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 soley been confided to the classroom or kitchen, being asked to act as a food ambassador for Ireland on many occassions. 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 practised through his continued involvment 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 palletes 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.