regular | Litfest A Food and Drinks Literacy Festival at Ballymaloe
“Standard bearer for the natural wine movement, Legeron is one of the 50 most powerful women in wine” (Drinks Business)
As France’s only female Master of Wine, and one of only 354 MWs worldwide, Isabelle's wine life started very classically indeed. Winner of the Madame Bollinger award for Excellence in Tasting, and the Villa Maria award for Viticulture, she was also named 'Wine Woman of the Year' in Paris.
Several years back, however, she decided to help people think about what they drink and promote transparency in the wine world, which lead her to create RAW WINE, the UK’s largest artisan wine fair, which has since expanded to include an annual event in Berlin and New York. Described as ‘the fair of note for artisan and natural wines’ by El Mundo and by Ottolenghi as ‘showing the world the right approach to wine’, RAW WINE today leads the charge globally for greater transparency in the world of wine. A huge advocate of organic farming practices, Isabelle does not sit on the fence. For her, the world's best wines are natural and that is all she personally drinks. Isabelle’s day job sees her consulting for the 2-Michelin starred Hibiscus in Mayfair, as well as the Borough Market local, Elliot’s, and The Richmond in Hackney.
She has hosted her own TV shows – including THAT CRAZY FRENCH WOMAN and Journey into Wine, four seasons of which were broadcast on Travel Channel to some 120 countries in 20 different languages.
Her work in wine has also seen her founding the wine school at Divertimenti on Marylebone High Street, which she ran for 10 years; helping to revamp the wine offering at Soneva Fushi, an eco-luxury resort in the Maldives; designing the drinks programme for the exclusive eco-resort Kittitian Hill in St Kitts and founding Bacchanalia, a private members wine club and investment portfolio for a select group of management consultants, lawyers, bankers and energy professionals in the City.
Isabelle is a contributor to Decanter magazine and several other international publications. Her first book, Natural Wine: an introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally was published by RPS CICO in the US and UK in July 2014 and was shortlisted for the Fortnum & Mason Best Drinks Book as well as the Louis Roederer and André Simon awards.
Brian McGinn executive produces and directs the Emmy-nominated, James Beard award-winning Netflix series CHEF’S TABLE, which he developed with David Gelb. A spinoff of the show, CHEF’S TABLE: FRANCE, premiered in September 2016.
His feature film debut, the Netflix Original Documentary AMANDA KNOX, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016. It was named a NY Times Critic’s Pick, an LA Times Critic’s Choice and one of the '10 Best Films at the Toronto International Film Festival' by Variety.
He has also been a contributor to McSweeney’s and The New Yorker.
Andy Ferreira is a bartender from Cork. He has travelled the world bartending and is the manager of Cocktail Bar 'Cask'. His events and consultancy company Raise the Bar places a big emphasis on farm to glass cocktails and whenever possible they use locally foraged ingredients. He met his Celtic counterpart 'Chemical Ally', Kelsey while working on the Jameson Bartender Academy.
Expect lots of friendly Celtic banter while Andy Ferreira and Ally Kelsey take you on a Cocktail adventure at Litfest 2017
Garrett and James 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.
Jacob is a chef & restaurateur in London. He was born here in 1980, and trained at Moro (London) and Boulevard (San Fransisco).
He created and works as chef/patron at Bocca di Lupo, Gelupo and VICO.
He opens a pub serving Cajun & Creole cuisines this Autumn, Plaquemine Lock, in Angel by the canal.
He has written two cookbooks, The Geometry of Pasta and BOCCA. One day he hopes to write another one.
Sally grew up in Guildford, Surrey and after school, studied Hotel and Catering management at Croydon College, followed by 1 year in Paris at the Cordon Bleu. During this time she also worked as an unpaid commis chef in 3 different restaurants.
Back in London, she worked for Prue Leith, both in her catering business and as a teacher at Leith's School of Food and Wine.
From 1979 Sally lived and worked in California, at Michael's Restaurant and the West Beach Cafe, learning both kitchen and dining room skills. It was during this time that she met Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, who became a friend, and subsequently her mentor. Alice continues to be her inspiration on a daily basis.
In 1984 she opened Clarke's Restaurant on Kensington Church Street, offering daily-changing menus, and what was to become her famous 'no choice menu' set dinner. Every night her customers were offered a four course menu, which offered the best and the freshest from the market of that day. Still now, the menus are constantly changing, showcasing the seasonal changes throughout the year.
In 1989, her provisions shop next door opened its doors, offering freshly baked goods from the restaurant kitchens. Following the rapid success of both the restaurant and the shop, the Sally Clarke Wholesale Bakery was born. Situated in North Kensington, it now supplies over 100 customers on a daily basis with breads, croissants, tarts, cakes and chocolate truffles.
The Production Kitchen opened a few years ago, creating all the takeaway items for the Sally Clarke shop, including soups, chicken pies, souffle Suissesse, salads, ready meals and much more.
1999 saw the publication of her first book, "Sally Clarke's Book, recipes from a Restaurant, Shop and Bakery" and in 2015, her 2nd book, "30 Ingredients" was published by Francis Lincoln celebrating the restaurant's 30 years.
In 2009 she was awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list for services to the hospitality industry.
She works within the restaurant, shop, bakery and production kitchen and can be seen most days in the dining room, the shop and the kitchens.
Clare Lattin started her career in book publishing, latterly at Quadrille where she worked for 10 years as head of publicity, overseeing PR campaigns for all their major cookery books. It was during this period that her passion for the food scene became obsessive and she met the characters who put her on the path to opening her own restaurant. Clare also is the co-founder of Eightyfour, a small PR agency specialising in restaurant and food brands.
Tom Hill’s love of cooking began as a child in the kitchen with his mother. Today, as a professional chef, he is executive chef of Ducksoup and co-proprietor of Rawduck. Tom has worked with a number of leading lights in the restaurant industry. He has managed the kitchens for Mitch Tonks of Fish Works, Mark Hix of Hix Restaurants and Ed Wilson of Terroir and Brawn.

Called 'Ireland’s top cookbook editor', Kristin Jensen is a freelance writer and editor who specialises in cookbooks and recipes. She has edited over 50 cookbooks, is the subeditor for several recipe magazines and has worked with many of Ireland’s best-known chefs and authors. Kristin is also the co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider (2014) and the secretary of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild.

Monika Linton is the Founder of Brindisa Ltd and Co-Founder of its sister company, Brindisa Kitchens.
Brindisa is an importer, wholesaler and retailer of Spanish foods; while Brindisa Kitchens is a group of Spanish restaurants in London and Barcelona. Monika maintains a hands-on approach in both companies, as Chair and Food Director of Brindisa and Brindisa Kitchens. The name Brindisa comes from the Spanish word, “brindis”, the act of raising your glass, and both companies celebrate the very best Spanish food.
Monika’s love of foreign foods and culture was inspired from an early age in her birthplace, Africa. The exotic sights, sounds and smells of the local markets fascinated her throughout her early childhood and teens and were a stark contrast to life back at home in the U.K. Her expatriate upbringing was due to the international nature of her father’s job and opened her eyes to different ways of life. Her business instinct and tenacity was in part inspired by her family background of travel and entrepreneurship.
The road to Spain started with the choice of Spanish as a second language at school, which she continued to study at university level, reading Modern Iberian and Latin American Studies (including Spanish language) at University College London. As a student, she lived for a year in Peru, and took holiday work hop-picking and harvesting in the Hampshire countryside. After university, she worked as a commis chef and then an English teacher in Catalonia. During these formative three years, working in the restaurant kitchens and immersed in daily life in northern Spain, she discovered and fell in love with Iberian food culture and ingredients.
On her return to the U.K., Monika was keen to use her Spanish language, yet was unsure of a career path to follow. However, she realised that the ingredients and flavours she had been enjoying in Spain were almost unheard of in the U.K. and that perhaps there was an opportunity for a business introducing them to the English market. Monika set up the legal entity, Brindisa Ltd, in 1988, with the idea of sending a single pallet with Spanish wines and cheese to London.
Monika quickly realised that wine was already a developed sector, however Spanish cheeses were completely unappreciated in the U.K. at that time. This was a defining moment for her and the future direction of the company. She was drawn to the earthiness of cheese and the strong links to the land, animals and people that produce it.
Monika’s first selection of cheeses caught the attention of some of the best chefs in London, who appreciated their unique tastes and artisan production and were doing something quite avant-garde at that time, putting their faith into Brindisa’s pioneering product range. Delis and food halls became interested and with more customers came more demand for Spanish products. Monika was able to seek out and supply many of the products she had come to know during her time in Catalonia and travelling around Spain.
By 1998, Monika’s wholesale business had been trading for a decade and had established a name for quality Spanish foods. She was based in a warehouse on the edge of Borough Market, which at that time was a purely wholesale fruit and veg market. It was initially with some open-warehouse evenings and some link-ups with other wholesalers based near the market that Monika’s retail adventure began. These warehouse openings created a buzz and people began to see the potential for a retail market at Borough. Monika was therefore fundamental in the change and regeneration of the market and Brindisa has had a hugely popular shop there ever since.
Furthermore, the wholesale business now provides hundreds of products to many of the country’s finest restaurants, delis and food halls and Brindisa’s distribution centre in Balham, includes cheese maturing rooms and optimal storage conditions for Ibérico meats.
It was always Monika’s dream to put Brindisa’s foods onto a plate alongside a glass of wine and to open a restaurant that would showcase her range and also bring many new Spanish foods to the table in the U.K. In 2004 she co-founded Brindisa Kitchens, opening a thriving tapas restaurant on the edge of Borough Market. In 2008 and 2013, two new restaurants were opened in South Kensington and Soho, followed by branches in Shoreditch and Piccadilly. The latest addition to the group is La Bellvitja, a restaurant based in the heart of Barcelona’s El Raval area, neighbouring the Boqueria market. Each of them is unique, conceptualised by Monika and her colleagues, with individual menus and interior décor.
Monika has now been running her import, wholesale and retail company for 28 years, and her restaurant business for 12 years. She lives in South London with her partner Rupert, their teenage son and daughter, and family dog.

Karen Leibowitz is a writer and a restaurant person whose most recent project is The Perennial, an environmentally sustainable restaurant and bar in San Francisco. She's also a partner in Mission Chinese Food and Commonwealth and co-author of Atelier Crenn: The Metamorphosis of Taste(2015) with Chef Dominique Crenn and Mission Street Food: Recipes and Ideas from an Improbable Restaurant (2011).

Her writing has been published by Food & Wine, The New York Times, Lucky Peach, Modern Farmer, Cherry Bombe, and other publications.


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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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