Spotlight on Chefs

Interview with Rachel Allen

What is your food philosophy & how does this shape your approach cooking?

My food philosophy is very much shaped by the cookery school here at Ballymaloe. I think using good ingredients is fundamentally important to cooking. My recipes aren’t fussy, they’re easy to follow and about making delicious food that isn’t too elaborate or complex.

Who or what has influenced your cooking style most to date?

My mother in law Darina Allen – who taught me when I first came to the Ballymaloe Cookery School at 18 – has been hugely influential in my cooking. In addition her brother, Rory O’Connell has been very influential in my cooking. Rory also teaches at the school and was head chef at Ballymaloe House when I cooked there.

What’s your favourite comfort food?

Cake is my ultimate comfort food, it’s the dish that reminds me most of home and immediately puts me at ease. If I had to pick one I’d say a divinely rich chocolate cake. With some softly whipped cream.

What’s your favourite recipe using cream?

It’s so hard to pick one, but I do adore bacon with cabbage and cream. I love the way the cream lifts the cabbage from a humble ingredient in to something really special.

Click Here for Dulce de Leche cake


Interview with Liz Wall (President ICA)

What is your food philosophy & how does this shape your approach cooking?

My food philosophy is to buy Local Fresh produce which is in season, and this always shapes what I buy and cook

Who or what has influenced your cooking style most to date?

I feel very lucky to have learned everything I know from my Mother and Grandmother

What’s your favourite comfort food?

My favourite comfort food is a bowl of my home made winter vegetable soup with a swirl of Avonmore cream on the top

What’s your favourite recipe using cream?
My favourite recipe using cream is in my vegetable soup with Avonmore cream on the top

Click Here for Black Forest Gateau Recipe


 Interview with Domini Kemp

What is your food philosophy & how does this shape your approach to cooking

It’s about simplifying dishes to their most basic, without compromising on taste. I don’t like wasting time, so I like to constantly refine dishes and recipes so that they still taste great, but that they become easier, faster and therefore become more likely to be used time and time again.

Who or what has influenced your cooking style most to date? 

So many people!  I love everyone from Simon Hopkinson, Nigel Slater, Diana Henry, Sarah Reeves, Sophie Dahl and American chefs such as Laurent Tourondel and of course all our chefs here in Ireland.

What’s your favourite comfort food?

It changes from day to day: sometimes a really delicious stew when it’s cold and wet. Sometimes a whole selection of light summery salads and fish dishes when the sun is shining. Sometimes it’s sweet and sticky and sometimes it’s all about great bread and Irish cheeses.  It really depends on the weather and who I’m with or who I’m cooking for.


Interview with Neven Maguire

What is your food philosophy & how does this shape your approach cooking?

I have always advocated seasonality. I love when foods are associated with a particular time of the year. It gives a great structure to the year and there is always something to look forward to. And apart from that I like to use quality local produce and thankfully in Blacklion. we are spoiled for choice.

Who or what has influenced your cooking style most to date?

Well that has to be Vera, my Mum, who sadly passed away recently. I learned everything from her and she was a great cook. Another great influence is Lea Linster, a Michelin starred chef in Luxembourg who I have often visited and she has been to Blacklion also. Another fantastic woman.

What’s your favourite comfort food?

I love slow cooked beef casseroles with a creamy mash and rich red wine jus

What’s your favourite recipe using cream?

Mascarpone and cream trifle with berries soaked in star anise and cinnamon syrup


Interview with Donal Skehan

What is your food philosophy & how does this shape your cooking approach?

I believe food should be simple and accessible using everyday ingredients to create truly delicious dishes. My main aim through my cookbooks and TV series is to really encourage people to get into the kitchen and to cook. It’s such an incredibly rewarding activity and one that benefits us on so many levels. With all this in my mind whenever I write recipes I strive to make sure that all my recipes are both delicious but certainly not intimidating.

Who or what has influenced your cooking style most to date?

My love of food has been passed down through my family so my mom and my grandmother would definitely be some of my first sources of inspiration. I’m a huge fan of cookbooks and my house is full of them, so I would take a lot of inspiration from the food I read about. Travel is also a huge source of inspiration for me and I love trying new things. I alway travel with a notebook which I write down anything exciting or interesting I’ve tasted.

What’s your favourite comfort food?

A total family favourite but you cannot beat a really good Irish stew, I have really distinct memories of my mom making it when we got home from school in the Autumn and the windows of our kitchen would be all steamed up while myself and my brother did our homework on the kitchen table.

What’s your favourite recipe using cream?

It has to be my Coq Au Vin Blanc, a wonderfully creamy and rich chicken dish which is total winter comfort food and best of all its quite economical to make!


Interview with Catherine Fulvio

What is your food philosophy & how does this shape your approach cooking?

It is very simple – eat well, be well. Because enjoying fresh, home-made food is good for the body and good for the soul. It’s all about the quality of the ingredients which gives the best results. The less manipulated the food the better it tastes.

Who or what has influenced your cooking style most to date?

Well first and foremost it was my mother and of course my Italian in-laws but really there are many influencing factors to be considered, it’s not just about the people behind the food like Jamie Oliver, who I admire hugely and my personal food hero Anna Del Conte. It is about the quality and the accessibility of food and the wonderful Irish produce we have on our doorstep today.

What’s your favourite comfort food?

It changes with the seasons but at the moment it would be a Risotto – a great one pot winter dish so either my Oven-Baked Mushroom Risotto or a Pancetta & Pesto Risotto there is always Pesto leftover to be used up in our house!

What’s your favourite recipe using cream?

Again my tastes change as recipes develop but a favourite at the moment is definitely my Lemon & Panetonne Trifle, perfect for Christmas!

Click Here for Farfalle with red pepper sauce.

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