I was so excited to volunteer for the LitFest last weekend at Ballymaloe, and even more excited to be able to work again at the cookery school.
The apron was donned, and the knives sharpened. Felt a bit naked walking in without my order of work or my recipes, but other than that, when I went into Kitchen 3 Friday morning early, it was like I never left.
There were demos of every kind going on all weekend and I was very privileged to see chefs from all corners of the globe.
I also had the privilege of hearing Alice Waters in conversation with John McKenna on the Saturday morning. It was so much more than just a history lesson of her life, it was a journey of social and political commentary in America. Simplicity is her motto, and an appreciation of the food grown around her and the way it should be treated. She considers food a platform on which social change can be built.
The “Big Shed” contains all the food stalls, and is always a hive of activity during the festival, the decorations were eye catching, unique and quirky.
There was an array of wine and beer to be had, and the obligatory elderflower cordial.
The long tables are a great idea, and make for conversation. interaction and general friendliness.
But back in the cookery school we were very busy with Demo prep. The first one I helped with was hosting Allegra McEvedy. She believes that there are more ways for a chef to make a difference than by gaining stars, and that good food should be available to everybody.
The next demo was for Leylie Hayes, with Hugo Arnold, from the Avoca Group. I have regularly cooked from the Avoca Cafe book, so to see the recipes in action was very exciting. I got to make the carrot jam, which is probably the most unusual jam I’ve ever made- but probably have never made anything which such care!
I am looking forward to adding the two breads to my repertoire also.
Between all the excitement I also managed to meet Prue Leith, whom I have been a fan of for many years. She was so nice, and had no problems at all posing for a picture.
It was a completely manic weekend, I fell into bed Sunday night content and delighted that I had remembered most of what I had learnt in the 12 weeks. And I can’t WAIT for next year.
With a special mention to the Cookery school team, including Darina, Rory and Rachel. All of whom it was great to work with again.