Tuesday 23 October 2018

'She is where modern Irish food began - but back then she couldn't even scramble an egg'

Three months ago, the Observer Food Monthly published its list of the '50 things we love in the world of food right now'. In it, editor Allan Jenkins included this paean of praise to Myrtle

Rachel, Myrtle and Darina Allen. Photo: Clare Keogh
Rachel, Myrtle and Darina Allen. Photo: Clare Keogh

Allan Jenkins

She is the holy grail, the mothership, where modern Irish food began. Back in the myths of time, Myrtle Allen was the farmer's wife who opened a country house restaurant in East Cork in the 1960s and gained a Michelin star. She even opened a place in Paris and is still revered by posh French chefs.

She created the global brand of Ballymaloe, became matriarch of a food clan who, like the Kennedys, prefer to cluster together on campus.

Myrtle is the original Allen, a mother of six, mother-in-law to Darina Allen who founded the famous cookery school and whose son married Rachel Allen, passing down the dynastic name by female lineage.

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