ArchiveNovember 9, 2013

Feeding the 10,000 – Good Food Ireland Food Summit 2013

The recent Web Summit in the RDS in Dublin brought to Ireland by brilliant young entrepreneur Paddy Cosgrave blew people out of the water. Paddy looks like a gangly curly haired cherub but can you imagine the crazy dreams inside that boys head. Just ten days before the 3rd Web Summit he contacted Margaret Jeffares, Founder of Good Food Ireland and asked if she would take on the feeding of the 10,000 and so the inaugural Food Summit in association with Good Food Ireland was born. What a blast – over sixty Good Food Ireland members rose to the occasion. Margaret contacted Rory O’Connell and asked him to manage the project – it was a tantalising but terrifying project – an irresistible opportunity not to be missed to give 10,000 delegates from over 30 countries a taste of some of the very best food Ireland has to offer.

Good Food Ireland has organised many outstandingly successful events but this was on quite a different scale. It’s difficult to resist Margaret Jeffares passion to showcase the best of what Ireland has to offer and her considerable powers of persuasion. Rory and herself put a plan together. A huge marquee was erected in Herbert Park close to the RDS. Kitchens were installed with the help of John Coughlan and his catering team. Good Food Ireland members from all four corners of Ireland, chefs, farmers, fishermen, cheese makers and bakers, black pudding and sausage makers, fish smokers…Glenilen brought their beautiful yoghurt and the Stanley’s served their Rossmore ice-cream made at their farm close to Rathdowney in Co Laois. Seafood Chowder from Carrygerry House near Shannon was also warmly received and the Shelbourne Hotel served 600 Carlingford Oysters in a couple of hours – where would you get oysters at a conference?

Artisan baker Robert Ditty baked his famous oat cakes and O’Connell’s Restaurant in Donnybrook served Hereford prime beef which had the techies drooling. Sunil Ghai from Ananda Restaurant made his homemade chicken tikka masala for thousands. Peter Ward from Country Choice in Nenagh brought 25 whole cooked hams (2,500 slices) and gave delegates a running commentary about the Good Food Ireland members who were serving their food. Gillian Hegarty from Ballymaloe House cooked 34 gallons of chickpea and Swiss chard stew which she had calculated to be enough for two days but was completely gone by 2pm on the first day when over 7,000 people poured into the Good Food Ireland Food Summit instead of the expected 5,000 plus.

The response to the food was phenomenal – Twitter went crazy and Good Food Ireland trended on Twitter. SO many people spontaneously came up to the Good Food Ireland members to thank them for the food which meant so much, to the many people who had voluntarily given up their days to give people a taste of the best of Irish Food. Many of the chefs and producers were totally out of food after the first day so there were amazing stories of Good Food Ireland members toiling through the night to make or bake enough food to make up the thousands of portions needed by Rory O’Connell for the second day.

Nora Egan drove home to Inch House in Co Tipperary where she and her girl made and cooked 40 new black puddings until 4am and then at the crack of dawn her son drove to Dublin with the freshly made puddings.

Barry Liscombe of Hartes Bar and Grill in Kildare was making 1,000 more chocolate truffle lollipops until two o’clock in the morning. Veronica Molloy of Crossogue Preserves came back again on Thursday to help out her Good Food Ireland Family, even though all her produce had been enjoyed. The legendary Helen Gee from Abbeyleix was busy slathering her delicious jam onto Waterford Blaas.

Mark Staples, chef from the Merrion Hotel rang his butcher and got enough meat to make almost 1000 portions of succulent beef casserole through the night.

Tom O’Connell headed back to his restaurant in Donnybrook and got his team to make another 2,000 portions of vegetable stew to serve with a fluffy vegetable couscous. The vegetarian and vegan options were hugely appreciated by the delegates and the team effort and determination to showcase the best Irish artisan and local food. Paddy Cosgrave and his team invited Margaret Jeffares, Rory O’Connell and the members of Good Food Ireland Food Summit team onto the main stage to receive a standing ovation and resounding cheers from the 10,000 Web Summit participants. Here are just a few of the recipes for some of the dishes that elicited an enthusiastic response.

For a full list of the Good Food Ireland members who did Ireland the Food Island proud see


Mildly Spiced Curry of Dublin grown Vegetables with Green Saffron Curry Spices


From O’Connell’s Restaurant in Donnybrook, Dublin.


1 white onion | medium size – sliced thinly

½  a head of broccoli

½  a head of cauliflower

2 carrots – medium sized – cubed

2 peppers – red and yellow

any other root vegetable

fresh coriander – chopped

For the Sauce

coconut milk – 1 tin of 400 ml

double cream – 600ml

1 tablespoon korma curry spices (preferably Green Saffron Spices)

100ml sweet chilli sauce

optional chilli flakes for a spicier taste

salt & pepper to taste


First, fry the thinly sliced onions.   Add korma curry spices and cook of about 1 min. Stir well.   Stir in the cream and the coconut milk. Add sweet chilli sauce and bring gently to the boil.  Once the preparation reaches boiling point, reduce to ‘medium to low heat’ and allow to simmer for another 20 minutes or so until the sauce has thickened.

Season to taste. Whilst the sauce is simmering, steam the carrots, broccoli and cauliflower,  until ‘al dente’ .   You may decide to add other vegetable that you like to this selection.   Whilst steaming the vegetables, do not overcook (as they will keep on cooking gently whilst being reheated in the sauce). Slice and ‘seed’ the peppers – slices 1cm wide. Roast the slices until ‘al dente’ (do not over roast – as mentioned above).

When the sauce has thickened enough (coating the back of a spoon), add the vegetables and mix well. Just before serving, add some chopped coriander to taste.


Gillian Hegarty’s Chickpea, Swiss Chard and Tomato Stew


Gillian Hegarty of Ballymaloe House originally learned this recipe from Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers from the River Café in London.


Serves 6 – 8


175 g (6 oz) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight

1 large garlic clove, peeled

6 tablespoons olive oil

900 g (2 lb) Swiss chard leaves, washed and large stems removed (set aside to use in the recipe)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 red onion, peeled and sliced

2 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces

1 head of celery outer stalks removed peeled and diced finely

2 dried chillies, crumbled

2 teaspoons of fresh picked thyme leaves

3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped

250 ml (8 fl oz) white wine

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

3 handfuls flat leaf parsley chopped

extra virgin olive oil


Drain the chickpeas and place in a saucepan with water to cover, add the garlic, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Keep in their liquid until ready to use. Blanch the chard leaves and chop coarsely. Chop the chard stalks into half inch pieces

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the onion and fry for a minute then season with salt and pepper. Put the lid on and cook for a further 20 minutes stirring frequently until they have completely collapsed.

Add the carrot, Chard stalks and celery cook slowly for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Season with salt, pepper and chilli. Add the garlic and thyme leaves. Cook for a further 5mins with the lid off. Pour in the wine and reduce almost completely. Add the tomato sauce and reduce until very thick. Add the chickpeas and mix. Season and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chopped chard leaves at the very end to retain their colour and freshness.

Chop the parsley just before you are about to serve, stir  into the chickpeas, drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.


JR’s Handmade Rose Water Marshmallows


The delegates at the Web Summit loved these homemade marshmallows which JR Ryall of Ballymaloe House made.



Makes approximately 100


455g (1lb) granulated or caster sugar

1 tablespoon liquid glucose

9 gelatine leaves or 5 1/2 rounded teaspoons of powdered gelatine

2 large egg whites

1 tablespoon good quality rose water

red food colour paste

4 tablespoons icing sugar and 4 tablespoons cornflour sieved together


Line the bottom of a 30 x 20cm (11 x 8 inch) baking tray with parchment paper. Dust with sieved icing sugar and cornflour.


Place sugar, glucose and 200ml (7fl oz) of water in a heavy bottom saucepan. Stir to ensure all of the sugar is wet. Using a pastry brush dipped water, remove any sugar crystals from the side of the saucepan. Place the saucepan on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling do not stir, simply tilt the pot from side to side to ensure the solution heats evenly until it reaches 127°C/260°F. It is important to keep an eye on the temperature using a sugar thermometer.


Meanwhile, rehydrate the gelatine in 140ml (4 3/4fl oz) water.


When the boiling syrup reaches 110°C/230°F start whipping the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.


Add the rehydrated gelatine and water into the syrup when it reaches 127°C/260°F and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will foam slightly, this is normal. Pour the hot syrup onto the egg whites and whip on full speed for 5-10 minutes until the marshmallow thickens and the bowl of the mixer is warm to the touch. Turn the speed of the mixer to low and whisk in the rosewater and enough food colour paste to turn the marshmallow baby pink.


Spoon the thick marshmallow mix onto the lined baking tray and smooth with a palette knife. Allow to set (usually takes 2 hours).


Dust the top of the marshmallow with the icing sugar and cornflour mix. Turn out onto a work surface, peel off the paper and cut into cubes. Roll each marshmallow in the cornflour and icing sugar mix to finish.



Ballymaloe Fudge

Fudge was also a huge hit at the Food Summit.

Makes 96 approx.


1/2 lb (225g) butter

2 lbs (900g) castor sugar

1 can evaporated milk

7 fl ozs (200ml) water

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Swiss roll tin 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33cm)


Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a low heat. Add the milk, water, sugar and vanilla extract and stir with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Turn up the heat to simmer, stir constantly until it reaches the ‘soft ball’ stage – 113°C/235°F.

To test, put some of the fudge in a bowl of cold water.

When ready pull off the heat. Stir vigorously until it thickens and reaches the required consistency – thick and sandy.   Sit the base of the saucepan into a sink of cold water to stop the cooking.  Pour into a Swiss Roll tin and smooth the surface with a spatula.

Allow to cool and then cut into squares before it gets completely cold.


Hot Tips

Ballyvolane House recent winner in the Sunday Times Ultimate 100 British and Irish Hotels is collaborating again with Theatre Makers Ltd. who brought Madame Chavelle to Ballyvolane last autumn. Playwright/actor/director Jack Healy will perform a one-man-show of the epic poem “The Great Hunger” by Patrick Kavanagh while guests eat a sumptuous dinner on Saturday, 16th  November in the old barn at Ballyvolane House – brilliantly entertaining evening. Phone +353 25 36349 to book tickets –

Some Winter Courses at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Garden Workshop: Creating a Fruit Orchard and Winter Pruning with Susan Turner Monday 25th November 9:00am to 2:00pm – Learn how to choose fruit varieties for successional cropping, good storage ability and reliable resistance against pests and diseases. Plant and stake a tree correctly. Understand the pollination requirements for fruit trees when choosing varieties. Identify the difference between fruit buds and vegetative buds. Understand the difference between summer and winter pruning. Formative pruning of newly planted trees Prune the cropping tree. Rejuvenate an old orchard. €95.00 Lunch included – phone 021 4646785 to book.

Sushi tastes great and it is quick to prepare, which makes it ideal and great fun for home entertaining. Sign up for a half-day course at Ballymaloe Cookery School with Darina Allen and Shermin Mustafa on Wednesday 27th November 9:30am to 2:00pm and learn how to prepare the more popular sushi dishes and how to make seven different types of sushi. Students will have the opportunity to taste all the Sushi prepared during the course. Lunch included. Phone 021 4646785 to book or



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