LitFest 2017: A Food and Drinks Literacy Festival at Ballymaloe - 2015 Ballymaloe Litfest - Big ShedFive years. Five years of learning and cooking and growing and inspiration and bringing the best of the world’s food writers to East Cork.

Five years of the Ballymaloe LitFest.

That’s where I’ve been moved by René Redzepi‘s passion, fascinated with Claudia Roden‘s piecing together of food history, discovered that there’s more to cabbages than you might imagine if Sandor Katz gets hold of them, been slightly afraid of Diana Kennedy, discovered the importance of the hive mind from Alys Fowler and had Garrett Oliver raise the bar for beer.

It’s a spot to meet friends, to make new ones, to get exciting ideas, to stand in a queue for a desperately needed flat white from Badger & Dodo and discover that you’re next to your cookbook hero. It’s a fabulous pantry of ideas, stuffed with inspirational speakers, incredible cooks and opinionated drinks writers.

This year, top of my list is the legendary Claudia Roden, doyenne of Middle Eastern cookery, and I’m also hoping to catch Chef’s Table producer and director Brian McGinnMargot Henderson of Rochelle Canteen in London’s Clerkenwell, Bocca di Lupo chef / patron Jacob Kennedy in conversation with BBC Radio 4 presenter Sheila Dillon and Christian Puglisi‘s intriguing Farm of Ideas.

On the Irish side, there’s Trish Deseine talking about Irish food culture in Home-ness, Urru’s Ruth Healy and Peter Ward from Country Choice at The Great Grocers- Sourcing the best ingredients, the Brother Hubbard boys – Garrett Fitzgerald and James Boland – on the Business of Food and don’t miss Kristin Jensen discussing Irish beer and cider in the Drinks Theatre.


Responsibility is a theme for 2017, our responsibility to the world around us as food lovers, as cooks and as consumers. Every shopping trip, every mouthful is a political act – make it count by getting informed. Like last year, the Grainstore will host a weekend-long symposium on Our Responsibility with talks, short films and presentations; speakers include EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, investigative food journalist Joanna Blythman, Condé Nast Traveler’s David Prior and Karen Leibowitz of environmentally sustainable restaurant and bar The Perennial. - Ballymaloe Litfest 2016 - big shed

And then there’s the Big Shed. Rammed with the best of food producers and great Irish drinks offerings, during the day it’s a chilled out space for socialising and eating and meeting and dropping on on informal talks. Come night time, it’s party central – make sure you bring your dancing shoes! That’s where I’ll be this year, MC-ing a packed line up of speakers (and getting some dancing in too). Admission to all fringe events, which includes the Big Shed, is just €5 per day, kids under 12 are free.

Just in case your appetite needs whetting, take a listen to my six-course tasting menu of last year’s speakers with Eric Werner, Ramal Scully, Francis Mallmann, Jeremy Lee and Elizabeth Luard.

Five years. Bring on the next five!

This year, you’ll find me MC-ing the Demonstration Stage in The Big Shed on Saturday. There’s a cracking line up there so make sure you drop by and say hi. You’ll find us near the food…

11.00 Ballymaloe Classic Techniques Ballymaloe Classic Techniques with Anne Healy- How to make traditional Irish Soda Bread  
13.00 Blind Tasting with Cully and Sully Blind Tasting with Cully and Sully  
14.30 The Aztec Life Hack with My Goodness The Aztec Life Hack with My Goodness. Donal will make a beautiful wooden tortilla press while Virginia explains how Aztec sustainable crop growing is relevant to modern nutrition  
15.00 Preparing a Rack of Lamb Ballymaloe Classic Techniques with Tom Casserley – Preparing a Rack of Lamb  
15.30 Wine’s New Trends with Fionn Little Wine’s New Trends with Fionn Little, Sommelier of Rachel’s Restaurant, Cork  
15.45 Japanese Food Made Easy Fiona Uyema, author of cookbook “Japanese Food Made Easy” and owner of “Fused by Fiona Uyema”, will demonstrate how to make a variety of sushi rolls using local Irish produce  
16.15 The Art of Knife Making The Art of Knife Making with Fingal Ferguson, Gubbeen, Schull  
16.30 Filleting Fish Ballymaloe Classic Techniques with Jason Fahy – Filleting Fish  
17.00 Blind tasting with Cully & Sully Blind tasting with Cully & Sully

On Sunday, I’ll be participating in a debate in The Garden Tent, which may be of interest to all my fellow bloggers.

16.00 – 16.45 Flogging or blogging? Hosted by The Irish Food Writers’ Guild, chaired by Ross Golden-Bannon, with Caroline Hennessy of the famed Bibliocook blog and Michael Lee, assistant CEO of the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

More LitFest Listening
2016 Listen: Ballymaloe Litfest 2016
2015: Listen: Garrett Oliver at Ballymaloe Litfest
2014: Listen: Culture File – Diana Kennedy at Ballymaloe Litfest
2014 Listen: Nick Strangeway at Ballymaloe Litfest
2014 Listen: Culture File – The Butter Vikings at Ballymaloe LitFest
2014 Listen – Culture File: Alys Fowler’s Letters to a Beekeeper
2014 Listen: René Redzepi at Ballymaloe LitFest – Bibliocook
2013 Lyric fm: Claudia Roden – and Ballymaloe Litfest
2013 Listen: Culture File – Fermentation guru Sandor Katz



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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