Award winning cookery author, chef and co-founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, Rory O’Connell will join the Electric Picnic’s Theatre of Food from 1-3rd September 2017.
Where do you shop?
At the Ballymaloe Cookery School shop, Midleton Farmers Market and The English Market in Cork city. If I am going to West Cork I might stop at Urru in Bandon or Skibereen Farmers Market.
Can you list the contents of your weekly shop?
Extra virgin olive oil
Fingal Ferguson’s chorizo
Locally sourced meat from Frank Murphy in Midleton
Organic chicken from Mary Regan
Homegrown herbs and vegetables make shopping easier.
Describe your typical breakfast
Organic yoghurt with hazelnuts and honey. I sometimes soak oats and mash in fruit to make an instant muesli. Coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. At the weekend I have rashers from Woodside Farm and eggs from Ballymaloe.
Describe your typical lunch
My lunch varies as I often eat at the Cookery School where the menu changes each day. I am utterly spoiled and try not to take my good fortune in the area of food for granted. It might be a little meat, fish or poultry but regardless, I will have any green vegetable that is on offer, a salad of leaves and a half portion of pudding.
I always have vegetables or a salad of leaves and local Ballycotton potatoes. Fish is my first choice and if the mackerel is in season I might have it three evenings in a row. Sometimes dinner might be a couple of boiled eggs with brown soda bread and butter — heaven!
I don’t snack that much but if peckish, a fistful of nuts or raisins or some prunes fill a gap.
Is there anything you won’t eat?
I eat it all with the exception of brains.
What would you cook to impress someone?
The quality of the ingredients I cook with are the shortcut to impressing a guest. So if it is lobster – an impressive ingredient – then it will be a simple preparation with beautiful Irish butter, herbs from the garden and a few drops of lemon juice. A perfect slice of beef might be licked with a small amount of a carefully made red wine sauce. Oysters might have an Asian-influenced dressing with lemongrass, chilli, coriander and lime leaves all of which I grow on my windowsill.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
I have a weakness for the odd Jaffa Cake.
What is your ultimate comfort food?
A boiled egg with brown soda bread and butter or a stew my mother taught all eight of my siblings to make, that we called “Scalloped Potatoes”. It reminds us always of that wonderful woman.
What is your favourite takeaway?
I am open-minded about this question and if the quality is good I will eat almost anything. If I had to choose a single area, it would be Indian food.
Have you tried any diet fads in the past six months?
What would be your Last Supper?
A very good bottle of red wine.
I love to see Rory’s appreciation of good quality, fresh wholesome food with an emphasis on flavour over fussy or processed ingredients. There can be too much of a focus on complicating foods and numerous companies trying to sell us various processed snacks, shakes, bars and powders, when simplicity really is the key to a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Plus you know exactly what’s going into your meals when you concentrate on one-ingredient foods.
Rory’s weekly shopping list shows a focus on animal protein foods and fresh fruit, while he sources his vegetables and herbs from the garden. He’s very fortunate to have access to organic homegrown produce, and it really is the best way to enjoy seasonal plant-based foods. It’s great to see that he avoids processed foods in his shop and isn’t tempted by fatty or sugary snacks. He buys olive oil and oily fish each week, but I would encourage Rory to consider buying flaxseed, hemp seeds, chia seeds or walnuts to include in breakfasts or snacks to avail of their omega-3 fats and fibre.
For breakfast, Rory eats organic yoghurt with hazelnuts and honey or else makes his own version of muesli. Both can be really good options, providing plenty of nutrients for support energy levels all morning. I would encourage him to ensure that his yoghurt is free from added sugar and to even consider Greek yoghurt, as it’s higher in protein. He may want to add some ground flaxseed to his breakfast too, as it would boost the essential fatty acid balance of his morning meal. Creating your own muesli is a brilliant idea, as so many shop-bought versions can contain added refined sugar and syrups.
As he admits, Rory is very fortunate to be able to enjoy lunch each day at Ballymaloe cookery school and he chooses a nutritious meal of protein and vegetable to support his energy for the afternoon. However, if he is particularly busy or active, I would suggest he adds a source of complex carbs to his lunch as it’s best to eat energy-boosting foods in the first half of the day. Butternut squash, sweet potato, brown rice and quinoa are all fibre-rich, nourishing options.
Rory tends to go for a half portion of dessert after his lunchtime meal, and while sweet treats are very much a part of a balanced lifestyle, I would encourage him to think about having pudding a couple of times a week rather than making it a daily habit. Although he limits his portion size, having the hit of refined sugar each day isn’t ideal as it can disrupt blood sugar levels.
For his evening meal, Rory opts for a great balance of oily fish with greens and potatoes. With this, he benefits from the omega-3 fats and amino acids in the fish and plenty of fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from his veggie selection. It’s wonderful that he’s conscious of eating plant foods with each meal, and he should easily reach a minimum of five portions and fruit and veg a day.
Overall, Rory chooses a healthy and nourishing diet based on wholesome foods to help support his energy levels, immune system and overall health. Well done Rory.