Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and at eighteen left to study at the prestigious Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork. Today, she not only teaches at the school but writes regular features for national publications, presents highly acclaimed TV programs and writes UK bestselling cookbooks. Currently, her TV show BAKE is shown on The Cooking Channel, and her new cookbook, Rachel’s Irish Family Food: 120 Classic Recipes from My Home to Yours is available from HarperCollins on February 19. Rachel lives near the sea in County Cork, Ireland with her husband and three beautiful children.
What is your current state of mind?
Your greatest extravagance?
Food. And the odd pair of fabulous shoes!
Who is your hero?
What is on your bedside table?
A lot of books that I’ll read when I get the time.
What was your first job?
Working in my mum’s boutique, which was a great Saturday job when I was a teenager.
Your earliest memory?
Standing on a chair baking with my big sister and my mum.
Best advice ever received?
You won’t shine any brighter by blowing out someone else’s flame.
Long plane rides – do you chat?
No, I love to take the time to think and to read one of the books from the pile beside my bed.
Your hidden talent?
It’s hidden from me too if I have one!
Where do you go to think?
I run on the beach by our house in County Cork.
Qualities you seek in friends?
Loyalty and a great sense of fun.
Your typical day?
I don’t have one. One day I might be testing and writing recipes at home in the morning before giving an afternoon demonstration at Ballymaloe Cookery School, then heading home to cook supper and get our children’s homework finished. The next day could see me getting up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the first flight to London for a day of filming before catching the evening flight home to a supper with my family cooked by my husband.
Your perfect day?
Skiing on a sunny mountain with my husband and children with a delicious mid-piste Alpine lunch.
Favorite travel destination?
I’m so fortunate with my job that I do get to travel a lot and there are so many places in the world I have yet to see, so my favorite travel destination is always the next one on the list!
Best opening in a piece of music?
“Under Pressure” by Queen.
Favorite film clip?
I loved the opening sequence to the latest James Bond film Skyfall.
What drives you?
It doesn’t take much to drive me, I’m quite naturally driven and full of energy.
Most embarrassing moment?
Most embarrassing moment? I was giving a demonstration for 200 people in Singapore last September and I preheated my frying pan for too long, so when I added in the eggs for my omelette the pan went on fire! Luckily we put it out quickly, but it was quite embarrassing.
Back home on the farm at Ballymaloe in Ireland.
Happy chatter with friends and family around our kitchen table at home.
Roast chicken cooking away in the oven. It always reminds me of home.
Most frequently used spice?
The spice I love to use most has got to be cumin, in everything from cooling cucumber raita to roast leg of lamb.
What’s your go-to comfort food?
Roast chicken, see above.
A great gin and tonic with a slice of cucumber and lime.
How have the last few years affected Ireland’s “food revolution”?
There’s been a huge rise in fantastic artisan food producers and even more emphasis on eating local and being proud of our wonderful produce.
How many cooks in the kitchen is too many?
I’m good with working in a team, so once there’s enough space (and not too many egos!) then the more the merrier.
What question do you wish someone would ask you?
Would you like a free ticket to the Bahamas?
What are you working on?
A new book all about great nutritious food which is set for release in September 2013.
What’s your most distinguishing characteristic?
People say I’m bubbly, so maybe that!
What do you deplore in others?
Lack of manners.
What’s your motto?
The glass is always half full.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you are doing?
What are you like?
I hope I’m a great wife, loving mother and loyal friend.