Dix Points

Oh yeah baby, I'm cooking, this week I feel like I've finally arrived.  I've only gone and started to score 10's, yes that's right you heard me, Nadra is a top scorer.  I've got a swagger in my step, one of those lazy smiles (you know the ones that people sport when they just ooze confidence and make you believe they are really important?) oh, and I've got a slight wiggle going on (although I am not sure whether this is necessarily connected to the 10's or a slight glute injury (that bloody fold up bike again) anyway a wiggle nevertheless.

It's been yet another eventful week at Ballymaloe Cookery School.  Week 3, can't quite believe that there are only 9 bootcamp weeks to go.    In 3 weeks I will have my first official exam. A test to see if any skills have been learnt, if I know my Lollo Rosso from Wild Rocket, my Fennel from my Dill, my Arse from my Elbow.  You get the picture.

This week was the beginning of the pop-up dinner excitement.  On Saturday November 19th the students are been given the opportunity to host a pop-up dinner for 70 paying guests, it is down to us to choose a theme, devise a menu, create the styling, design menus, craft the drinks, you name it we do it.  Oooh it's a thing.  I am keeping a comfortable distance, keeping an eye out on the side lines. Now, this may seem a touch passive, get stuck in there I hear you cry. Show 'em what you've got Shah.  The truth is I don't feel I am the best woman for the job, not at the moment. I have conceived, created and produced festivals, I have an abundance of creative ideas but if truth be known I am slightly out of my depth here.  I am not about to put myself in the running for menu creation, not when I am still learning my Bernaise from my Mornay  (arse / elbow again).  No, I am happy to let the more chefy of the group go wild with their smoked foraged offerings.  I am sure my opinions will ramp up a notch when we get to styling and branding.   I have however put myself forward for petit fours and bread.   I mean who doesn't like a nice bread roll and a good petit four when they are out for dinner?  It's the little touches people, the little touches.

There has been a lot of chat about the "F" word this week and no, I am not talking about the feck/f*ck situation, I have well and truly put that to bed on the account that I have it on good authority that the person that shared this this with me in the first place let a rip-roaring f*ck out at the sink.  The amount of bloody washing up you have to do here would drive anyone to blasphemies I can tell you.  No, the "F" word is the future.  Life after Ballymaloe.  Work. Job. Money.  Jesus Mary and Joseph. Ha! Maybe that's what they should be called.  I will never make a good Irish girl with my potty mouth.

Yes, so work.  I have found myself thinking about Kitchen & Soul and some work that I did with the mighty Mark Shayler in the summer about disruption and creating a business.  Business on paper is just that isn't it? It's a business on paper. When the time comes you just have to bloody do it.  If you want inspiration for just doing it then Fraser Doherty's book 48hr Start-Up is a good read and he made about 20 million quid from his nan's jam so there.  So what is my plan? Well now seems as good a time as any to share with you my vision for Kitchen & Soul:

Create connection through cookingcommunity and conversation.

Kitchen & Soul will celebrate the culture of food, bringing community, produce and wellbeing together

Healthy meets Tasty

Wellbeing meets Provenance

Food Culture meets Local Footprint

I am passionate about community and I am passionate about wellbeing.  Having lived through depression I know how important connection is, I also know that finding something you can believe in helps you to keep going.  It doesn't matter where that comes from but it's important.

At this junction I know that my life is probably not going to be the same as it was before I came to Ballymaloe.  I know that my heart isn't in trying to get freelance work.  There is only one place that I would consider working and that is The House of St Barnabas (the job I left to live with the chickens).   So I am finding myself looking at  companies that carry that same ethos as Ballymaloe. Farms that have great cafes, places that work seasonally, work with the community, work in the community, places that I can learn from, so in 2017 I can bring Kitchen & Soul to life.   So I am putting it all out to the universe.  Yes universe I am talking to you.  Bring me that company that wants a bit of Shah in its life.

I seem to have wildly digressed this week.  Got all business start-up on you.

Well in other cooking news.  Here are my musings and general round up from week 3.

  1. Front Row Demo War seems to have mixed it up.  There seems to be some sort of rotation going on. I remain sitting  pretty in the 2nd row.  Creature of habit
  2. Kneading bread is exceptionally therapeutic, takes me back to my massage days
  3. I am quite a mean piper (as in piping bag not the Scottish pipes)
  4. It all went a bit MasterChef when the words "I can't work like this I really need some tweezers" escaped my mouth whilst trying to get a glazed Sweet Cicely leaf on my tart.  It was a proud moment
  5. Red wine and cheese remain staple dinner items
  6. I rescued a cow from the side of a cliff. True story.
  7. Is it wrong not to have your sheets changed every week when the opportunity presents itself?  I am thinking fortnightly? Is this acceptable.  I seem to have lost all sense of what is normal whilst living in my butter bubble.
  8. Sourdough Starter.  Three words.  Labour Of Love.
  9. I really need to speak up when someone calls me Nadia. What is wrong with me? Who is this timid little thing that sometimes appears. Be gone with you. It's living in a constant state of uncertainty I seem to have forgotten who I am. Thank god for the name badge that's all I can say
  10. Felt very smug after I foraged for blackberries earlier today.  Not so smug now I feel compelled to do something creative with them and not just sprinkle them on my porridge

Well, I wonder what next week will bring?  I mean it could be anything.



Nadra Shah