The Business of Food | Litfest A Food and Drinks Literacy Festival at Ballymaloe

The Business of Food - Hospitality consultant, Blathnaid Bergin discusses the business of food with Brother Hubbard cafe owners Garrett Fitzgerald and James Boland, Ballymaloe House general manager, Hazel Allen and Ballyvolane Guest House owner and distiller, Justin Green.

Blathnaid Bergin, a hospitality consultant, is ideally positioned to discuss the tricky business of food with some of the country’s most recognised industry names.

Hazel  Allen ( Lalor ) , comes from a farming family in County Laoise. She was educated at Glengara Park School , in Dun Laoghaire , Co. Dublin  and studied Hotel Management in Cathal Brugha Street , Dublin. She completed her practical training in Post Hotels in Switzerland and after graduating worked in Montreal before returning to Ireland.

After many years of running Ballymaloe House she has now passed this role to Myrtle Allen’s grandson, Sacha Whelan. Although she has stepped back, Hazel continues to be part of the management team at Ballymaloe House as well as running the farm cottages and Ballymaloe Grainstore with her husband, Rory Allen.

Garrett Fitzgerald and James Boland are both graduates of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Having left their comfortable Celtic Tiger jobs at the height of the boom, seeking something different for their lives, they spent 3 wonderful months in Shanagarry with Darina and her team, before heading off into the sunset for 2 years on a food adventure.

A year in Melbourne, working in its thriving café scene to gain experience was followed by 4 months in the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel) to learn more about the authentic flavours and experiences of that wonderful cuisine.

On returning home, with the economy having dramatically changed in their absence, they bravely set about opening up a new type of café for Dublin. Determined to offer an exciting but value driven experience, Brother Hubbard opened its doors in March 2012 on Dublin’s Capel Street. A sibling café soon followed for Dublin’s southside.

With a fresh, vibrant and pure approach to its food, Brother Hubbard has grown from a small café employing 2 staff to an exciting and diverse undertaking, serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and now employing over 60 staff.

Fiercely independent, quality focused, with a creative, pure and innovative Middle Eastern-influenced menu, their business is constantly evolving and has gained quite the following.

The Brother Hubbard Cookbook was published in 2016 to capture the ethos of Garrett, James and the team at the cafes.


Justin Green grew up at Ballyvolane House when it was an active dairy farm and spent many a school holiday milking cows, driving tractors, feeding animals and digging holes. In the mid-1980’s, Justin’s parents, Jeremy and Merrie, opened the house to Paying Guests or PG’s as they were known then. The focus then shifted from farming to hotel-keeping and good authentic food was always at the forefront of the business. This, along with a fondness for Fawlty Towers, Justin’s career path was decided and he was accepted into the Shannon College of Hotel Management. After graduation, Justin spent a many of years working in Asia in some of the swankiest hotels in the world such as the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, The Legian in Bali and The Jumeirah Beach in Dubai. In 2000, Justin moved back to Ireland with his wife Jenny, where he managed Browne’s Brasserie & Townhouse in Dublin. In 2002, he moved across the pond to work with Soho House as General Manager of Babington House in Somerset. Justin & Jenny took over the reins of Ballyvolane House from Justin’s parents in 2004 following the passing away of Merrie. Having watched the ‘gin space’ for a number of years, Justin realised gin was having a bit of moment. Bertha was born!


Time: 12.30pm-13.30pm
Date: Sunday 21st May
Venue:The Carriguan Room
Price: €16


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About Litfest

Litfest - A Food and Drinks Literacy Festival at Ballymaloe is a weekend filled with fascinating facts, inspirational stories, intriguing discussions, incredible knowledge, fantastic music, fabulous dancing and of course, delicious food and drinks.
It is the only festival of its kind in Ireland and has created an important hub for food and drinks enthusiasts worldwide to meet and share ideas with each other.

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