The photos of that event are still up on the wall behind the tills. There I was in my flowery apron making Ballymaloe cheese fondue in their original book shop, the new premises on the Main Street is much larger. It was such a fun trip down memory lane, to flick through their photo albums….
This entrepreneurial trio had planned lot of excitement for the 30th anniversary celebration, including a baking competition. Contestants could choose a cake, biscuit or bun recipe from any of my 18 now 19 cookbooks.
Three whole tables of cakes awaited when I arrived. Peter O’Meara, of Savill’s Auctioneers fame and, I had the unenviable task of judging the best entries. As well as many luscious cakes there were brownies, cupcakes, buns and a gorgeous swiss roll oozing with raspberries and cream. The standard was fantastic, every item was absolutely delicious, I was blown away by how each contestant had reproduced my recipe to perfection. Some of the baking had been done by children and teenagers, which always gives me a special ‘whoops in my tummy’. Wonderful to get the kids into the kitchen, they often start with baking and then gradually move onto salads and savoury dishes. It is super important to pass on cooking skills to the next generation, so they are equipped with the basic techniques to feed themselves. It’s also high time we changed our attitude to cooking and hospitality as a career of lesser value – how ridiculous is that!
All I could do initially was scramble eggs and with that one skill, considered by many as of lesser importance than any of the STEM subjects, I have had a hugely enjoyable career and have had the opportunity to bring joy and share my knowledge with thousands of others.
The winners of the cake competition at Philip’s bookshop were awarded a rosette and copy of my new One Pot Feeds All Cookbook, which I am excited to tell you has just won Book of the Year at the Listowel Food Fair...what an honour!