when you were making chocolates in your parents’ shed, what advice would you give yourself?

Keep going! The path of starting your own business is filled with challenges and setbacks. Embrace the learning curve, keep practising, and never give up on your dreams. Your passion and dedication will be rewarded (Grá Chocolates continues to grow)!




Has work sent you off to any particularly interesting destinations, meeting farmers, suppliers, etc?

Absolutely. As Grá Chocolates’s founder I’ve had the opportunity to travel to some incredible places. Last year I was listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 and visited Botswana – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, sharing my passion for creating exceptional chocolate. This year I’ll have travel to go see the cocoa farms. Super exciting, an invaluable learning experience.

Chefs and cooks have trended on the small screen recently, what with The Bear, Boiling Point and Julia (Childs, played by Happy Valley’s Sarah Lancashire) doing very well. Do you watch those or are busy fictionalised kitchens the very last thing you’d watch to unwind?

I watched The Bear over Christmas and I absolutely loved it. I’m often so impressed by the tiny details that the filming team acknowledged and that’s what makes these programmes so realistic.


Bake-off or MasterChef?

MasterChef, but I’ll happily watch either.

If you were on I’m a Celebrity, which one herb, spice or condiment would you smuggle into the jungle and why?

Salt! Salt is the ultimate flavour enhancer.

When/where was the last time you had breakfast in bed and what was it?

I spent a night at Glenlo Abbey recently and decided to get breakfast in bed. I went for a hot honey and lemon as I was feeling a little under the weather. I also got pancakes and a bowl of fresh fruit. It was really enjoyable but I tend not to have breakfast in bed at home as I hate crumbs in the bed.


Favourite brunch dish and why?

I absolutely love Turkish Eggs. Such a simple dish to create at home. They’re a healthy option but also packed with flavour from the yoghurt, spiced butter and toast.

Who would be your top three celebrity pyjama party guests and what would your playlist include?

I’d love to have a pyjama party with Beyoncé, Nigella Lawson and I think adding in my Granny to the mix would lead to a very eventful and insightful pyjama party. I’d let everyone take turns to add songs to the playlist, for an eclectic mix of tunes.

Non-pervy outro: What will you be wearing when you slip between the sheets later?

I have the most beautiful pair of Moon & Mellow PJs. I sleep so well in 100pc cotton pyjamas. The Flora Pink pair I have are just the cutest.

Flora Pink Set