Reflections and New Adventures

I cant believe how fast time is passing! Last time we spoke, I was still knee deep in the madness that is the Ballymaloe 12 week certificate course and loving every minute. Well much has happened since then, let me fill you in!

On the 13th March, a group of my fellow students and I organised a pop-up dinner event in the school to raise money for East Cork Slow Food’s educational project, purchasing chickens and developing vegetable gardens for local schools. Our theme for the evening was Masquerade and the menu was seasonal and filled with as much farm produce as we could muster.


And what an evening it was:

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Look at some of the beautiful food produced by incredibly talented cooks!


After the madness of the popup dinner, we were invited by Darina and Tim to a celebratory dinner in their house which was one of the nicest evenings.2016-03-15 19.01.542016-03-15 19.27.33


After all that fun, it was time to get down to brass tax….exams! Twelve weeks of full on learning would be distilled down into a series of written exams accompanied by an intensive practical exam. Study became the main focus around the courtyard

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The practical exam involved planning a balanced and seasonal menu of starter, main, dessert and a bread, assigned to us the day before the exam. The menu had to be dedicated to a theme. The theme I chose was a farewell meal for my family, the food they love most and the ideal goodbye meal for them as I was abandoning them!

Seared scallops with beurre blanc.


Roasted rack of lamb, purple sprouting brocolli, duck fat roast potatoes, fresh mint chutney and gravy.


Lemon tart with lemon ice-cream and candied julienne of lemon peel.

After what was undoubtedly the fastest few hours of my life, I was pretty happy with all I had produced. I just about managed to snap a quick picture when I was ushered out to allow the judges to taste everything and to allow me to breath!


One more day of study and then the barrage of exams took over on Friday. The exams were tough, I am not going to lie! For any prospective students considering doing the 12 week course, big tip – study early, study often! I’ve never been more exhausted than trying to cram in a shedload of information in those last few weeks. Make notes from the start that you can review later on! Questions on the exams covered a litany of subjects and included topics such as far ranging as “what is a bullock” and “Name four uses for chocolate ganache”!

And then it was done, time to pack and decompress after the exams as well as anticipate the goodbye dinner being lovingly prepared by Rory O’Connell. One last evening of drinks with the incredible group of new friends I have met along the way and then it was up to the school for our farewells.

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A fantastic evening with the most beautiful food and wonderful company topped off by a dj session with Mossie from The Blackbird (and a slightly unfortunate incident with a candle and my hair! Thanks Sabrina!)

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I can honestly say that deciding to attend Ballymaloe has been one of the best decisions of my life. Every day was a new experience and an opportunity to learn with like-minded people. I’ve met people who have blown me away with their talent and skills and just as importantly, people with warmth, humour and compassion! Living with and working with 60 odd people all day, every day is of course a challenge but is made so much easier by people supporting and helping each other through tough days and making each other laugh. I know I will see great things from so many of my classmates in years to come.

So now on to the next adventure, of which I will update you in the next post!

Slán for now,






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