Award winning chef Neven Maguire cooked up a storm at the Clonmel Park Hotel in front of more than 600 food lovers.
The huge crowd was gathered to watch the celebrity chef and owner of The Macnean Restaurant in Co. Cavan give a wide ranging cookery demonstration using local food produce.
Joining him at the aptly named Golden Vale Suite in the Clonmel Park on Thursday night, February 7 were 17 Tipperary food producers and shop owners, who had stalls showcasing their tasty products.
Neven Maguire was visiting Clonmel not just to give cooking enthusiasts tips on how to improve their culinary skills but to raise money for several worthy causes including Ballyneale Community Hall’s renovation fund, the Irish Heart Foundation, Cardiac Risk in Young (CRY), Ballyneale Benevolent Society, Ballyneale Tidy Towns and Kilmurray Graveyard
The event was organised by a committee of about 20 peole in Ballyneale over several months after Neven Maguire accepted an invitation issued by retired home economics teacher Marian Hearn.
Marian had been asking Maguire to come to South Tipperary for years to give a cookery demonstration and she received the long awaited phone call from him accepting her invitation on the day that was poignantly the first anniversary of her husband William’s death.
An emergency general meeting was called with the Ballyneale Hall Committee. This capable, committed group of parishioners huddled together in their cold hall on many a blustery night to plan for the Neven McGuire Demonstration.
Following two months of incredible diligence and teamwork, the demonstration night arrived. The event was sold out three weeks beforehand and there was a lengthy queue into the hotel an hour before it was scheduled to start.
The presence of the 17 local food producers stalls in the Golden Vale Suite before the cookery demonstration gave a ‘food fair’ atmosphere to the event.
Exhibitors included Caca Milis, The Auld Mill Bakery, O’Malley Craft Butchers, Tom Power Premier Meats Craft Butchers, Crowe Family Farm, Crossog Preserves, Marty’s Pantry, The Honey Pot. Cashel Blue, O’Brien Fine Foods, Cooleeny Cheese, The Black Bee, O’Donnell’s Crisps, Flahavans, Cookie Jar, Tastefully Yours, Hickey’s.
The cookery demonstration was supported by Tom Power Premier Meats Craft Butchers, Clonmel, whose display of meat cuts at the demonstration was praised by Neven as the best he had ever seen, as well as MSD Ballydine (formerly Merck Sharp & Dohme), O’Brien Fine Foods and Glanbia.
The demonstration was most entertaining and informative and Neven was ably assisted by two chefs from The MacNean Restaurant, Susan Murphy, who is a native of Co. Kilkenny and past-pupil of Marian Hearn and Olivia Raferty from Co. Roscommon.
Neven stressed the importance of promoting Irish local produce as well as giving practical recipes using the lesser-known cuts of meat, particularly for lamb.
He acknowledged the horse meat fiasco and the important role consumers play in supporting our local butchers and farmers.
Neven also spoke openly about the recent death of his mother, who had a hugely positive influence on him.
He gave very willingly of his time to the people who attended the demonstration and food fair. He stood in for many photos with fans and also autographed a large number of copies of his new recipe book for them.
As well as the gastronomic delights on offer at the cookery demonstration, there was a raffle during the night, featuring 35 prizes including many hampers and vouchers.
Madeleine Hearn of the organising committee, said the event has raised more than €14,000 for the various causes and they were delighted with how the huge public response and turnout for the event.
“Times are hard and pockets often empty, but we are overwhelmed by the goodness and generosity of so many businesses throughout the locality – both big and small,” she told The Nationalist.
“With so many communities decimated by emigration and uncertainty it is a huge tribute to the people of Ballyneale that our event was a tremendous success. Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success - there is nothing truer.”
Work was due to resume this week on renovations to Ballyneale Community Hall. The installation of insulation and new toilets are among the works that will be carried out on the building.