Have you ever dreamt of packing your bags and jetting off to Ireland for a few months, leaving all your worries behind and experiencing a dream come true?
I did. And it was amazing.
My dream, or rather my pipe dream as I first thought it was, was to attend cooking school in Ireland. The Dublin Cookery School, owned and run by the very talented chef, Lynda Booth, advertised a three month intensive certificate course. I spent years, literally, drooling over the website and reading everything I could about it. Never thinking I would ever actually be able to go. And then, my circumstances changed and I made it work. It was a financial challenge for sure, but one I thought would be worth it. We cannot after all take our money when we leave this life for the next. I had come to view life and the pursuit of our dreams as a very important thing to do, if at all possible. The last five years of my life had been a challenge with the loss of both of my parents, loss of my job, relationship troubles and my own cancer diagnosis. If it weren’t the time to live life to its fullest, when would it be? So, I took the leap. I financed the money, I paid my way, set up lodging with my favourite Auntie in Dublin and boarded the plane. I was nervous! What if it wasn’t what I’d dreamed it would be? What if I didn’t like it or if the people were unpleasant? I pushed all of those thoughts aside and became determined that the next three months were going to be fantastic. And do you know what? They were.
I’m home now for close to a year, back in Ontario, Canada. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the wonderful experience I had at the Dublin Cookery School and all of the wonderful people I met of all ages and from all over the world – many of whom I hope to remain friends with and see again soon. Most of all and best of all was the food I learned to make and the time I was able to spend with my aunt and cousins in Ireland.
I can’t express how wonderful it was to wake up each day and make my way to the school, to set-up my cooking area with my partner for the day and to get to work on preparing some of the best foods I have ever tasted; and I had made it!
The school is clean, sleek and modern. It felt like arriving home each day and instead of feeling like work, I felt like I was just taking on a new adventure, one that I always looked forward to. I learned so many new recipes and ways of doing things in the kitchen to improve upon taste, quality, time, technique and aesthetics. Skills that I continue to use in my daily life and bring with me into the work I now do in product development and in helping people find that delicious balance between eating healthy and truly enjoying food. It was a fantastic discovery for myself that I could, at least while in Ireland, enjoy bread and pasta again. Being told I was gluten intolerant following my cancer diagnosis, I thought I was done with real bread forever. I love bread! I didn’t want to give it up. So, I decided I wouldn’t give it up, not at least while I was at the school. I would just see what happened. And nothing did. I felt great! Turns out, it all came down to what we add to our North American Flour to make it produce breads and pastas more quickly. What a shame. So many people are suffering now and it predominantly comes down to additives. Some of my favourite days at the school were spent making bread with an expert baker and learning to make cheese!
We hosted 3 pop-up restaurant nights and they were not only skill testing but fun and a great way to show off what we had been learning. Plus we were able to work alongside our tutors as a team and not just student/teacher. The feeling of teamwork, comradery and accomplishment was great. The whole experience was in my estimation money well spent. Yes, it was a lot of money that I had to plan for – plan to save and plan to pay back – but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat if I could. Best part is that I had a job almost immediately after coming home. I now work as a product developer and marketer for a company back home. I love it! I use my skills almost everyday.
Thank you Lynda, and everyone at the Dublin Cookery School and all of my family and new friends for helping to make my three months an experience to last a lifetime.