Darina in the glasshouse with students

1. We share a passion for food.

Everyone who works at Ballymaloe Cookery School feels passionate about food.  We are interested in every aspect of food - from how it is grown to cooking techniques to its most attractive presentation. This enthusiasm makes Ballymaloe a very exciting place to learn because students are immersed in a world that lives, breathes and, of course, eats food! Whether they attend an afternoon demonstration or The Ballymaloe 12 Week Certificate course, we guarantee it will be time very well spent. Our expert team has a wealth of experience and knowledge to impart. Students learn about everything from choosing the best ingredients to cooking the most complicated of dishes, and, just as importantly, pick up hundreds of invaluable tips and secrets. 

2. The school is run by one of the world’s most famous chefs.

Darina Allen may be Ireland’s most famous chef – known to tens of millions of people all over the world because of her television programmes and books – but, if you ask her what she does, she says she is a teacher. She lectures at Ballymaloe most days during term time, and even if she isn’t teaching, she is invariably to be found working elsewhere in the school or gardens. Darina’s involvement in the school is very much 'hands-on'.

3. Cook with first class local ingredients

The better the ingredients, the better the food that is produced. Ballymaloe is almost certainly the only cookery school in the world located in the middle of a one hundred acre, organic farm. The vegetables, fruit and herbs our students use come straight from our gardens and greenhouses. We also have our own cattle, pigs and chickens. What we can’t grow ourselves we source locally. For instance, almost all of our fish comes direct from the boats in nearby Ballycotton Harbour. Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have such abundant resources on their doorstep – so we teach our students how to identify the best possible ingredients whereever they live.

4. High teacher to student ratio

Ballymaloe has a reputation for offering a warm welcome to students. The courses are intensive, but the atmosphere is always friendly and helpful. Crucially, a high degree of individual attention is given to every student. There are few, if any, school that can offer the same level of personal attention and support.

5. Choose from a wide range of innovative courses

Designing our yearly schedule is one of most important tasks at the school. We strive to continually add fresh and dynamic courses while always offering the tried and trusted courses that we have become known for. Central to everything we do here is our 12 Certificate course – designed to offer students a complete grounding in the art of cooking. Approximately half of our graduates go on to become professional chefs, while many others go down different avenues within the food industry. In addition to the 12 Week Certificate, we offer an extensive range of short courses lasting from half day courses to a week or month-long courses. 

6. Study in a staggeringly beautiful location.

For those already familiar with East Cork then we don’t need to say a word about how beautiful the area is. However, people visiting for the first time are in for a treat. The school is set in the heart of lush, rolling countryside, just half a mile from the sea. The estate incorporates ten acres of formal and market gardens (including a whole acre of glasshouses), and is an oasis of tranquillity. We are also located less than two miles from Myrtle Allen's world famous Ballymaloe House.

7. Enjoy all the latest facilities and comforts of home.

The school is situated in a converted apple barn. It contains four, fully appointed ‘teaching’ kitchens with all the latest equipment; two demonstration kitchens; two beautiful dining rooms; plus cold room, freezer, larder and offices. It is a bright, cheerful, sunny space overlooking the fruit garden. Accommodation is available in one of five, self-catering 18th century cottages located in the old farm courtyard. Given all the facilities and things to do at the school itself, there is little need to look much further. For those who wish to explore, however, we are ideally located just a few minutes from the sea and approximately 35 minutes by car from Cork city.

8. Work hard, but have fun.

There is a strong work ethos here. Our typical day tends to run longer than in many other schools because we believe it is important to fit in as much as possible. There are lots of extra opportunities to make butter, milk a cow, grow your own lettuce, or learn how to compost. Lunch is a special time every day when teachers and students sit down in the spacious dining room overlooking the gardens to enjoy a three course meal which students have prepared that morning. 

9. Benefit from 30 years of experience.

Darina Allen and Rory O'Connell founded Ballymaloe Cookery school in 1983 and the school recently celebrated its 30 Year Anniversary! With such a wealth of experience, we know how to ensure that students receive the greatest possible benefit from their time with us. Every tiny detail will be looked after from ensuring that they have detailed course notes to meeting any specific dietary needs, and from helping with equipment requirements to providing accommodation. 

10. See a return on investment

We price our courses according to who is lecturing, the number of staff required, the cost of the ingredients and the length of the programme. We are very conscious about providing value for money to our students. Given the higher ratio of tutors to students and the superior quality of our ingredients, our students are invariably satisfied that the courses they undertake with us have been a good investment. 

11. Career advice

For those wishing to pursue a career as a professional chef, we believe there is no better place than Ballymaloe Cookery School to take the first step on that journey! There is a strong demand for Ballymaloe 12-week graduates and many leave us to launch successful, and often renowned, careers in the international food industry. With contacts reaching all around the world, we are delighted to make the necessary introductions for our graduates, and endeavour whereever possible to assist them with finding a suitable position when they leave us. 

Learn more about our 12 Week Course