regular | Litfest A Food and Drinks Literacy Festival at Ballymaloe
Claudia Roden was born in Cairo. She came to London to study art and stayed on when her family had to leave Egypt after the Suez crisis in 1956. Starting as a painter, she was drawn to the subject of food partly through a desire to evoke a lost heritage. She continued to write about food with a special interest in the social, cultural and historical background of cooking. She has written about the food of the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean, Italy and most recently, of Spain.
Roden has worked as a “gastronomic foreign correspondent” for several newspapers and presented the BBC TV series Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean Cookery. She has run cookery courses and worked to change the food in hospitals. Her recipes are used by chefs and restaurateurs and by catering schools all over the world.
The publication of A Book of Middle Eastern Food in 1968 is said to have revolutionised Western attitudes to the cuisines of the Middle East and North Africa. Its influence was recognised in 1992 when she received the Glenfiddich Trophy “In celebration of a unique contribution to the food that we eat in Britain today”. In the US, in 2010, the book was inducted in the James Beard Hall of fame for the influence it has had on food in America.
Roden has won many awards. The Book of Jewish Food won 8 international awards including the prestigious Prince Claus Award for Culture and Development in The Netherlands in recognition of “exceptional achievements in the field of cultural heritage”. In 2012 the Guild of Food Writers awarded her a Lifetime Achievement Award and she received the Johannes van Dam Award for Gastronomy in the Netherlands. Achievement Award for her contribution to Culinary Culture at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival 2014. She is an Honorary Fellow at UCL (University College London) and SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies)
Food writer, broadcaster and author Caroline Hennessy was one of Ireland’s first food bloggers, setting up the award-winning Bibliocook: All About Food in 2005. Together with Kristin Jensen, she started the Irish Food Bloggers Association in 2010 to promote food blogging and small Irish producers. A member of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild, a McKennas’ Guide Editor and a Ballymaloe graduate, she is devoted to exploring the intersecting worlds of Irish craft beer and fine Irish food.
She is the co-author, with Kristin Jensen, of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider (2014, New Island). An experienced public speaker, Caroline regularly curates, moderates and presents events that may involve any or all of the following: blogging and storytelling, craft beer, Irish cider, good food and cookbooks from around the world.

Rachel is the author of four best-selling cookery books, which include Rachel's Favourite Food at Home and Rachel's Food for Living. Her extremely popular television series for RTE and the BBC have been broadcast internationally and she frequently appears on BBC's Saturday Kitchen. Her charming manner and effortless style make her a delight to watch. Rachel is columnist and contributor to a number of Irish publications, including the The Sunday Tribune magazine, and is often featured in articles and interviews in the media.

Rachel's style of cooking is above all practical - simple but delicious food, ideal for family and friends. Her influences are both regional and global. The BBC describe her as an "Irish cooking queen" and Good Food magazine believe she "has put Irish cooking on the map in recent years". Rachel has a devoted fan base both in the UK and Ireland, and the popularity of her television programmes continues to rise.

Rachel lives in her seaside home in County Cork with her husband Isaac, sons Luka and Joshua and their daughter Scarlett.

Having spent more than twenty years cooking in the world's finest kitchens, Rory O'Connell is uniquely equipped to share his expertise and knowledge with others. Rory trained at Ballymaloe House with Myrtle Allen, the grand-dame of Irish country house cooking.

He then left East Cork for Paris, where he worked as part of the team charged with establishing the French outpost of Ballymaloe, La Ferme Irlandaise. On his return to Ireland, he began working with the Ryan brothers at the acclaimed Arbutus Lodge in Cork City, where he continued to expand his epicurean repertoire.

The urge to educate not just diners in the delights of great food but to share his skills with others lead him to found the Ballymaloe Cookery School with his sister, Darina Allen. The success of the school was widely publicised leading to Rory being called upon to style cookery books, TV shows and contribute to various international food publications. During this period, Rory worked with Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico, London and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons in Oxford.

His work has not solely been confided to the classroom or kitchen, being asked to act as a food ambassador for Ireland on many occasions. Rory has addressed both the hospitality and tourism industry at home and abroad in countries as diverse as Greece, South Africa, Italy, Denmark and Britain. In 1994, he returned to Ballymaloe House to begin a ten year tenure as Head Chef of the restaurant, a stay that won him much praise from patrons and peers alike. Including Hilary Rubenstein at The Good Food Guide remarking that Myrtle Allen was the original cook, but Rory O'Connell who wears the torque today is a worthy successor.

An opportunity to work with yet another great saw Rory leaving East Cork for Berkeley, California to join Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, a restaurant with a philosophy based on the strength of ingredients and cooking techniques that Rory both admired and already practiced through his continued involvement with Slow Food Ireland. Today however he can be found teaching at the Ballymaloe Cookery School while consulting for other restaurants throughout the country. His reputation as a food stylist regularly sees him working on photoshoots with other author's, publishers and magazines.

Rory's passion for refining not just our palate but how we prepare and cook food is still his priority. This inspired him to provide a wide range of bespoke cookery classes, catering for all levels and both groups and individuals, at his 18th century farmhouse near Shanagarry, in East Cork.

Rory's First Book "Master it: How to cook today" won the prestigious Andre Simon Award for best Cook Book 2013


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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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