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Episode 22: With Darina Allen

In this week’s podcast, Patrick talks to Darina Allen, renowned chef, best-selling author, and co-founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School on the South coast of Ireland.

‘Ballymaloe Cookery School was born out of desperation’, explains Darina, as she recounts the heart-warming story of how it all began, and what first brought her to Ballymaloe House – where she met her husband Tim Allen, who she opened the school with in 1983. Today the school maintains a world-class reputation for its cookery courses, attracting people from all walks of life. Based upon the slow food philosophy and ‘farm-to-fork’ cooking, the school aims to teach about cooking within the wider context of the landscape, the seasons, and agricultural sustainability.

Moving forwards, the conversation turns towards the importance of sharing these skills and learnings with a much wider audience. An interest in sustainable diets reaches far beyond the realm of chefs and home cooks; “There’s a real hunger among doctors to learn more about the connection between food and health”, Darina explains, with a new course in culinary medicine in the pipeline at Ballymaloe.

Patrick also highlights the need for food education to be integrated into the school curriculum, to provide a more holistic education for future generations. “We must get practical cooking re-embedded in the curriculum globally” agrees Darina, which is why her next book will explore recipes that she believes no child should leave school without.

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Photograph: Kristin Perers