The countdown is on for Ballymaloe’s Litfest


If you want to see Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi cooking up a Middle Eastern feast, or go foraging with René Redzepi and Alys Fowler, unfortunately you’re too late. But there are plenty of events still with ticket availability for next week’s Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine (May 16th-18th), from three-hour demonstrations in the cookery school to panel discussions, book readings and wine tastings.

There are more than 60 speakers involved and 70 events to choose from and in excess of 10,000 visitors are expected at the event, which takes place at venues in and around Ballymaloe House and Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork. Some events are free to attend, and there is also a lively fringe festival programme.

Big ticket of the weekend, still with availability (at time of writing) is Diana Kennedy’s Mexican cookery demonstration on Saturday morning (10am-1pm, €95). The James Beard Foundation in New York this week named the 91-year-old author of 11 books as a member of its prestigious Cookbook Hall of Fame.

Kennedy, who has lived in Mexico since she arrived there in 1957 to marry New York Times correspondent Paul P Kennedy, recently announced that she is establishing the Diana Kennedy Centre, an ecological and culinary research project, at her home, Quinta Diana, in Michoachán. In addition to the practical demo, Kennedy will join in a group discussion on Forgotten Skills, and will give a talk on Mexican food (which is free to attend but tickets must be reserved).

There are also tickets still available for demonstrations by Australian food writer and restaurateur Maggie Beer; Chapter One chef proprietor Ross Lewis together with Rachel Allen; Ballymaloe past pupils Clodagh McKenna, Lily Higgins and Jordan Bourke, and a trio billed as “RTÉ’s Finest” – Paul Flynn, Catherine Fulvio and Martin Shanahan.

Joanna Blythman and Ella McSweeney will be talking to John Mckenna on the topic of “Good fats/bad fats: The big debate”. Tom Parker Bowles will be part of a stellar group discussing “Books for Cooks”, along with Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, authors of the of Canal House Cooking series of books in the US, and UK chef, food writer and TV presenter Simon Hopkinson.

Entrance to the Big Shed, where the fringe festival will be based, is unrestricted (cover charge €5), so while you might not get to see Yotam Ottolenghi whip up a Middle Eastern feast, you could quite possibly bump into him here, exploring what’s on offer at the local and artisan food stalls. There will also be a bar, and Ivan’s Restaurant, which will serve dinner at communal tables every evening.

See for the full programme and ticket availability.
For car-pooling, travel plans and accommodation see the Litfest forum on

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