Biddy White Lennon, author, food writer and judge of the Great Irish Bake Off
I’ve done lots of things in my life. . . at four I began acting in theatre, film and TV, at 34 I started writing drama for radio and TV and writing on health, food and travel, writing and reviewing books, giving cookery demonstrations, judging everything from amateur drama to sausages, in between being a wife and mother.
I suppose I’m best known now for . . .food writing – 30 years ago, for acting in a popular TV drama series .
At the moment I’m working on. . . the proofs of a book called Wild Food (Nature’s Harvest. Gathering, Preserving and Cooking), to be published by O’Brien Press next February. Evan Doyle of the Strawberry Tree Restaurant has created 25 recipes for it.
We are both members of the Slow Food Sugar Loaf Convivium and our Wild Slow Festival 2012 is in preparation for November 10th and 11th. I’ve been asked to judge The Great Irish Bake Off for TV3 (due to be transmitted next spring).
Being back on TV will be about .. . enjoying the adrenaline rush a red light brings.
The people who take part in cookery competitions on TV are. . . brave.
As a judge, I am going to be. . . forthright yet gentle.
Baking is . .. a creative activity.
The best advice I’ve ever been given is. . . from Niall Tobin: “Don’t take the cap off your pen until you have a contract!”
If I wasn’t doing this . .. I would be gardening.
My great loves are. . . theatre, growing and cooking food.
The thing that I’m most proud of is . .. my one-year-old granddaughter, Georgina.
My earliest food memory is. . . gathering wild mushrooms.
The best thing I’ve ever eaten was . . .at 7am – noodles and tiny fish cooked in a vast wok, minutes after they were landed from day boats, at a quayside fishermen’s café in Thailand, where fish are landed to make traditionally fermented fish sauce.
My dream dinner party guests would be. . . family, friends, leavened by an intriguing stranger.
And I’d cook them. . . wild Irish fish, wild rock samphire and salads and fruit from the garden.
Five things I always have in my larder are. . . butter, preserved wild garlic in virgin olive oil, dry-cured smoked bacon, cream and wine.
My ideal day off is spent. . . in a sunlit garden, dreaming.
I’m passionate about. . . keeping Ireland free from GM crops.
I’m really good at .. . being tolerant.
I wish I was better at. . . painting.
I often imagine myself .. . being able to fly.
Not many people know this about me but. . . I can’t sing a note.
My guilty pleasure is. . . a glass of Vernaccia de San Giminiano.
In conversation with Marie-Claire Digby
Slow Food Ireland’s Wild Slow festival takes place on November 10th and 11th at Macreddin Village, Co Wicklow, wildandslow.com