Rachel Allen on lockdown, meeting the Queen, hanging out with Marco Pierre White – and mindful eating
17th September 2022
Life is never boring with Rachel Allen, who is chatting about the lockdown, meeting the Queen no less than three times, hanging out with Marco Pierre White and mindful eating. She met the monarch twice on her visits to Ireland and a third time in Buckingham Palace itself, and it’s no surprise. She is Ireland’s cooking queen after all. ‘It was great to meet her and such an honour.’
The mum of three, whose husband Isacc is the son of Ireland’s other cooking queen Darina Allen, is chatting about her role in next weekend’s Festival of Food in Kildare before she goes to teach a class in Ballymaloe Cookery School.
‘The Taste of Kildare is always such a lovely festival and to be joining up on a weekend of racing is such a good idea, as people will get both great food and lots of fun,’ says Rachel, who is going to be cooking demos over the weekend.
However, there’s one thing that she loves even more than cooking — and that’s eating. ‘Sometimes I just crave a roast chicken,’ she says. ‘Oh, and steak. Steak Bernaise. And chips,’ she says.
‘Oh, I love eating. I love eating,’ she laughs. ‘I love sharing food with friends, it’s just such a lovely way to get people together.’
And while the rest of Ireland catches up when it comes to food sustainability, Ballymaloe has been leading the way for decades. However, Rachel is empathetic when it comes to an average family trying to reduce their food miles.
‘Of course, it’s really important — we need to try but we need to be realistic,’ she says. ‘Being more mindful of what you’re eating is a start.’
While other food businesses struggled, Ballymaloe was in a good position as it was still selling produce through the shop. ‘I felt really lucky because we could work — we could cook for the shop,’ she explains. ‘About six or seven of us chose to go to work, and I’m really glad that I did.’
But of course, Rachel wasn’t just cooking for work and pleasure during the lockdown, she was also writing a cookbook, Soup Broth Bread, homeschooling her daughter, Scarlett Lily, and moving to a temporary home while their dream home is in the making.
‘It was really hard going, really hard going,’ she recalls. ‘It was very interesting trying to do all that.’
Scarlett is the youngest of Rachel and Isaac’s children and the last school-goer in the family. Lucca, aged 20, moved to Japan last year with the Japanese Albirex RT team to compete in the Super Formula Lights League.
Their eldest son, Joshua, 22, a mixed martial arts fighter, has had a much-publicised and turbulent four years, first being charged with drugs offences in 2018. He spent three months in a residential treatment centre for drug use in late 2019 and this July he was jailed for seven months, again for drug offences.