Darina Allen and Ireland’s Ballymaloe Cookery School

Location of Ballymaloe Cookery School on map of Ireland.

Ballymaloe Cookery School
is in County Cork, on the sea.

Darina Allen is an Irish chef, food writer, TV personality and founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. This is real food, Irish style. The school is in Ballymaloe in County Cork on the sea.

Darina started the school in 1983 with her husband, Tim, a farmer. They emphasize the vital connection between farming and cooking. According to its website, it is “the only cookery school in the world in the middle of its own 100-acre organic farm…­. [It is] a world where the emphasis is on food – growing it, preparing it, cooking it, eating it and, crucially, enjoying it.” Here’s what they believe:

The school’s philosophy is very simple.

We believe that the finest food comes from the finest ingredients. We teach using the best we can grow, rear or obtain locally. Our farm is organic and we use endeavour to use as much organic produce as we can in the school.

We believe in the sustainable use of resources. We work ceaselessly to avoid waste. We use seasonal produce. We are extremely conscious of ‘food miles’ (the distance travelled by food between the farmer and the plate) and keep to a minimum the use of imported ingredients. We work hard to make sure that the school is environmentally sensitive as possible.

We believe that good food, good health and good farming practices are an inseparable part of the same process. As Lady Balfour, founder of the Soil Association, remarked: ‘health, whether of soil, plant, animal or man, is one and indivisible.’

Finally, we believe that cooking and eating should be enriching, enjoyable, entertaining and, in a word, fun.

If you have the money and time, you can attend their amazing cooking school. I visited and was impressed.

Traditional Irish Cooking book cover image.

“Probably the definitive
Irish cookbook.”

More affordable are her many books. Among them is Irish Traditional Cooking. “Darina has penned what is probably the definitive Irish Cookbook. Anyone who recognises the value of traditional cooking will enjoy this. This is home cooking at its best,” wrote Britain’s “Mostly Food Journal in a review.


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