Sunday, 28 May 2017
We had the honour of being invited for lunch at one of the world's most prestigious cooking schools last week. Ballymaloe is not just a cooking school. It is also a one hundred acre organic farm and a Relais @ Chateau Hotel. The cooking school is under the direction of Darina Allen and has a staff of sixty persons. As soon as you enter the school you see that it is being run under very professional hands. On the day of our visit, the school was offering cooking classes to thirty five local school children under a enlightened educational initiative between Darina herself and the Educational Authority.
All six kitchens were in use and all tutors keeping a close eye on their charges. To the great credit of Darina and her professional team, the lunch was served in a well rehearsed manner and we were impressed with the local in house supply of salads and foods served to us. The farm is one of the most sustainable businesses of its kind certainly within the British/Irish isles if not the world. Ballymaloe is way ahead of the game spearheading the war against global food giants who are damaging the quality and diversity of our food supply. On the day of our visit, there ŵas a seminar and debate focusing on the danger of mass kelp processing initiatives which were likely to cause serious damage to the local kelp farming industry and to the sea bed around Ireland and beyond. Ballymaloe is a beacon for sustainability and it is Darina Allen and her enlightened team who are fighting this war on all fronts.
When you walk around the school or the beautiful gardens or indeed the enormous plantations under glass, you get a glimpse of the vast enterprise that Ballymaloe is and the extraordinary work being carried out to train the chefs and culinary experts of tomorrow. The hotel itself is the perfect location to enjoy great food and wine in beautiful surroundings and welcoming staff. It was a great honour to meet Darina and her team who made us so very very welcome on what was for them a busy normal day!