regular | Litfest A Food and Drinks Literacy Festival at Ballymaloe

Ted Dinan is Professor of Psychiatry and a Principal Investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute at University College Cork. He was previously Chair of Clinical Neurosciences and Professor of Psychological Medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London.

Prior to that, he was a Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin. He has worked in research laboratories on both sides of the Atlantic and has a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Psychiatrists and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. His main research interest is in the role of the gut microbiota in stress related disorders. He has also worked extensively on the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

In 1995 was awarded the Melvin Ramsey Prize for research into the biology of stress. His current research is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board and European Union FP7.

He has published over 400 papers and numerous books on pharmacology and neurobiology. He is on the Editorial Boards of several journals.

Michael Kelly is a writer and founder of GIY and GROW HQ. He has written three books on food and self-sufficiency - his latest book GROW COOK EAT was a winner in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Michael is an Ashoka Fellow, a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland awardee and a recipient of the inaugural 2010 Arthur Guinness Fund. He is a member of the TASTE Council of Ireland and the Irish Food Writers Guild. He has written columns on food and health for The Irish Times, The Irish Independent and Food & Wine Magazine. Michael is a passionate speaker on food issues, self-sufficiency, sustainability and growing your own food. He worked for ten years in the IT industry in Dublin but now lives the good life in Dunmore East, Co. Waterford with his wife and two little GIYers. He grows his own food, often badly.
Charlotte Pike is a graduate of the Ballymaloe Certificate Course and is a UK based food writer.
Charlotte's fifth book, SMOKED, will be published in May 2017. Her last book, FERMENTED, was published in Summer 2015 and was shortlisted for the André Simon Award in January 2016. Her first three cookery books, The Hungry Student Cookbook series, were published simultaneously in August 2013 won best series at the International Gourmand Awards in January 2014.
Charlotte has contributed to many cookery books and publications by writing recipes and food styling and occasionally broadcasts on food on BBC Radio. Charlotte’s recipes are simple, delicious and really work. Always keen to share her knowledge, Charlotte’s writing aims to inform and clearly instruct, and she also works as one of the UK's leading Independent cookery teachers.
Charlotte studied French and Spanish at Exeter University and then went to work in the City of London before turning her love of good food and cooking into her career.
As a deeply passionate advocate of good food, home cooking and excellent ingredients, Charlotte spends much of her time travelling the world learning about and searching for the best food and drink out there.

Rebecca Sullivan is a self-taught cook and has worked with some of the world’s best food producers, academics, activists, and chefs. As a food curator, sustainable living advocate, Author, urban farmer and entrepreneur having recently founded Australian Native wellbeing brand Warndu with her Aboriginal partner Damien. Rebecca has worked on many a projects any food lover would envy, from launching the Real Food Festival in London to working on Slow Food Nation in San Francisco, farming coffee in Uganda to teaching scientists in the Maldives for the United Nations. 

Rebecca completed her Masters in International Rural Development and Sustainable Agriculture at the Royal Agricultural College in Gloucestershire, UK during which she focused on food security and a sustainable food future. Rebecca’s obsession with food began in Italy, so it followed course that she would become interested in the Slow Food Movement in which she spent years working with them in the UK organising events, campaigns and of course eating.

After a decade working overseas, she has re-settled back in Australia and has launched The Granny Skills Movement in Australia – a community-supported movement inspiring women to be more in touch with the land and old crafts, such as how to be a butcher, a baker or a candle stick maker. Protecting the skills, heritage and traditions of our elders. As well as consulting to organisations, running events, catering, education and strategy work in and around the food, environment and lifestyle sectors and sustainability. 

Rebecca’s second book, ’The Art of the Natural Home,’ will be launched at Litfest in 2017. Her first book 'Like Grandma Used to Make', came out in April 2013 with a huge amount of great press including being listed in the top ten books for Mothers Day in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and Woman’s Day. Wish Magazine in The Australian has called her " A veritable modern day Mrs Beeton.” She is writing her third book now, Cook & The Farmer in which all proceeds go to mental health awareness in rural Australia. In 2012, Rebecca signed on as a presenter on Love to Share on the TEN Network in Australia, has appeared regularly on Channel TEN’s The Circle and Breakfast Shows, as well as Channel Nine’s Morning and TODAY show. She is a popular presenter for her simple dishes, great advise and wonderful ideas for simple sustainable ideas we can all try at home. Rebecca is also an OZ Harvest, BALL USA and writes for Broadsheet, CityMag, SA Gardens, Sweet, Alquemie Magazine, NITV and ABC Organic Gardener to name a few. 

Christian Puglisi: One of Europe’s brightest young chefs, this half-Italian, half-Norwegian chef and co-patron of Copenhagen’s Relae and Manfreds og Vin, was also formerly sous chef at restaurant Noma and spent a season at elBulli. 
The restaurant Relae Manifest 'Relæ works on focused and tasty food, no muss, no fuss. Everything is cut to the bone, no frames but the few hanging on the walls. 
Simplicity with quality comes first, great details are just beneath. Its our choice to be certified organic, because its worth it. Wine? We pick ‘em naturally, You pour ‘em.'
[Photo: P.A. Jörgensen]

Michelle Darmody – author & publisher Michelle‘s love of baking began when a child in Cork.

Her mother‘s passion for baking guaranteed their home always smelt of freshly baked treats. Having graduated from art college and then traveling the world for a number of years, she returned to Ireland and then opened The Cake Café in Dublin in 2006. From the very start, it has gone from strength to strength, championing Irish food, and Dublin city itself. The Café's impact is wonderfully out of proportion to its handful of tables in its leafy courtyard location, and Michelle is regularly called upon by press and media for valued opinion, with her fresh contemporary attitude to working with food. The Cake Café was featured in Time Magazine, Travel and Leisure and The Food Network USA.

Michelle writes a weekly column in The Irish Examiner. The Café appears in The Bridgestone Guide, The Georgina Campbell Guide and The Dubliner’s 100 Best Restaurants for the past five years and is featured in Timeout magazines top 20 things to do on your visit to Dublin. The Cake Café won Most Innovative Restaurant in The Food and Wine Magazine Awards and has been listed in Vogue’s Secret List for London and Dublin.

Most recently, Michelle and The Café were the feature of an episode of Masterchef. Michelle's life is filled with a balance of family, friends, art, travel, music, parties, work — and plenty of good food. Sometimes all of these combine together like a perfect cake mix, which is a kind of an expression of the Café itself.


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.

Not excited by working in hotels in Ireland at the time, she came across an article in The Montreal Star about Mrs Allen and her family who were running a Country House on a farm in Co.Cork and she decided to set her sights on a getting a job at Ballymaloe. There was a photograph of Mrs Allen and her children in the paper that may have caught her attention.

Hazel penned a letter to Mrs Allen requesting an interview for a job at Ballymaloe House but initially failed to receive a response. She persevered and after a few false attempts to have an interview one day she found herself in the back of the car of the newly married Tim & Darina Allen when Darina invited her to stay at Kinoith for a couple of days.

Hazel eventually managed to meet Mrs Allen who invited her to come and help over Christmas as they were opening for Christmas that year. Mrs Allen had planned a trip to India in January and asked Hazel to stay and take the reservations while she was away. The rest is history, Hazel married Mrs Allen’s second son, Rory and eventually became the Managing Director of Ballymaloe House.

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.


Ger Buckley, Master Cooper, Midleton Distillery.

Irish Distillers’ Master Cooper Ger Buckley is a fifth generation Midleton cooper whose family have been making barrels for over 200 years. His passion stems not only from his family’s lineage, but also from his fascination with the varied attributes his preferred source material allows. As one of the country’s last Coopers, Ger has taken on an apprentice to protect this time-honored skill and pass it on to the next generation. This ancient craft and skill, dating back thousands of years will be expertly demonstrated by Ger, using barrels and the ancient tools that he still uses today.



Master of Maturation at Midleton Distillery.

As Head of Maturation at Midleton Distillery, Kevin’s role requires a great understanding of the wooden casks that the Irish whiskey matures in and the unique combination of flavours that can be achieved. The task of sourcing the casks used for maturing the raw spirit, smooth running of the maturation process and finally, tending to the product as it matures in the cask, is a group effort made lighter by the work of many hands, he believes.



Sally McKenna is a photographer, cookery editor, film-maker and the publisher of the McKennas' Guides, working from her office in West Cork. Her book Extreme Greens: Understanding Seaweed was described by BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme as “a new bible for seaweed cookery”. Winner of the first ever André Simon Special Award, she is currently working with Collins on a new guidebook to the whole of Ireland to be published in spring 2018.

McKennas’ Guides


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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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