Thinking of Making a New Career in Food?
If you are thinking about making a new career for yourself in food, the farm-based Ballymaloe Cookery School in Co. Cork, Ireland, is a serious option for you.
Darina Allen is the founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School and in this episode of the show she describes what it’s like to do the intensive 12-week certificate course her school offers.
As well as being a teacher, Darina is also an author, TV chef, sustainable, seasonal and slow food proponent and is a pioneer of the farmers’ market movement in Ireland.
Darina Allen is also a thought-leader who doesn’t pull any punches when the ethics of food production are on the agenda. That, along with her other culinary accomplishments, make Darina Allen one of the most important female voices in the world of real food right now.
What You’ll Hear About in this Episode
In this episode of the show, Darina Allen:
- Describes the background to the inception of the cookery school.
- Describes how the produce from the 100-acre organic farm on which the school is based shapes the school’s curriculum.
- Explains the importance of developing your own network of food and drink suppliers.
- Describes a typical day in the life of a 12-week certificate course student.
- Defines key traits she looks for in students applying to do the course.
- Outlines some of the food careers past pupils have forged.
Click on the Player Below to Listen to the Show
Get the Show Transcript
If audio isn’t your thing, you can download a transcript of the show here: Ep #026. Darina Allen. Carve Out Your Career in Food: The Ballymaloe Cookery School.
You can also find the full transcript of the show at the end of this post.
Very Sound Bites from Darina Allen
Don’t Miss New Episode of the Artisan Food & Drink Business Show
Links Mentioned in the Show
Smorgasburg, described as the “Woodstock of Eating”, by The New York Times
Origin Green: The Irish Government’s Food and Drink Sustainability Initiative
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Transcript of the Show
Catherine Moran: Hello, and welcome to episode 26 of The Artisan Food & Drink Business Show, the show where artisan producers tell their brand story and share the secrets of their success. I’m your host, Catherine Moran.
This episode features Darina Allen, an internationally renowned culinary author, speaker, TV chef and founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, which is based on an organic farm in Co. Cork, in the deep south of Ireland. That farm situation, by the way, is one of the school’s unique selling propositions.
I was going to borrow Darina’s words and call this episode ‘The Ballymaloe Gastro Boot Camp’ but I decided against it because, without context, you might have interpreted this description as meaning ‘harsh discipline’ rather than ‘intensive and rigorous’. And, as you’ll hear on the show, it is the ‘intensive and rigorous’ meaning that’s in operation in the Ballymaloe Cookery School’s 12-week certificate course, the subject of today’s show.
Darina gives great detail about what students learn on the 12-week certificate course and the variety of often-unconventional ways that graduates carve out a new career in food once they have the certificate in their fist.
Although the Ballymaloe Cookery School is, necessarily, a commercial enterprise, profit isn’t the only factor at play here. As important is Darina Allen’s deep convictions about the ethics and politics of food production, food consumption and cooking: namely, about good animal husbandry, about respect for the soil, about cooking with the seasons and about avoiding food waste. Surely, this holistic approach is the best possible way you could learn how to become a culinary professional. Here, now, is my conversation with Darina Allen.
Darina Allen, founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, TV chef and author of many culinary books and one of the people at the forefront of the farmers’ market movement in Ireland. Welcome to the Artisan Food & Drink Business Show.
Darina Allen: Thank you.
Catherine Moran: It’s wonderful to have you here, Darina. The focus on our conversation today is the Ballymaloe Cookery school, specifically the 12-week certificate course, but I’ve read that you have one word to describe yourself, and that’s ‘teacher’. Perhaps it’s no surprise that you founded a cookery school, because it combines two of your passions: cooking and teaching. Would you give just a very quick overview of how you came to set up the cookery school?
Darina Allen: Well, the Ballymaloe Cookery School was started in 1983, actually. So it’s operating 31 years, going into the 32nd year now. It was started, really, as an alternative farming enterprise. We were in farming, and particularly in horticulture, we had several acres of greenhouses, five acres of greenhouses actually, and a mushroom farm and extensive apple orchards, as well.
That was our main business, but then in the late 60’s, early 70’s, I suppose, labour costs started to rise. There was 25% inflation and there was the oil crisis, and we were using five acres of greenhouses with oil and it needed a big investment of money, which we as a young married couple didn’t have.
Anyway, we had to look … We could see the writing was on the wall for farming and indeed for horticulture, sadly, because the whole cheap food policy had kicked in and every time we took our lovely produce up to the wholesalers and into Cork we seemed to be getting less and less for it.
It was obvious that we needed to have a look at what talents we had between us, and what resources we had, and think about earning a living in a different way, and that’s exactly the sort of decisions many people have had to make in the last 10 years as well.
We decided that we would instead start a cooking school here on the farm. It’s a 100-acre organic farm and we have quite extensive gardens. Plus we, of course, still have an acre of greenhouses. We seemed to have the perfect spot to start a cookery school. We have some farm buildings, which we converted into both accommodation for students and also into the initial cooking school where we started off with just 11 students, I think.
Now we take 60 students and they come literally from all over the world. But we don’t plan to get bigger, actually. We just plan to stay at this size, but of course, as I said, students come from all over the world because they can get… it’s difficult for them to find what is now called — that much hackneyed phrase — ‘the farm-to-fork’ experience. Which is not something new for us. It’s the way we are, basically.
Anyway, that’s a long-winded answer to your question, but we started the cooking school and, well, it’s just gone on from there.
Catherine Moran: So your 100-acre organic farm, it skirts by the coast doesn’t it? You’ve got that sea connection as well, which is lovely.
Darina Allen: Yeah. The school is not only in the centre of the farm and gardens but also it’s very close to the sea here. Our little fishing port at Ballycotton is just two miles away. We get a lot of our lovely fresh fish from there. A lot of the food we serve here at the school, and indeed for the family and all of that, is actually grown on the farm. What we don’t produce ourselves we find it possible to source locally. Of course, we buy spices and citrus and all sorts of things like that.
Basically, we quite often sit down, particularly at this time of the year, we quite often sit down to a plate of food where everything on the plate comes from the farm and gardens. All the vegetables and herbs, of course, and indeed, some of the meat as well.
Then, we have our own butter, our own milk, our own yoghurt, buttermilk, cheese, etc, because we have a small herd of Jersey cows, so we make… The students literally learn how to make home-made butter every day and all of that is part of the course.
We’re in a very fortunate position from the point of view of ingredients, and we’ve built up over the years a network of, I suppose, about 150 or more small producers who — around us here — who rear us free-range chickens and ducks, and geese.
Somebody brought in some pheasant yesterday. We have people who forage for us as well both on the seashore and we do a little foraging ourselves, both teachers and students. Yesterday, actually, this lovely woman called Mary from County Limerick brought us six chips of the autumn chanterelles — ‘yellow legs’ as we call them.
Some people then, some of our producers, we might only see a couple of times a year. Like another gentleman who has lots of gooseberries and he brings his surplus to us. So, the students can actually meet a lot of the people who produce the food that they’re cooking with. I very much encourage them, when they leave here and start their own restaurants and so on, to start to develop a network and links with local farmers and food producers so they can know exactly where the food comes from, how it’s produced, all of that sort of thing.
Catherine Moran: Sure. Your ethos there at the school and I suppose Ballymaloe as a whole, is very much about seasonality, local, ethical, animal…
Darina Allen: Totally. Yeah.
Catherine Moran: …Yes, husbandry.
Darina Allen: As I said earlier, this is not a question of… I know this sort of thinking and philosophy is very trendy to a great extent now, and wonderful as it is, but for us it’s not exactly a conversion on the road to Damascus. It’s how we always were. When Ballymaloe was opened as a country house hotel and restaurant by my father-in-law and mother-in-law, Ivan and Myrtle Allen, in the early 1960s, the menu was written every day depending on what was in season, what was in the garden, what came over from the greenhouses, what fish came in from the boats in Ballycotton.
That’s the same; the menu is still written every day now. That’s our whole ethos, philosophy, whatever you might call it. That’s just the way it is. That’s the way we are, it’s the way we think and now, of course, many restaurants and hotels happily, are beginning… are thinking in that way and buying locally and forming good relationships and friendships with the local farmers and food producers.
Catherine Moran: Sure. It’s all about that network. Let’s talk about the courses offered, then. What courses do you offer at the school?
Darina Allen: Basically, we operate the whole year round and actually did from the very first day. We operate the whole year round. We do both what we call long courses and short courses. Basically, we offer three three-month certificate courses in the year. They’re courses for people who want to learn the skills to earn a living from their cooking and they’re very full on. It’s like a gastro boot camp.
Catherine Moran: Yes, I’ve heard of that, yes.
Darina Allen: I mean, students literally, officially they start at 8:30, but a lot of those students would be outside the door of the school at 7:30 in the morning. Literally, so anxious to come in and get going, and so on. Because we’re in the middle of a farm of course, on a rota basis, they go out with the gardeners, the farm manager in the morning to bring in the vegetables and the fruits and learn how to harvest things at their peak and learn how things grow, and all of that. They’re absolutely immersed … Anyway, that’s the three-month course.
Literally, during the recession, people were using redundancy money or actually borrowing money to do the course because they knew that they were guaranteed to get a job easily at the end of the course, in all kinds of areas of food or food production and restaurant kitchens, catering, etc. A lot of them eventually, I don’t know, 26 or 27 of our students have written cookbooks at this stage. Quite a few of them do television. There are all kinds of opportunities when you can cook.
Then apart from that, we do lots of days, weekends, week courses and also, if people are in the area, they can come in and join us for an afternoon cookery demonstration in the afternoon. We do bespoke courses for groups of people who might like to do something together or even individual, one-to-one courses for people who just… we might get lots of CEOs from companies and some people would like to be able to cook and… too busy, so they’d say, ‘Look, can you do a wish list of things I’d like to learn’? And they say, ‘I can come for a couple of hours on Saturday, or something. Can we do this, this and this?’ Then, they come back after a few weeks and do a few more. Anything like that.
Then we also do a whole series of what we call, Forgotten Skills Courses. And they’re for — we’re doing these now for about 10 or more years, 12 years — and these are things like how to cure a pig in a day, because we have our own saddleback pigs here. So, literally, how to do everything from the nose to the tail: make sausage or salami, pickle, cure, do all kinds of exciting things, and preserving and charcuterie. We do how to make butter, cheese and yoghurts, of course, several times a year. We do foraging courses. We do how to build a smoke house to smoke your own food.
Anything like that that the people might like to come to do, we do it. We keep adding to that. We do about 60 or more short courses in the year on all kinds of different topics.
We just have a short break at Christmas, Easter and in the summer, but at this stage, on a 100-acre organic farm, we employ minimum 55 people and it goes up to 65 or more in the summer when we have extra help in the gardens. That could be a bit of a record. We have one teacher with every six students so that’s a very high teacher:student ratio.
Catherine Moran: Yeah, six to one.
Darina Allen: I haven’t heard of higher. A lot of the other cooking schools have one to 10 or one to 12, sometimes one to 20. But our thing is so full on we simply couldn’t do what we do if we didn’t have that teacher:pupil ratio.
Catherine Moran: Sure. Yeah. With the three-month course, that’s described on your website as the 12-week certificate course?
Darina Allen: That’s right, yes. There are exams and everything at the end of it and the hygiene exams, and all of that. Food hygiene… you have to have a food hygiene certification and a HACCP [hazard analysis and critical control points; a food safety system] certificate now before you can work in restaurant kitchens. All of that is included. Yep.
Catherine Moran: You go through HACCP as well with that?
Darina Allen: Yeah.
Catherine Moran: How is the week structured? Is it a five-day week or…
Darina Allen: Basically, it’s a five-day week generally, except, actually, last Saturday, there was a course there on gluten-free cooking in the afternoon as well. It’s usually a five-day week.
It’s a slightly back to front, because in the afternoon we have a cooking demonstration. At the end of the cooking demonstration the students taste what’s being cooked so they have an idea what it’s going to taste like the following day. Then, the following morning they go into the kitchen and they work in pairs, actually, but separately, two people working a section, and one person might do those starters and pudding and the other does the main course and vegetables.
Everything is done from scratch… all the breads. I mean, we don’t buy chicken fillets or that sort of thing. We buy whole organic chickens and they joint … Any time we’re doing chicken the students learn how to joint the chicken. We had lots of game in yesterday so they literally… with the game, they learn how to pluck and how to eviscerate and how to prepare it and everything. They literally do everything from that — now much hackneyed phrase — ‘from scratch’. Fillet the fish etc.
Today, for example, they’re cooking crabs and of course, they start with whole crabs. We don’t buy crab claws, and they learn how to take the crab meat out of the crabs.
Catherine Moran: Wonderful. Some of the subjects covered on the course are things like menu planning and food costing, working as a team and of course, dealing with the pressure of a commercial kitchen, which should be a wake-up call…
Darina Allen: Exactly, yeah. Then they also, by the way, have the opportunity while they’re here, to go in to the Ballymaloe kitchen. Ballymaloe very kindly let us send over one student every night. Then also, we have another connection with some other local restaurants and they can do that at the weekend.
So there’s an excellent opportunity to go into restaurant kitchens as well and see what it’s like in real life. But Ballymaloe kitchen is a lovely kitchen to work in and there’s no throwing of pots or anything like that!
Actually, they can’t believe it… a lot of them would’ve seen some of the hijinks on television. I don’t know whether they’re disappointed or not to discover that everybody is so nice to each other.
Catherine Moran: They come out intact. Yeah. What about ‘order of work’. That’s another subject for the whole…
Darina Allen: Basically, that’s a really important thing. They do that every day when they decide what they’re going to cook from the menu. They then do out a time plan and an order work… In other words, this is to train, and this is brilliant, to train them so that you have all of the dishes ready at the right time rather than starting something late that needs… and then it won’t be ready on time for lunch or for dinner. That helps them to get things in an order and to work out, about approximately how long it’s good to take them to do something. That’s a really important thing.
Catherine Moran: It’s having a system in place…
Darina Allen: Yeah, exactly. In fact, if I’m doing a demonstration, I work to an order in work. Yeah.
Catherine Moran: Sure. Yeah. You mentioned the international presence of students, or the countries that students come from.
Darina Allen: Oh yeah. I mean, they literally, I think when I was doing my 30 years of Ballymaloe cookbook, that was one of the books I did. Basically, at that stage, we had students from 56 different countries at that point. We have, and by the way, we have no PR company. It’s literally word of mouth, and of course, lots of people read the blogs and it’s on the website, and they look at the website… On this course, there are 9 nationalities, which may sound like a lot, but on the last course, the last 12-week course, there were 60 nationalities including our first Vietnamese student, second Korean.
Obviously, we get people from Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada and all the European countries, and so on. That’s fun. It’s makes our little… We live right out in the country here, so it makes our little village of Shanagarry very cosmopolitan during the year, particularly in the winter.
Also, it significantly helps the local economy as well, because a lot of the students obviously spend money in the local shops and local pubs and all of that as well. Plus, we have little romances and all of that, but very nice. Yeah.
Catherine Moran: Yes, very good. You mentioned earlier some of the careers that students go on to take up and I was wondering, what students’ aspirations are when they’re coming, they’re starting off…
Darina Allen: Well, the funny thing, we get students of all ages, all nationalities and a huge variety of backgrounds. We would have students on the course, we don’t take students much younger than 18, and even that’s a bit young, just say 18, 19 to 60, 60-something, sometimes. We’d have people starting off. You might have some gap-year students who want to learn how to cook before they go on to university and do a degree. Then, some of them never ever go to do the degree, actually. They get hooked on cooking.
But anyway, then there are others. People who maybe are changing careers. Then we might get some chefs who, people who’ve been working in restaurant kitchens but find that they have huge gaps in their knowledge and they would like to come back to fill up those gaps. They’re brilliant at some things, but they’ve never filleted a fish. They’ve never made some puff pastry. They might never have even jointed a chicken. Those sorts of skills that now, a lot of people have lost because so much of the food people buy is already prepared.
This has inadvertently helped to de-skill us and leave us at the mercy of the people who provide all the convenient food if we can’t do it ourselves. So that’s another group. There are people who’ve already worked in a restaurant kitchen, or catering business, then as I said, some people change their career. Some people might be in their career, loving their career, but really sort of saying, ‘Well if I want to take three months off to learn how to cook, and then I’ll just go back to what I’m doing but want to be able to cook’ because it’s a basic life skill.
It’s a wonderful social skill to be able to whip up a little spontaneous meal and have your friends around. Sometimes we have older people who’ve waited until they’re retired to decide to do this. I remember we had an American university professor from New York a couple of courses back. She was in her late 70’s. Absolutely wanted to do the course. We did everything to try to dissuade her because this is such a full-on course, it’s even tough for the 20-year-olds. She was having none of it. She insisted on coming. She was amazing. She just had a terrific stamina.
This is really nice too, to have a mixture of young people and older people, because the young people, then, need to be considerate of the older people. The older people need… it helps them to remember what it was like to be young and daft, and all of that and have fun. It’s very good, and there are wonderful friendships made.
Actually, it’s interesting nowadays, sometimes older people spend all their time with older people and they don’t spend much time with younger people and vice versa. And so this is a wonderful intermingling of people of all ages and incredible diversity of backgrounds and experiences.
With 60 people they have a… it takes quite a number of weeks for people to get to know each other and there are wonderful bonds of friendship made. As I said, we’ve even had some romances, which have led to weddings afterwards. That’s all very nice.
Catherine Moran: Yeah. It sounds like a life-changing experience for a lot of people.
Darina Allen: Well, funny, they’re words that are regularly used. People will say, ‘It’s been a life-changing experience’. And I think it is, because it’s not just… I mean, they work so hard, you just can’t imagine. It’s quite an investment for a lot of people. This is a private school. We don’t get any grants, so people have to pay real money, so to speak. They are really making investments when they come here. We take our responsibility very seriously to give them value for money.
Catherine Moran: Yeah. Actually, I was going to say, I was reading… I was fascinated to read the story of one of your students who opened up her own cookery school in Berlin. And I thought that was lovely. So, the investment obviously paid off for her and she’s now…
Darina Allen: Indeed. Yeah.
Catherine Moran: There are a lot of stories from students.
Darina Allen: Yeah, there are lots of stories like that. In fact, there was one stage in Ireland there before 2008, we had I think 40-something cooking schools and over half of them were past students of here. So I had actually created my own opposition, which was terrific because then, it just means you have to keep on raising the bar all the time, which is fantastic.
For me, that’s terrific to see them teaching other people how to cook. Really, we can’t have enough people teaching people how to cook because what’s happened in the last, I suppose, the last two generations, we’ve let our children and grandchildren out of our houses without equipping them with the basic skills to feed themselves properly. The basic practical skills and stuff that you lose because it’s not a proper education at all.
Really, many people are helpless or they can hardly make toast. These skills are freedom. The more skills we have, the less we are at the mercy of other people. You can also live so much less expensively if you actually have the skills to turn inexpensive ingredients into something delicious, which of course, you can do.
Catherine Moran: Yes, and the knowledge to know how to cook with the seasons.
Darina Allen: Exactly. That’s really important. Yeah.
Catherine Moran: You are a certified culinary professional and teacher, a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. I was wondering how the certificate course is assessed.
Darina Allen: That’s the IACP in the US. It’s International Association of Cooking Schools Professionals. They do an examination that you take and then they come inspect; they have people coming in every couple of years or whatever now. I’ve had that for quite a while and they’re pretty tight about who they give that to, I can tell you, the IACP thing. They don’t hand that out to everybody, but basically, people come and inspect the school. It’s a bit like a restaurant with somebody coming in and you don’t necessarily know that they’re an inspector.
Catherine Moran: You mentioned the professor who had great stamina and obviously a great attitude. From your observations over the years, what would you say are three key behaviours or attitudes that you’ve noticed in students who have excelled on the certificate programme?
Darina Allen: Basically, we’re kind of funny. We’re different to a lot of other schools because I teach the opposite of what a lot of other schools do. Because we do absolutely everything from scratch.
Basically, for me, I don’t even ask what exams they have. It doesn’t interest me remotely what degrees or exams they have brought when they come in. I am only interested in taking people who really want to learn and who are prepared to work really hard, and who are passionate about food and about food issues, and about provenance, and all of the various other boxes that it’s important for me to tick. So that’s the main thing.
Then, I have found it over the years quite difficult to accurately predict the people who are really going to do brilliantly when they leave. Because it’s not necessarily the person who’s the brightest or the best, but there needs to be an extra element of hunger to succeed. And somebody who is very observant about trends, as well. It can be somebody who is just observant about it. It could be they might decide to do a food truck or something, and it could be something as simple as burgers and chips or something, but it could be just the best burgers, the best chips.
I mean, every day at the cooking demonstrations, I suggest another way that they might use their cooking skills, try and deliver some of their cooking. Oftentimes, it will be to point out what another past student has done, or for example, I travel quite a bit, and when I come back I’d always tell them about my travels and what I’ve noticed and where I saw an opportunity, and that kind of thing.
For example, in Brooklyn, which is just outside New York — so a really cool area with lots going on — lots of young people moved out there because real estate is less expensive, and they were able to set up businesses there. There’s also on Saturday and Sunday, there’s this thing called Smorgasburg and it’s a market of pop-up food stalls that, where everybody is doing a different sort of thing and it’s a brilliant place for start-ups. That’s really good to go along to see and come back with 40 different ideas from there.
There’s so many different ways to… once you can cook, you see, you can travel any where in the world or you can earn your living through your cooking in all kinds of different ways. So, it’s people who look out for ideas and all of that sort of thing.
Catherine Moran: Yeah. Sure. I saw you talking about the [Irish] Government’s Origin Green initiative.
Darina Allen: Oh Yeah.
Catherine Moran: I thought that was quite interesting because even though this is clearly a new thing, this is a national sustainability programme. And they’ve got a charter which gives companies a way to prove their green credentials, and it’s all about raw material sourcing and manufacturing processes and social sustainability, but it made me chuckle, really, because it seems to me that, sustainability was at the heart of your operation from the very beginning.
And it was nice that you made some comments on it, but I was wondering what’s your take on the commercial sense of signing up to the Origin Green commitment to sustainability? It makes good commercial sense, doesn’t it?
Darina Allen: Well, that’s absolutely… yes, actually at this point in time I think all of the companies, big companies, the multi-nationals, can all see the value of being… at least carrying a perception that they have an interest in sustainability.
Of course, a lot of them start off… their main priority is the bottom line, but they love to be able to say that they’re sourcing sustainably, that this is part of the philosophy or the mission statement of the company, and so from that point of view… but Ireland really has led away with this, and in some ways, it’s still aspirational. It’s a work in progress and progressing towards a more and more sustainable food culture and food production system.
This is something to aim for and from that point of view, I’m totally behind this. There’s only one little difficulty at the moment. Sometimes it costs quite a lot money to be a part of Origin Green. So, for a lot of the smaller businesses that are absolutely sustainable, the actual financial commitments can make it difficult for them to be a part of it. That needs to be looked out and addressed because obviously they are the very people that you need, not just the very big food producers and multi-nationals.
Catherine Moran: Yeah. That’s often the kicker for small producers that the actual cost of doing business is really tough.
Darina Allen: Yeah, but I’m very proud that Ireland has decided to adopt this sustainable food policy and they are leading the way with it.
Catherine Moran: Yes. They are really taking it very seriously, which is great. I’ve got final question, which is about LitFest.
Darina Allen: Yeah.
Catherine Moran: Lit Fest ’16, and are you looking forward to it?
Darina Allen: Oh, well, of course we are. It’s an amazing event. It is from the 20th to 22nd of May next year . This is our fourth Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine and in fact, it’s got an even longer title. Because Kerrygold are our festival sponsors on that. So it is the Kerrygold Literary Festival of Food and Wine. It’s become known as the LitFest, really, as Ballymaloe Lit Fest.
Basically, we’ve been doing that for four years now and we have targeted the top food and wine and drinks’ people in the world to come as speakers. It’s held both as Ballymaloe House in the Grainstore at Ballymaloe and The Big Shed. There’s a huge fringe festival, and also at Ballymaloe Cookery School.
We have, over the weekend, between seven and eight thousand people and on the Saturday and the Sunday it starts with a great thing on the Friday evening and we have an absolutely amazing, I mean, amazing speakers and, as a result, people literally come from all over the world to Ballymaloe for that.
For example, we’ve had René Redzepi from Noma, Alice Waters, of course, from Chez Panisse in California and Madhur Jaffrey, Claudia Roden, April Bloomfield, on and on, and on, and on. Absolutely, our speakers read like a ‘who’s who’ of the culinary world.
Now, people are desperate to be invited to actually come and speak at it. We don’t release the names of our speakers until — it’s a bit like a U2 concert —some time in January, and then the bookings are opened and it’s all very exciting. It’s absolutely amazing… it should be a date for people’s diaries who are interested in food to come over for that.
Of course, there’s not a bed in the entire neighbourhood between us and Cork, so one has to get in early and book the accommodation to come and stay. It’s an incredible gig and the speakers themselves totally love us. And then you can be walking around, and there you see your favourite food hero or cookbook writer or chef or something just wandering around and you can wander up to them. It’s just very…
Catherine Moran: It’s just sort of surreal really.
Darina Allen: …cool and chilled. Then the vibe and the Big Shed and the fringe area, it’s just amazing and anyway, it’s just an incredible event. Then, of course, litfest.ie is the website.
Catherine Moran: Yes. Yeah. Well, if you want to reveal any of the big names that are coming for Lit Fest ’16 here, feel free to. You’re more than welcome to…
Darina Allen: [Laughing] I’m not allowed! I’d get a big slap on the wrist, I can tell you, if I did that. But boy, I can tell you we’ve got another major line up, both in food and wine. We reckon we have the two top wine people in the world coming this year.
Catherine Moran: That sounds so exciting.
Darina Allen: Yeah. Just leave you guessing.
Catherine Moran: Yeah. I have been trying to get over to attend the festival, but between the jigs and reels I just haven’t been able to do it. Definitely in ’16.
Darina Allen: Definitely one to put on your to-do list.
Catherine Moran: Oh yeah. Nothing is going to stop me.
Darina Allen: Yeah, 20th to the 22nd of May in 2016, yeah.
Catherine Moran: That’s terrific. Well Darina, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it and I do have some insight into how busy you are. Before we sign off, would you give the web address for Ballymaloe.
Darina Allen: Basically, the website is www.cookingisfun.ie and basically, if anybody is in the area on holidays or whatever, the afternoon cookery demonstrations are open to the public from Monday to Friday. Sometimes there’s an event on Saturday as well. Just check out the website and we look forward to welcoming some of your listeners.
Catherine Moran: That’s terrific. I will make sure all of these links are in the show notes because you’re on Facebook and various other places. I’ll put the links in.
Darina Allen: Yeah. Yeah.
Catherine Moran: That’s terrific. Thank you so much.
Darina Allen: Fantastic.
Catherine Moran: Yes.
Darina Allen: Come and see us if you’re over this way.
Catherine Moran: I certainly will. Thank you so much again.
Darina Allen: Nice to talk to you, Catherine.
Catherine Moran: Take care, Darina. You too.
Darina Allen: Bye.
Catherine Moran: Bye-bye.
What a wonderful conversation that was with Darina Allen and what a terrific opportunity it was to be able to hear about not just the day-to-day activities of the Ballymaloe Cookery school but also the principles and ethos on which Darina runs it. Thank you, again, Darina.
All links mentioned in the show are available at the show’s website which is myartisanbusiness.com. You can also download a free transcript of the show there. To get updates on when I publish new episodes of the show, subscribe to my email list at myartisanbusiness.com and I’ll let you know when new episodes are live.
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Until next time, I’m Catherine Moran, happy cooking, happy brewing, happy fermenting, and thank you for listening.