Wednesday 24 May 2017

Cooking up a storm

Irish food has been in the ascendancy for the past 20-odd years and that’s reflected in the quality and diversity of the cookery schools that have sprung up around the country.

Showcasing the richness of our agricultural produce, these schools cater for everyone - from those keen learn the basics of cooking to experienced home cooks wanting to raise their game to a whole new level. They make for ideal short-holiday breaks whether it’s with family or friends or as a treat just for yourself.

Cloughjordan House, Tipperary

Sarah Baker’s cookery school is located in a beautifully restored coach house adjacent to the 400-year-old Cloughjordan House. Seasonal options including winter cooking classes, plus instruction on how to make the perfect Christmas dinner. Young cooks are especially welcome. Stay in one of the tastefully appointed rooms of the main house and explore the understated beauty of the north Tipperary and south Offaly countryside.

Ballymaloe, Cork

One of the most celebrated cookery schools in the world - and with good reason - Ballymaloe offers everything from day classes for novices to three-month intensive courses for those keen to make a career in catering. Three generations of the Allen dynasty - Myrtle, Darina and Rachel - have made this west Cork venue an Irish institution. No visit is complete without a stop at the nearby fishing harbour of Ballycotton.

Dunbrody Cookery School, Wexford

With courses ranging from single-day to week-long, there’s something for everybody at Kevin Dundon’s cookery school, which is located opposite his award winning restaurant. The philosophy here is seasonal, locally sourced ingredients prepared without over-complication. A celebrated course focuses on fuss-free cooking for dinner parties. Set on the Hook Peninsula, there are pretty fishing villages and beaches within a short drive.

Dublin Cookery School, Dublin

Newly crowned winner of Best Cookery School at the Irish Restaurants Awards, Lynda Booth’s esteemed establishment is to be found in a sympathetically reconfigured warehouse in the sea-fronted suburb of Blackrock, south Dublin. As well as courses for beginners and professionals, the Ballymaloe graduate - who worked at some of the world’s best restaurants - offers a pop-up restaurant at the school every month.

The Tannery, Waterford

Paul Flynn is well-known for his down-to-earth cooking programmes on RTE and he brings the same philosophy to his cookery school which shares its name with his restaurant and townhouse. The purpose-built, naturally lit space offers an ideal environment in which to learn about about the finer points of cooking. The location, next to the fishing village of Dungarvan, is perfect for hikers and cyclists.

Ballinacurra House, Cork

A striking mansion available for private hire is now home to the Kinsale Gourmet Academy - a new cookery school that embraces the famed culinary heritage of the west Cork town. Under the direction of head chef David Rice, the school is passionate about using local, seasonal and artisanal ingredients. Residents have no shortage of dining options in the locality, with an evening at the Bulmen gastropub in nearby Summer cove a must.

Ghan House Cookery School, Louth

The country house hotel and restaurant offers cookery courses on a group-booking basis, ideal for the stag and hen parties that have made Carlingford one of the most vibrant night-time destinations in Ireland. Learn to cook a three-course dinner in two-to-three-hour hands-on sessions and then enjoy the fruits of your labour in the elegant surrounds of the old house, which overlooks the Irish Sea.

Ryeland House, Kilkenny

A 170-year-old country house five miles from Kilkenny city is the elegant location for Anne Neary’s cookery school. All abilities are catered for on day, evening and two-day classes with the Neary farm providing many of the ingredients used. Forthcoming classes include an introduction to Malaysian food and the secrets of stress-free Christmas cooking.

Ballyknocken Cookery School, Wicklow

Run by the TV chef Catherine Fulvio, Ballyknocken is located in the heart of the Wicklow countryside and yet is a short drive from Dublin. Healthy cooking is a speciality here with such class titles as Super Food for Super People. There’s also tuition in how to tackle that most daunting of culinary tasks - baking the perfect Christmas cake. Ballyknocken’s setting offers a golden opportunity to explore the majesty of our Garden County.

Cooks Academy, Dublin

Located in the heart of Dublin’s Creative Quarter, just a few minutes’ walk from Grafton Street, this cookery school caters for both enthusiastic amateurs and professional chefs alike. Its popular one-day courses include introductions to gluten-free cooking and Indian cuisine, and such seasonal offerings as Classic Cooking for Christmas Day. Cooks Academy is also something of an oenophile mecca, hosting regular wine tastings.

For more mouth-watering ideas for see www.discoverireland.ie #thisisLIVING

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