Lara McCormack did the Ballymaloe Cookery School 12 Week Certificate Course in September 2009. Lara explains her reasons for doing the course
"I had many reasons for wanting to attend Ballymaloe. I worked for Books to Cooks in Vancouver with chef Adrienne O'Callaghan. She attended Ballymaloe and encouraged me to go. When my family moved to Fairmont Hot Springs, my husband and I got into doing private cooking classes. Adrian is classically trained at Cambridge University and I have a BBA in marketing and management with no formal cooking training short of brief stints in restaurants as I was employed in front-of house management. Adrian was encouraging me to go back to school and at this time we had two young children, a mortgage, jobs...I really had no idea how it would all work out. We ended up getting a nanny, my grandfather passed away leaving me exactly the money I needed for the school and my job gave me the ok to take some time off. The path was laid for me and I took the leap. To this day I tell people that it was the best thing I ever did for myself. It was hard to leave the kids and husband, and I was 35 at the time but looking back, it was some of the best moments of my life. Now I am running my own successful business with confidence built up in me from my time at Ballymaloe.
When I returned from Ballymaloe I had to deal with a back issue that unfortunately plagued me while I was there due to an injury I had earlier that year at work. After many tests, it turned out I had broken bones in my back and needed surgery. It was a pretty scary moment as I did not know what would become of me. All I knew is the pain had to stop. Long story short, I had the surgery and have been called a mircle by my neurosurgeon. I was up and running after 3 months of rehab then not feeling great one day, found out that I was pregnant...whoops! Anna was not planned but has turned out to be a link our family needed. It pushed me to work on a business plan and plan for our future. In April 2012 we opened From Scratch - A Mountain Kitchen in our little town that is famous for golfing, hot springs and skiing. Knowing that the business is seasonal, we developed a plan to also create a food line. Currently our operation is 30 seats (50 seats in the summer with the patio) where we cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also do outside catering, cooking classes, farmer's markets and set up food for local festivals. We were fortunate enough to create our haven with another couple who are dedicated foodies with a strong business background. There is no way we could be doing what we do without this partnership. We are on the verge of launching our product line starting with 11 products ranging from BBQ sauce to salad dressing to spice blends and jams. Our most popular product is our bacon jam called Oink! Moving forward we will be concentrating on this product launch, have a busy summer with many weddings to cater and try to keep up with the demand on the bistro during the summer months.
The one thing that stands out for me that the Cookery Course offered is the business planning. We had 4 days of discussion & case study that is most important when it comes to running a business. Its not easy in this line of work as there are long hours involved in this business. To run a successful business, one needs to be well rounded. We are lucky to have 4 people in our business with different strengths that bring it all together - kitchen operations, marketing, accounting/finance and sales/maintenance."
"From Scratch - A Mountain Kitchen" is a market bistro that seats 30 indoors, with a patio that seats another 20. It also has a grab-and-go section. Summer is their high season and their current retail line will keeps them busy enough to survive the winter and spring. The primary retail items that they sell are made in-house and include prepared meals, condiments and baked goods. Alongside their Bacon Jam called Oink, you will find items such as Plum & Champagne Chutney, Cranberry Vodka Sauce, Banana Jam, and Blueberry Lemon Jam. There is an open-kitchen concept so the staff can interact with the customers. Their philosophy is that everything is better when it’s made from scratch, with great ingredients. They believe in low food miles supporting a local food network by creating positive relations with local farmers and growers. Their ingredients are season being sources through British Columbia and Alberta. They also do outside catering and cooking classes and are overseeing the hot lunch program at Windermere Elementary School, nearby. Since opening for business in 2012, From Scratch, a Mountain Kitchen, has settled solidly into the lead position among Columbia Valley restaurants. It won the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Best Food and Beverage in 2013, and has twice topped the list of restaurant favourites among readers of Kootenay Business magazine.