ArchiveNovember 11, 2001

Chef of the Year

The tragic events of September 11th have had a myriad of repercussions across the globe. Economies previously riding on the crest of a wave are now going into a tail spin with a domino effect across society.  Thousands and thousands of people are being made redundant, many more than we realize, because only the dramatic cases are being reported. A friend from the UK, whose son has just graduated from a top business school is pessimistic about this son’s chances of getting a job. Just a few months ago, graduates had a huge choice of jobs starting at minimum £35,000 per year straight out of college. Last week there were 300 applicants for a job with a salary of £17,000, even though he was at the top of his class he wasn’t even granted an interview.

The gradual realization that life may never be the same again has resulted in a re-adjustment of peoples’ priorities. Newspapers report a dramatic increase in the number of people looking at self-sufficiency and a 20% increase in church attendance. Materialism, conspicuous consumption, ostentation, suddenly feel even more inappropriate. Spirituality is in, living in the moment, life coaching and reskilling, alternative therapies, personal growth, valuing family time, have all become a major pre-occupation.


Last week my sisters organized a wonderful family get-together to celebrate the joys and achievements of the past year, over thirty gathered. Each family was asked to bring enough food for fifteen for a specific course, so it wasn’t too much trouble for any one person. Blathnaid and Elizabeth had spent many happy hours during the previous week composing a hilarious script for the ceremony. All kinds of achievements were rewarded with witty prizes – from fridge magnets to a hula hoop for Timmy who was awarded the Golden Halo award for the most patient husband of the millennium! Prowess on the golf course, the classroom, sports pitch, the garden, the party circuit, and the farm, were awarded, as well as on the business front. My 76 year old mother who went back to school last year got a huge cheer for her four distinctions in her Art, Craft and Design Course and was awarded our‘Student of the Year’.


We gave my brother Rory ‘Chef of the Year’, not knowing that he would officially receive this award from Georgina Campbell’s Jameson Food Guide this week. Another brother Tom featured in these awards also when O’Connells restaurant at Bewleys Hotel in Dublin received the Feile Bia Award. We are thrilled for them both. It was all the best fun and a delightful way to highlight the events of the year and to gather the whole family together, so cousins who are scattered all over the country could get to know each other a little more. The shared family feast was eclectic and delicious. Here are two simple recipes cooked by some of the children.


Georgina Campbell’s Jameson Guide 2002. ‘Ireland’s finest places to eat, drink and stay’.


Alan’s chocolate cake


My rugby mad nephew Alan’s yummy chocolate cake which he whizzes up in

between scrums!

6 oz (175g) plain flour

6 oz (175g) castor sugar

6 oz (175g) butter

3 eggs

1 ½ level teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ ozs (35g) cocoa

2 ½ tablespoons natural yoghurt

2 x 7 inch (18cm) sandwich tins, greased and floured.

Mix all cake ingredients together in Magimix till just blended together.

Divide between the two tins.

Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4 for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Icing and filling:

2 bars Bourneville chocolate

1 bar dairy milk chocolate

2 small or 1 large egg

Melt chocolate in a bowl over hot water, and whisk in eggs. Fill and ice cake with this mixture. Decorate as desired. Eat and tuck in!


Alison’s Apple Cake


Serves 8

5 oz (150g) flour

5 oz (150g) castor sugar

5 oz (150g) butter

2 eggs

1 small teaspoon baking powder

4 floz (125ml) buttermilk or yoghurt

1 tablespoon Amaretto

2 Bramley cooking apples, peeled and diced.

9 inch (23cm) cake tin, buttered

Put everything except the apple and Amaretto into a magimix. Whizz bang for a few seconds.. Toss in Amaretto. Fold the diced apples into the cake mixture. Pour into the tin. Bake 180ºC/ 350/ regulo 4, for 20 minutes approx. Sprinkle with castor sugar.

Serve with softly whipped cream.


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