Tibbs Farm summer delights


A sprinkling of glorious views overlooking the picturesque Tillingham Valley
A larderful of well-cooked farm-to-fork food grown and reared at Tibbs Farm
Stir in a young chef hot out of the Ballymaloe Cookery School

Inspiring food, which is increasingly foraged, and very happy customers.

Tabby Wheeler, the youngest of four siblings, who is cooking at Tibbs Farm for the summer, recently attended a three month course at The Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland. It is run by Darina Allen, a celebrity chef, cookery-book author and pioneer of the slow food movement in Ireland. The school is located within the grounds of an organic farm.

Tabby chose this course as the ethos there matches the ethos of the farm that she grew up on and influenced her style of cooking.

When did Tibbs Farm open its café and tearooms?
Summer 2020. I had just finished university and that summer we only had one chef so I found myself cooking on his days off. I had always liked cooking and I really enjoyed it. This led on to my taking the cookery course in Ireland.

Why did you choose Ballymaloe?
First, there was another guy in the village who had taken the course the year before I did and he came back enthused by what he had learnt and the experiences he had gained. Secondly, it is special as it is situated on an organic farm and the owners grow as much as they can for the kitchens. They are very sustainability-minded which is very much like us at Tibbs. There are not many places which offer this in the country.

What did you get out of the course?
I was self-taught and I wanted to learn the processes of creating great recipes. I cooked intuitively and wanted to sharpen my skills and learn about planning more carefully. Before you start to cook at the school you plan an order of work and your timings. It makes it all so much easier. We learnt a lot about seasonings, herbs and spices, and had recognition tests each week, recognising certain fish, meats and other ingredients. This all led to exams at the end of the course which will give me accreditation to work around the world.

What do you hope to do next?
I have started to do private dinner parties and catering for a client for a week. Planning meals, buying the food and preparing three meals a day was pretty full-on but I enjoyed it. It was really a great experience and I have been invited back for another week later in the year.

Gooseberries at Tibbs Farm

The gooseberries at Tibbs Farm are the first fruits to be ready for harvest so Tabby has created a recipe to use them for you all to try. Please see the article Recipe of the Month in this week’s Rye News.

Which chefs have inspired your cooking?
When I was younger I loved watching cooking programmes and they definitely helped inspire me. My favourite was always MasterChef Australia and I actually loved watching Jamie Oliver as he was always so energetic and fun. Now I have found there are so many young inspiring chefs who have become known through social media. One I have followed for a few years is Julius Roberts who worked as a chef in London then decided to up sticks to Devon and set up a small farm rearing and growing produce. He creates simple dishes using the best seasonal ingredients available and I love his style of cooking.

More recently at Ballymaloe I was inspired by Rachel Allen and Rory O’Connell who played huge rôles teaching us throughout the three months. I loved watching them cook: their creativity, enthusiasm and passion was really amazing to see.

Does your family have a favourite recipe?
I wouldn’t say we have a favourite recipe as such, we just love to be able to use as much of our own produce as possible in a meal. So in summer we would have loads of barbecues using our own lamb and pork and make lots of fresh salads with all the summer vegetables we grow. One of our favourite simple salads is homemade pesto using our own basil with loads of fresh tomatoes and mozzarella.

What do you think is the most essential life skill to have?
I actually think being able to cook is a really essential life skill that everyone should be able to do, especially now when ingredients are expensive and so it’s important to use them wisely and make the most of them. I think every school should teach children the basics of cooking and health and nutrition as otherwise if they grow up in a household where their parents don’t cook how else are they ever going to learn?

What is the best part of your day?
On a day when I’m working at the café I like to go up early and when it’s a beautiful summer morning I just get to be there on my own for a while, make a coffee and appreciate the views across the valley. It’s really peaceful and relaxing before the rush of a busy day.

If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you want to have taken with you?
I would take my phone but only so that I could play music! I love listening to music – it really soothes me and when I’m cooking I always have my speaker playing music. It helps me concentrate and I can’t do without it! I would also have to have a really good book that I could read over and over again without getting bored. Finally I would have to have my dog, Dora. Having grown up on a farm we have always had at least three dogs around; I adore them, they are the best companions and I couldn’t be without one.

You can contact Tabby at tabbywheeler3@gmail.com.

Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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