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My grandchildren are celebrity chefs of the future because of a passion for food says Darina


 Darina Allen

Darina Allen

Top chef Rachel Allen with her daughter  Scarlett

Top chef Rachel Allen with her daughter Scarlett


Darina Allen

Her daughter-in-law is one of the country's best known chefs.

So it's no wonder that cookery school boss Darina Allen sees her grandchildren as celebrity chefs of the future.

The founder of the acclaimed Ballymaloe Cookery School says that a passion for cooking is taken for granted in the Allen household.

Darina is very close to her nine grandchildren, three of whom are the children of TV personality Rachel Allen and her husband, Isaac.



"Cooking is part of their lives," Darina told the Herald.

"It's not something that everyone talks about.

"It's just something that goes on all of the time."

And Darina (62), who counts authentic Mexican food as being among the best in the world, says her grandchildren are dab hands at making tasty fajitas.

"I was really surprised that the grandchildren loved them," she said. "They love things that they put together.

"We get a family meal going once a week and we all cook.

"Sitting down around the table with my four children and nine grandchildren is incredible."

Darina, who has brought out a book celebrating 30 years of tradition at Ballymaloe, says she will keep going at the cookery school for as long as she can.

She said: "As long as I have the energy to keep it going, I will. I teach every day and when I am not there, my brother Rory O'Connell runs the school. Rachel also teaches at the school so it's a bit of a family affair."

And Darina isn't ruling out the possibility of mother and daughter-in-law teaming up for a TV project.

"You never know what might happen," she said.

Darina was joined at the Mansion House in Dublin yesterday by the Mexican Ambassador to Ireland, Carlos Garcia de Alba, and the Lord Mayor, Oisín Quinn, who hosted a taco cook-off event to celebrate the Taste of Mexico festival.



And Darina feels that Irish food makers have a lot to learn from Mexican cuisine.

"Some of my favourite food in the world is Mexican so I cook a lot of that food and my family love it," Darina told the Herald.

"Our introduction to Mexican food outside Mexico has been Tex-Mex.

"So gradually as our palates develop we are going more towards authentic Mexican food and how to make it."