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Ode to Rory

Here is the first of what will probably be many odes to Rory O’ Connell, one of our cooking demonstration instructors. Rory (who is Darina Allen’s brother) started the school with Darina way back when. He is an amazing chef and lucky for me, an ideal cooking instructor.


He’s the kind of teacher that gets more and more excited about what he is doing as he is teaching us about it; he has very specific, helpful tips, and he has a brand of empathy for us novice cooks that manifests itself in humor and entertaining quips. Here’s some paraphrasing so you get the gist. (Some of these may fall into the “You had to be there” category.)

On peeling an apple: “The apple is not going to attack you, so there’s no reason for you to attack it.” [hilarious if you see how people first approach peeling in the kitchen.]

Rolling out pastry dough for a rustic peach tart: “Roll to the edge, but never over it…Don’t go over the edge!”

On chopping nuts, gathering them up in a thick line, then working your way down the line with our knife: “Psychologically, it is helpful. You feel like you are making progress.”

On making scones and the cycle of lifting your hands very high as you rub the butter into dry ingredients and drop it down again, then again lifting the buttered flour up, and dropping it down (kind of like making rain fall in short showers): “It makes quite a nice sound” [Then, a few minutes later, after dead silence and everyone listening to the sound of the flour dropping]… “though it may not be a good idea to tell people you like the sound.”

Of making short crust pastry: “Lining a quiche tin is potentially heartbreaking. Sometimes it WILL defeat you … but keep going.”

So true, Rory, so true. My first dish at Ballymaloe was a french onion tart, which involved lining a tin with my dough. It did work in the end, but it is striking how serious pastry is and how potentially heartbreaking. (I will save my metaphors for pastry and life for a weekend post…)

I’ll leave you with a few photos of what Rory made for us in demo last week.

First we have scones, literally called “Mummy’s Sweet White Scones”. Totally scrumptious split in half with a bit of whipped cream and homemade jam.


A basic tomato caprese salad, a cucumber, radish, feta, salad with nigella seeds and flat leaf parsley, and a rustic peach tart with summer berries:

The most delicious simple sausage pasta dish. When I made this after demo, I felt I had to do it just like Rory, drizzling chorizo oil on top at the end and sprinkling with parsley. So delicious. (More than a few students re-made this dish later in the weekend because it is so simple and delicious.)


One Response to “Ode to Rory”

  1. Diane C. says:

    I wish Rory was my instructor too!

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