First Encounters: Lynda Booth and Liz Quin
‘She’s always the first person I call to celebrate a moment or to get advice ’
Friends and collaborators Lynda Booth and Liz Quinn. Photograph: Alan Betson
Lynda Booth is a chef whose Dublin Cookery School, opened in 2007, was voted Best Cookery School in Ireland last year. Her book, ‘From Lynda’s Table’, was also published last November. Originally from Boyle, Co Roscommon, she lives in Blackrock, Co Dublin
“Our two sons, Cian and Sam, were hurtling around out in the cul-de-sac on rollerblades, and Liz ended up drifting into my kitchen. I proposed we’d cook together as I’m always trying to create new ideas, new recipes, for the cookery school. I was running classes from my house then.
“Liz has a wonderful approach to cooking: she has no interest in recipes – everything just evolves. I’d arrive laden with ingredients and a very specific idea of what I wanted to create. Liz would just grab a pot and hurl things into it. She’d start off with an idea that might evolve into something completely different. But she has a wonderful palate and a feel for food.
“There’d be so much laughter, so many distractions, we’d end up with all these dishes, eating much later than we’d planned, but it would be a great spread of food. We’d be cooking for family, friends . . . we both collect people to feed – we just love cooking for a gang. It’s so relaxing to cook with somebody. It takes the stress out of cooking. When we’re on holidays, we cook together, go to markets, just love wandering up and down stalls finding produce and then go home thinking, What’ll we create with this?
“I have no interest in fashion. What’s wonderful about Liz is that she’s completely relaxed about what she wears, what anybody else wears . . . The odd time she’d throw me a shirt or two, but I think she’s given up on me. When I was writing From Lynda’s Table , I had the brainwave that I’d do the food styling with Liz. She loved the idea, suggested we do all the food photography in her house and said, ‘I’ll approach it as I do my fashion collection. I’ll have a storyboard around every photograph.’ I got a glimpse inside Liz’s world an appreciation into the creativity that went behind her work.
“I suppose the wonderful thing about a friendship that’s lasted over so many years is that you’ve shared so many life experiences together and you’ve also gone through troubles together. She’s always the first person I call to celebrate a moment or to get advice on something I’m having difficulty with. I can’t imagine life without that.
“When I go away with her I always feel about 30 years younger. She brings a lot of fun to my life.”
Lynda Booth is giving a demonstration at The Tannery Cookery School today at 2.30pm as part of the programme for the West Waterford Festival of Food, which takes place this weekend
Liz Quin is a fashion designer who co-founded the fashion brand Quin & Donnelly after graduating from Grafton Academy. The business closed in 2011 after 30 years and she recently launched her own label, Liz Quin. She is from Dublin and lives in Blackrock
“I vividly remember meeting Lynda, probably because I find her incredibly effervescent. It was around 15 years ago. We live near each other in Blackrock, and my son Sam and hers, Cian, were friends. They loved rollerblading in her cul-de-sac. I just immediately liked her.
“Very soon after, we discussed the fact that we both loved cooking. Sam wanted to stay there all night, I felt I was dragging him away on a lovely summer’s evening, and Lynda came up with the idea: why don’t we cook together? Then we could be cooking and chatting while the boys were still playing, and both families could sit down and have a lovely meal. I did know that she ran a cookery school and was very honoured that she invited me to do this. She told me that her son, who’d had dinner in my place, was raving about my lasagne – I think he was just starving.
“We’d cook together once a weekend. Being a working mum you don’t want to spend your weekends away from your children, so combining a gorgeous evening and dinner, chatting to my friend while not being away from the children, was fantastic.
“Cooking for me has always been totally relaxing, but I’m completely the opposite to Lynda. I rarely make a shopping list and hardly look at a recipe. What attracted me to Lynda was the fact that she was very busy, super at multitasking, yet still had time to have a laugh.
“When I’m going to a fashion capital on business, I’ll ask Lynda to come along. Having dragged her around boutiques to look at fashion, knowing she’s completely bored, she does perk up at the idea that we’re then going to go to a wonderful restaurant that she has sought out.
“Quin & Donnelly ceased trading after 30 years in a dispute with its then manufacturer over the trademark. Going from being incredibly busy to nothing overnight, in 2011, was a big shock. I took some time out, woke up one morning, decided: this is it.
“Having spent many years in a happy partnership, I’ve just launched my own label, Liz Quin. Lynda has been a pillar of strength. Being a businesswoman, she understood what losing my own business meant to me. She’s an incredible friend, and was very generous with her time when I really needed a chat – just very supportive and encouraging. She backed me up to make me get out there again.
“As a friend, she has everything one could ask for, this incredible fun and effervescent side to her, plus real stability.”