Eleven Reasons Why
1. We share your passion for food.
Remember how at school the inspirational teachers were those who felt passionate about their subject? Everyone who works at Ballymaloe Cookery School feels passionate about food. We’re interested in every aspect of food from the obvious things like how it is cooked and presented to the less obvious things like how it is presented to the less obvious things like how it is grown and stored. This enthusiasm makes Ballymaloe a very exciting place to learn because you’ll be immersed in a world that lives, breathes and – well – eats food. Whether you attend a three-hour demonstration or our intensive 12-week certificate course you’ll find it is time very well spent. Our expert team has a wealth of experience and knowledge to impart. You’ll learn about everything from choosing the best ingredients to cooking the most complicated of dishes and – just as importantly – you’ll pick up hundreds of invaluable tips and secrets.
2. The school is run by one of the world’s most famous chefs.
Darina Allen may be Ireland’s most famous chef – known to tens of millions of people all over the world because of her television programmes and books – but if you ask her what she does she says she is a teacher. She lectures at Ballymaloe most days during term time – and even if she isn’t teaching she is invariably to be found working elsewhere in the school or its gardens. Darina’s involvement in the school is very much 'hands-on'.
3. You’ll be using first class locally produced ingredients.
The better the ingredients you uses, the better the food you’ll cook. Ballymaloe is almost certainly the only cookery school in the world located in the middle of a one hundred acre, organic farm. The vegetables, fruit and herbs you’ll be using come straight from our gardens and greenhouses. We also have our own cattle, pigs and chickens. What we can’t grow ourselves we source locally. For instance, almost all of our fish comes direct from the boats in nearby Ballycotton Harbour. Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have such abundant resources on their doorstep – so we will show you how to identify the best possible ingredients wherever you live.
4. You’ll get plenty of one-to-one support.
Ballymaloe has a reputation for offering a warm welcome to students. The courses are intensive – but the atmosphere is always friendly and helpful. Crucially, a high degree of individual attention is given to every student. We doubt you’ll find a school anywhere that provides you with the same level of personal attention and support.
5. There’s a wide range of innovative courses to choose from.
This year’s programme is one of the most exciting and innovative we have every offered. At its heart lies our certificate course – a twelve-week course designed to offer students a complete grounding in the art of cooking. About half the students taking this course go on to become professional chefs – while the others acquire the knowledge and skill to cook at a professional level if they so wish. In addition to these longer courses we offer a huge range of short courses lasting from half a day to a week. Remember, too, you can always book yourself in for one of our regular afternoon demonstrations.
6. The School is in a staggeringly beautiful location.
If you know East Cork then we don’t need to say a word about how beautiful the area is. But if you haven’t visited this part of the world you are in for a treat. The school is set in the heart of lush, rolling countryside – just half a mile from the sea. The estate incorporates ten acres of formal and market gardens (including a whole acre of glasshouses) and is an oasis of tranquillity. By the way we are located less than two miles from Ballymaloe House – Ireland’s foremost country house hotel.
7. All the latest facilities… and all the comforts of home.
The school is sited in a converted apple barn. It contains four, fully appointed ‘teaching’ kitchens with all the latest equipment; two demonstration kitchens; two beautiful dining rooms; plus cold room, freezer, larder and offices. It is a bright, cheerful, sunny space overlooking the fruit garden. Accommodation is available in one of five, self-catering 18th century cottages located in the old farm courtyard. Given all the facilities and things to do at the school itself there is no need to go anywhere else. But for those who wish to explore we are only a few minutes from the sea and around thirty-five minutes by car from Cork city.
8. You’ll work hard – but you’ll have fun.
There is a strong work ethos here. Our day tends to run longer than in many other schools because we believe it is important to fit in as much as possible. There are lots of extra opportunities, too, for instance, like to watch honey being collected from our beehives or try our hand at churning butter or milking a cow. Lunch is a special time every day when teachers and students sit down in the spacious dining room overlooking gardens to enjoy a three course meal which students have prepared using recipes from the demonstrations.
9. You’ll benefit from 25 years of experience.
Darina Allen founded Ballymaloe Cookery school in 1983 – so 2008 will be our twenty fifth year in operation. With such a wealth of experience we know how to ensure that you receive the greatest possible benefit from your time with us. Every tiny detail will be looked after from ensuring that you have detailed course notes to meeting any specific dietary needs, and from helping with your equipment requirements to providing you with accommodation. Incidentally, Darina Allen originally started working at the world-famous Ballymaloe House – the Allen family farm, which her mother-in-law opened as a restaurant and hotel in 1964.
10. You’ll enjoy first class value for money.
We price our courses according to who is lecturing, the number of staff required, the cost of the ingredients and the length of the programme. We are very conscious about providing value for money to our students. Despite the higher ratio of tutors to students and the superior quality of our ingredients you will see that our prices are more than competitive.
11. If you want to ‘go professional’ we can help.
If you want to become a professional chef you couldn’t attend a better cookery school. There is a strong demand for our Ballymaloe 12-week ‘graduates’ and many go on to become professional chefs. If this is your interest you’ll find the Ballymaloe name opens plenty of doors for you – plus we are always pleased to help with introductions.