The best cooks aren't always the best-known cooks.
Take Georgina O'Sullivan, for instance. Despite the fact that she had, at one time, a prominent media profile as Home Market manager for Bord Bia, many people would struggle to tell you where she cooks today.
But for the thousands of people who pack out The Ballymore Inn, in Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare, every week, arriving with expectant appetites to enjoy the food in the restaurant and in the back bar, Mrs O'Sullivan is a culinary hero. For her customers, she is not just one of the great cooks, she is one of the greatest cooks.
We agree. We first wrote about her cooking as long ago as 1998, in an article in The Weekender section of The Irish Times, though in fact we had known her for several years before she opened The Ballymore Inn, with her husband, Barry, at front of house.
Her cooking was a revelation: we knew she was a great cook, but her restaurant food showed that she was, in fact, one of the greatest cooks, and every visit to The Ballymore Inn has only served to confirm that fact. She knows what is important in food – the quality of ingredients, the synthesis of flavours, the comfort of the final dish. And there is nothing extraneous in her food: as our film shows, each dish gets what it needs, and no more.
When Mrs O'Sullivan wanted to collect her recipes in a book, to celebrate the fact that The Ballymore Inn has been open for 20 years, we were delighted to help, pulling her carefully written recipes and Barry's excellent photography of Georgina's dishes together into what has become Cooking at The Ballymore Inn. Like the chef herself, this is a singular book: focussed, clear, the food clean and authoritative. There are recipes in the book that you will cook for the rest of your life, because they are the work of one of the greatest cooks.
The book is available from Avoca Rathcoole and from the Ballymore website...