A native of Dublin, Rachel left home at the age of eighteen to study at the world famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. To date, she has released five best selling cookery books (click here to view) and her very own cookery programme has been broadcast on RTE and BBC.
Between being a busy food journalist, writing for the Irish Tribune, and making frequent appearences on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, she still teaches at Ballymaloe, and we’re very grateful that she has taken time out of her hectic schedule for a short interview on the Curious Wines Blog.
1. Rachel, was there a defining point in your life when you decided a career in the business was for you, and how did you first make your break onto TV?
It was more of a gradual process, after doing the Cookery Course I worked in the kitchens at Ballymaloe for a little over a year. I loved working with food but then when I returned to the cookery school to train to become a teacher I found out what I really loved doing. Then about 9 or 10 years ago a producer was doing a course that I was teaching at the cookery school and suggested I help out on Tim’s bread programme and it grew from there.
2. How do you value your experience at Ballymaloe looking back and what were the most important lessons learned?
I value it hugely, the first thing Darina ever really told us was the importance of the ingredients themselves. That’s the most fundamental thing in food that can get forgotten.
3. How do you view wine as part of the culinary experience and what would be your preferred tipple?
I really enjoy having a glass of wine with food. When it comes to my preferred wine it varies hugely but recently I’ve been really enjoying rieslings.
4. You’re too much of a hard worker not to have something up your sleeve. Do you have any exciting plans for the coming year?
Just working on a new cookbook at the moment which will be filmed as a series as well and both will be released in autumn later this year.
5. Finally, if you had to choose one meal that would define your ultimate dining experience, starters, main course and dessert, what would it be?
There’s a certain time of year when different foods all coincide and are in season together. To start with I’d have a really simple heirloom tomato salad with basil and a great olive oil. Main course would be asparagus and some freshly dug new potatoes, all with wild Atlantic line caught salmon and lots of hollandaise sauce. For dessert I’d simply have some raspberries with sugar and cream and some buttery shortbread.
Thanks to Rachel & Josh Heller at Ballymaloe. All publications available at rachelallen.co.uk and from all good book stockists.
Have to say – my go-to dish to impress guests when I don’t have much time is Rachel’s Moroccan Chicken Tagine. From her early work, and what a winner.
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I’m going to track that one down, Paul. My girlfriend might well have that book in her locker. She got the ‘Entertaining’ one before Christmas. Seems to love it, although I haven’t looked through it properly myself just yet. They’re pretty accessible books though, not unlike Jamie Oliver (before he published 30 minute meals)