Remembering: Charlotte Coleman-Smith
Food writer and member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, Charlotte Coleman-Smith passed away in December. Here, she is remembered in print and by her fellow guild member and former colleague, Aoife Carrigy.
IFWG Outgoing Chair, Aoife Carrigy:
"Charlotte was a contributor to FOOD&WINE Magazine during my time there as Deputy Editor and I always enjoyed subbing her copy for her regular 'This Much I Know' column, in which she interviewed many legends of Irish food.
We learned that Denis Cotter of Cafe Paradiso was an accidental vegetarian who had grown up a finicky eater and that he had great admiration for Paul Flynn, who – "even though he denies it" – does great things with vegetables. That supremo smoker Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery (who identifies with salmon as she has "swum against the all through [her] life") began her first experimentations when her fisherman husband was paid for a haul of salmon with a kiln rather than cash. How second-generation baker Robert Ditty turned back to baking after his sculpture studio got blasted in a Castledawson bomb, and that food offered him a real and much-valued connection with his local community. And that Richard Corrigan values honesty, loyalty and optimism, describes his food as "passionately pure" – and wishes his tongue was!
Though each feature was written in the first-person voice of the interviewee, I came to recognise and admire Charlotte's own elegant voice which shone quietly through in her skilful and subtle portraits.
I was concerned to hear of her initial encounter with breast cancer and greatly relieved when she recovered from it, so it was with great sadness that I learned of her recently death. Our thoughts our with her family – and with Charlotte herself."
Tribute: Remembering the late Mrs Allen
The renowned "godmother of Irish food", Mrs. Myrtle Allen, passed away in June 2018. Founder of Ballymaloe House, wife, mother, chef, restaurateur, teacher, mentor, advocate and champion... The Irish Food Writers' Guild remember their founder and fellow member.
IFWG Chair, Kristin Jensen
"It’s impossible to overstate the impact that Mrs Allen single-handedly had on Irish food and hospitality. While the development of Irish food over the last five decades may now seem like a logical progression, much of it is down to the vision, hard work and determination of one person: Myrtle Allen. Her philosophy of serving simply prepared, seasonal, local food and supporting local suppliers put her ahead of her time. She championed our top-class produce when no one else was and showed us – and the world – that the food on this island is something special that we should be proud of.
The words used to describe her are ones like visionary, pioneer, trailblazer, inspiration, legend. She was, and will always be, one of the towering figures of Irish food. We are all the richer for her lasting contributions to the Irish food culture.”
IFWG President, Georgina Campbell
Written for her website Ireland's Guide, Georgina wrote this touching appreciation - "Myrtle Allen: Champion of Irish Food"
IFWG Member, Dianne Curtin
"A number of years ago, quite early on in my career here, I was asked to write some promotional material for dry cured bacon. A trip was arranged for me to see the bacon production and the pig farm that went with it. I was horrified by the intensive farming methods of pigs being kept penned in sheds, standing on concrete their whole lives, with only an empty plastic milk container dangling on a string as a 'plaything' to amuse them. I knew I was going to have to go back and tell the client that even though the bacon production was fine, I wouldn't be able to write the material because of the farming methods. The thought of it kept me up at night for quite a few weeks!
Shortly after the farm trip, I was part of a group that visited a sea urchin production. Myrtle Allen was also part of the group. We were being shown how they were bred, when Mrs Allen, who was peering intently into one of the nursery tanks containing the almost microscopic baby urchins, asked 'Do these creatures ever see a rock pool?' Myrtle Allen's simple question about whether sea urchins ever got to see the great outdoors in their short lives showed the conscience and integrity for which we all knew her well.
It totally put into perspective my own dilemma about the pigs and turning down a job, making me determined never to be afraid to ask how things are done, nor of speaking out when they aren't done to a level I am happy with, as a food writer. As professionals of the industry, we are charged with responsibility to educate and inform.
So thank you Mrs Allen. You left a great legacy, not just for the Irish nation in appreciating its home grown, home made foods and core ingredients, but for us as food professionals, who would strive to reach your high standards of quality, conscience and integrity at all times."
IFWG Member, Darina Allen
Written as an open letter on the Ballymaloe Cookery School website, Darina beautifully speaks of the late Mrs Allen and shares a recipe from her. Read it here.
Awards: 2018 Food Awards
Natural Born Winners: No artificial additives and traditional methods mark out IFWG Food Award winners 2018.
For the full story on the 2018 awards, plus winners citations and recipes, click here.
The awards ceremony was held in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud on Wednesday, 7th March. It was attended by IFWG members, press and friends of the Guild.
This is the social gallery from the event...
[Photos: Paul Sherwood]
Links of Interest
Not the full Irish - Katy McGuinness explores the true origins of 'Irish' foods.
The Irish Food Writers’ Guild is grateful to the Herbert Park Hotel for their ongoing generosity in hosting our regular meetings in their excellent facilities.
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