About the Ballymaloe Cookery School
There are so many things to tell you about Ballymaloe Cookery School it is difficult to know where to start.
We've been running classes here since 1983. We started the school because I was a chef (I had been working in my mother-in-law's world-famous hotel and restaurant - Ballymaloe House) and my husband, Tim, was a farmer and we wanted to run something from home.
This connection between farming and cooking is vital.
Unlike any other cookery school in the world we are located in the middle of a 100-acre, organic farm of which ten acres are devoted to organic market gardens, orchards and greenhouses. This means that our students can learn to cook using the finest and freshest of ingredients. It also means guaranteed quality and variety - for instance, we grow over 40 different types of tomato alone! Plus, of course, it is incredibly peaceful and beautiful.
The fact that we are on a farm has affected the sort of school we are in other ways.
Our state-of-the-art kitchens - indeed, all the school buildings including the dining room, lecture rooms, library and self-catering accommodation - are located in delightful former farm buildings.
Like the best, traditional farms this is a family run business. Our children, their partners, my brother - even my grandchildren all help out. There is a cheerful, friendly, welcoming atmosphere to the school.
We do things in our own way here. One major difference between us and other schools is the sheer volume of things we will teach you - it is by no means unusual to learn how to make 20 recipes in a day. Furthermore, we encourage you to try your hand at cooking as many of them as you want without any restrictions on the amount of ingredients you use.
In our first year we ran fifteen courses. Today, we offer over a hundred options. In over two decades the school has become much more sophisticated but I am happy to say that at heart it remains the same.
The school's philosophy is very simple.
We believe that the finest food comes from the finest ingredients. We teach using the best we can grow, rear or obtain locally. Our farm is organic and we use endeavour to use as much organic produce as we can in the school.
We believe in the sustainable use of resources. We work ceaselessly to avoid waste. We use seasonal produce. We are extremely conscious of 'food miles' (the distance travelled by food between the farmer and the plate) and keep to a minimum the use of imported ingredients. We work hard to make sure that the school is environmentally sensitive as possible.
We believe that good food, good health and good farming practices are an inseparable part of the same process. As Lady Balfour, founder of the Soil Association, remarked: 'health, whether of soil, plant, animal or man, is one and indivisible.'
Finally, we believe that cooking and eating should be enriching, enjoyable, entertaining and, in a word, fun.
Owner of Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Co Cork, Ireland, teacher, food writer, newspaper columnist, cookbook author and television presenter. School is situated on an organically run farm.
Graduate in Hotel Management, Dublin Institute of Technology.
Member of Taste Council of Irish Food Board, Chair of Artisan Food Forum of Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Food Safety Consultative Council of Ireland, Trustee of Irish Organic Centre, Patron of Irish Seedsavers.
Cooking Teacher of the Year Award from IACP 2005, Recipient of Honorary Degree from University of Ulster 2003, Winner of Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year 2001, Waterford Wedgwood Hospitality Award 2000, Langhe Ceretto Prize 1996, Laois Person of the Year 1993
Gilbeys Gold Medal for Catering Excellence jointly with Myrtle Allen 1992 Hon, Fellow of Irish Hotel and Catering Institute.
Member of Eurotoques (European Association of Chefs), IWF (International Womens Federation), Network Ireland, Guild of Foodwriters in UK and Ireland, International SLOW Movement, Bread Bakers Guild of America, IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals - Darina Allen is a Certified Culinary Professional and Teacher and the school is accredited by IACP).
Founder of first Farmers Markets in Ireland and involved on an ongoing basis in helping set up new markets. Darina currently chair of the Midleton Farmers Market.
Councillor for Ireland in Slow Food Movement and President of East Cork Convivium of Slow Food.
Rachel Allen is a professional cook and busy mother. She lives by the sea in Shanagarry not far from the school with her husband Isaac and two young children, Joshua and Lucca and their dog Buddy.
Brought up in Dublin, at the age of eighteen she left to study here at the school. Worked briefly in the kitchens at Ballymaloe House and returned to work at the cookery school where she now teaches regularly alongside Darina.
David Hare a producer of InProduction came to do a Breadmaking course taught by Tim and Rachel and asked if they would be interested in filming a bread making show with him. This Breadmaking programme was the first and then David asked Rachel if she would be interested in making her own show. Rachel has now completed four series with David and InProduction and written four accompanying and best selling cookbooks. Rights to the television shows have been sold internationally and Rachel's books have been translated into several different languages.
Rachel appears regularly on several television programmes including Saturday Kitchen and Market Kitchen. She writes a weekly column for the Sunday Tribune, as well as often contributing to a many of the leading food magazines including BBC Good Food and Delicious Magazine.
Having spent more than twenty years cooking in the world's finest kitchens, Rory O'Connell is uniquely equipped to share his expertise and knowledge with others.
Rory trained at Ballymaloe House with Myrtle Allen, the grand-dame of Irish country house cooking. He then left East Cork for Paris, where he worked as part of the team charged with establishing the French outpost of Ballymaloe, La Ferme Irlandaise.
On his return to Ireland, he began working with the Ryan brothers at the acclaimed Arbutus Lodge in Cork City, where he continued to expand his epicurean repertoire.
The urge to educate not just diners in the delights of great food but to share his skills with others lead him to found the Ballymaloe Cookery School with his sister, Darina Allen. The success of the school was widely publicised leading to Rory being called upon to style cookery books, TV shows and contribute to various international food publications. During this period, Rory worked with Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico, London and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons in Oxford.
His work has not soley been confided to the classroom or kitchen, being asked to act as a food ambassador for Ireland on many occassions. Rory has addressed both the hospitality and tourism industry at home and abroad in countries as diverse as Greece, South Africa, Italy, Denmark and Britain.
In 1994, he returned to Ballymaloe House to begin a ten year tenure as Head Chef of the restaurant, a stay that won him much praise from patrons and peers alike. Including Hilary Rubenstein at The Good Food Guide remarking that Myrtle Allen was the original cook, but Rory O'Connell who wears the torque today is a worthy successor.
An opportunity to work with yet another great saw Rory leaving East Cork for Berkeley, California to join Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, a restaurant with a philosophy based on the strength of ingredients and cooking techniques that Rory both admired and already practised through his continued involvment with Slow Food Ireland.
Today however he can be found teaching at the Ballymaloe Cookery School while consulting for other restaurants throughout the country. His reputation as a food stylist regularly sees him working on photoshoots with other author's, publishers and magazines. Rory's passion for refining not just our palletes but how we prepare and cook food is still his priority. This inspired him to provide a wide range of bespoke cookery classes, catering for all levels and both groups and individuals, at his 18th century farmhouse near Shanagarry, in East Cork.