Celebrity chef Rachel helps raise €3,000 for baby care unit

Top TV cook Rachel Allen made a very special “Trip to Tipp”, brought a little early festive cheer to the region and helped raise €3,000 for a local charity as she hosted a Tipperary Food Producers Christmas Cookery Extravaganza.

Top TV cook Rachel Allen made a very special “Trip to Tipp”, brought a little early festive cheer to the region and helped raise €3,000 for a local charity as she hosted a Tipperary Food Producers Christmas Cookery Extravaganza.

Over 450 lovers of the region’s best food attended the Clonmel Park Hotel on Wednesday night last to see the celebrity chef, who was assisted by Sarah Baker, create special festive dishes made using the best of local Tipperary artisan food produce.

The festive gathering included a fund-raiser for the South Tipperary General Hospital Special Care Baby Unit, which is badly in need of much needed equipment. Supporters dug deep and the extravaganza raised a whopping €3,000 for the very worthy appeal.

Brid O’Mahony from the Special Care Baby Unit said the money will be put to very good use. “This money will go towards replacing one of our incubators which is now obsolete. It’s a very busy unit, caring for as many as five babies at any one time. We are very thankful to the organisers and to all who supported the event”

Rachel Allen, who is part of the world famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in East Cork and well known from her regular television shows and for her bestselling cook books, prepared a variety of delicious dishes for the Tipperary food showcase. As well as her unique take on traditional Christmas favourites, she also offered exciting new ideas using the finest of local ingredients.

Among the dishes and delights prepared and served up were black pudding and Cashel Blue crustini, local pork and apples, apricot yogurt desserts and aromatic Focaccia. Supporters of the event also enjoyed Barbara Russell’s canapés and Sarah Baker’s sumptuous Tipperary Pork with blackpudding terrine, celeriac roulade and red onion marmalade. Imen McDonnell’s butter demonstration was also a huge hit.

The evening was organised by the Tipperary Food Producers Network, which is appealing to consumers this Christmas to support small, artisan food producers and to shop and buy local. Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine is renowned for his impeccable taste in wine and advised on the best wines to accompany the sumptuous dishes prepared on the night. He was also one of the chief organisers of the evening and thanked everyone for their support.

“This event took a lot of organising, effort and teamwork and we are thrilled with the outcome. As well as highlighting the abundance of fresh, local produce in this region this event raised badly needed funds for our local special care baby unit.

“Christmas is very much a time for giving and we are very thankful to everyone who supported this gala event and the local appeal. This money will be put to very good use and we are delighted to raise such a tally for a great cause in such tough economic times”, he said.

Chairman of the Network Pat Whelan said it’s never been more important to support local businesses and shop locally. “For every €10 spent with local food businesses, €34 goes back to the local economy. But for every €10 spent with large retail multiples, only €16 is returned to the local economy. When consumers are going about their Christmas shopping over the coming days, we encourage them to think about supporting local jobs and choosing local produce. We have some of the best food on our doorstep here in Tipperary and we urge local people to support their local producers,” Mr Whelan said.