On, Wednesday 12th March, we celebrate the 90th Birthday of one of Ireland's best known chefs and the founder of Ballymaloe House & Cookery School - Myrtle Allen.
In 1962, Myrtle's love of cooking got her a job as Cookery Correspondent with the Irish Farmers Journal and in 1964 she opened The Yeat's Room Restaurant at Ballymaloe House in Co Cork. In doing so, she founded Ireland's best loved catering dynasty.
Along with her then sous-chef, Darina O'Connell, now married to Myrtle's son Tim Allen, Myrtle started giving courses in cooking and the now famous Ballymaloe Cookery School was born. Myrtle always believed in using the freshest seasonal ingredients and in letting the natural flavours of food speak for itself. This is the cornerstone of the Ballymaloe restaurant and their cookery school teachings to this day. The school is now run by Darina. Top lecturers at the school include brother Rory O'Connell and her daughter-in-law, TV Chef Rachel Allen.
Myrtle's restaurant at Ballymaloe House also celebrates 50 years in business this year
In 1986 Myrtle Allen was asked to help found Euro-toques International and was also the founder-member of Euro-toques Ireland. Euro-toques is an organisation of professional cooks promoting & protecting Europe's culinary heritage, and defending the quality of local and carefully cooked food.
Many of Ireland's top chefs and restaurateurs learned their trade at the apron-strings of Myrtle Allen and her style of cooking is the backbone of what is now called "Modern Irish" food. Her contribution to the artisan food movement in Ireland has been crucial to it's continued development.
Myrtle is considered by most to be the matriarch of modern Irish food and her family continue to encourage and teach a new generation of cooks and chefs at her beloved Ballymaloe.
It is very fitting on this, her birthday, that Mrs Allen is bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Irish Food Writers Guild at their annual award ceremony held at l’Ecrivainon restaurant on Baggot Street, Dublin, where Michelin-starred chef Derry Clarke creating stunning dishes with the award-winning ingredients.
Happy Birthday Mrs Allen and best wishes from all your Irish Food lovers and admirers!
For more from Zack see www.IrishFoodGuide.ie.