Dingle Cookery School is positioned between the green hills of the Dingle Peninsula and the vast Atlantic Ocean. It’s also just a short walk from the town of Dingle – a vibrant, arty place with lots going on. The town has a strong creative vibe, as well as easy access to some of the most dramatic landscape in Ireland. So it’s not surprising that you can choose from lots of courses in Dingle. But learning to cook with local ingredients has to be one of the most fun.
Dingle Cookery School
Inside, Dingle Cookery School is sleek and modern. The spacious kitchen is all gleaming stainless steel and white walls. With views of the sea and everything you need to whip up an incredible meal, the kitchen makes it easy to fall in love with cooking. There’s also a bright and airy demonstration area, that transforms into a dining room.
Classes at Dingle Cookery School range from seasonal cooking and bread-making to themed supper clubs. ‘Catch and Cook’ is one of the most popular courses. Participants go out on a fishing boat and return with their catch to the cooking school. Back in the kitchen, everyone is shown how to prepare and cook their fish to perfection, before having a small feast in the dining area.
If you like the sound of traditional Irish recipes and wholesome ingredients, mixed with a bit of history, try the Traditional Irish Cooking class. During my afternoon at the school, I learned to make Kerry Apple Cake from a 200-year old recipe. Muireann Nic Giolla Ruaidh, one of the school’s founders, told us that the recipe came from her grandmother.
As Muireann demonstrated the steps involved in making this simple but delicious cake, she emphasised the importance of using quality ingredients. Good quality butter and local, free-range eggs add flavour that you can’t achieve with cheap substitutes.
The abundance of good quality, raw produce could be partly why there are so many great cooking classes in Kerry. In the Dingle area, root vegetables like turnips, beets, carrots, and onions are in plentiful supply. While Muireann mixed her ingredients for the soda bread, she told us that dairy products from Ireland are among the best in the world. She also told us about the recent push to have local produce labelled specifically as ‘Dingle Peninsula’.
Foraging and Fermentation
Dingle Cookery School also runs an impressive number of health-related cookery classes. There’s a fermentation class, a vegetarian supper club, and a seaweed foraging workshop. But there’s a focus on using nutritious, locally-grown ingredients in every class. The school has its own vegetable garden, where they grow green vegetables and juicy, red tomatoes. Muireann filled a big basket with these vegetables, which we later chopped up and steamed to serve with our hake.
The Team Behind the School
Mark Murphy and Muireann Nic Giolla Ruaidh, the Dingle Cookery School’s key partners, are both passionate about good food and their local area. Their enthusiasm for using fresh, quality ingredients and combining traditional recipes with modern cooking styles is apparent from the range of classes and workshops.
Classes are taught in a relaxed, friendly way that makes cooking fun. The teachers’ knowledge and love of Dingle also adds depth to the experience and takes the classes beyond simple instruction.
Dingle Food Festival
Mark and Muireann also both work with the Dingle Food Festival. This annual, non-profit food festival takes place on the first weekend of October. The locally-organised festival has a programme of cookery demonstrations, markets, and workshops. There’s also a taste trail, which stops at over 70 cafes, restaurants, pubs, art galleries, and shops throughout the town.
The Dingle Food Festival is all about real, good food. And for anyone interested in health or nutrition, there are workshops with a focus on wellness. The 2017 festival programme included a ‘Food as Medicine’ class, which showed participants how to make herbal remedies and how to ferment.
Dining at the Dingle Cookery School
Unsurprisingly, one of the most enjoyable parts of a Dingle Cookery School class is the time spent eating. After we’d pan-fried our hake fillets, steamed our greens, and baked our bread, we were ready to feast. We sat down at a table heaving with sides of potatoes, colourful bowls of salad, and our plated mains. Knowing we’d cooked lunch ourselves, made it taste even better.
Looking for cookery schools in Ireland?
- The Dingle Cookery facebook page is useful for staying up to date with the school.
- There are lots of Irish culinary schools dotted around the country.
- If you’re specifically looking for bread-making courses in Ireland, you could also try the Baking Academy of Ireland in Dublin.
- It’s worth spending a few a days in the area, as there are lots of things to do in Kerry. Try hiking Mount Brandon, driving the Ring of Kerry, or exploring the windswept coast.
- You might also like: 6 Dramatic Walks in Killarney National Park