Ballymaloe Cookery School: Week 3

By Monday, May 19, 2014

It's very scary to think that three out of my twelve weeks here at Ballymaloe have already gone by! I feel like I have finally got into the swing of this way of life, but every day is still pretty different. I really love that we are constantly encouraged to push ourselves and try out new things. Monday to Thursday this week was spent doing cookery in the morning and then demonstrations in the afternoon, then Friday we had a pretty intensive food business course, learning how to start up and maintain a food business. 



We had the lovely Diana Kennedy visit the school ahead of the Ballymaloe Literary Festival. She joked about how she has been described as 'the Mick Jagger of the culinary world'. She has such a sparky, fun personality, and it was a real honour to be in the same room as such an influential chef. 


I was also lucky enough to be called up in one of the demonstrations to help out Rachel Allen! My job was to stir the caramalised onions as they cooked...probably one of my proudest moments to date, as I am a huge fan of Rachel and all of her work!


We have cooked a real variety of dishes this week. My particular favourites were the slow roasted lamb shoulder, raspberry almond tartlets and lemon meringue pie. We are encouraged to make at least one loaf everyday, so this bread overload is definitely helping to improve my bread making skills! 








This weekend was the Ballymaloe Literary Festival - a two day event where a huge selection of influential chefs, wine experts, authors, bloggers, gardeners and TV presenters came to Ballymaloe to give talks and demonstrations. 



One of the Ballymaloe House barn's was transformed into 'The Big Shed'. This space was filled with a selection of food stalls, selling local food produce such as organic Irish cider, baked goods, goat burgers, savoury crepes, delicious coffee and fresh smoothie's. My mum's favourite stall was Cloud that sold handmade marshmallows! 




As you can see, this little guy was having a great time in the Big Shed! 


One of the most popular events over the weekend was the talk between Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi, Ariana Bundy and Tom Parker Bowles titled 'The Food of the Middle East'. It was really amazing to hear the three chef's speak so passionately about their home cuisines. 


Another talk I really enjoyed was one by Rachel Allen, Simon Hopkinson, Nessa Robins and Donal Skehan discussing food photography. I loved hearing their perspective on what makes a really good food photograph. It was particularly refreshing to hear how they thought it was totally possible to get a fantastic food shot with a device like an iPhone!


What was so great about the whole weekend is that the chefs were all so approachable. You were able to walk up to them after their talks and have a proper conversation. I took the opportunity to meet Simon Hopkinson, a real food hero!


However, the highlight of my whole weekend has got to be working with the amazing David Tanis. I was given the opportunity to work on Saturday for a few hours in one of the school's kitchens prepping for his dinner later that evening. Jeremy Lee also joined us to help with prep, so it really was a once in a lifetime experience! I was amazed at how approachable, friendly and kind they both were. Their knowledge and passion for food really shone through, with David having chosen just the most amazing menu that was so carefully thought through and had the most exquisite ingredients, such as golden beetroot and delicious homemade biscotti! This is absolutely an experience that will stay with me for life!

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