If you're heading to Electric Picnic this weekend and want to ensure your trip includes a requisite amount of good food and drink, the Theatre of Food is where it's at. Located in the Mindfield area of the festival, it's a good spot to hit if your brain needs a break from partying and copious amounts of alcohol, and this year’s line up is particularly good, with two new stages as well as the main stage - a workshop theatre and a drinks theatre. The latter may not help with that break from copious amounts of alcohol.
Events over the weekend have been curated by John and Sally McKenna of the McKennas' Guides, with topics including fashion for female chefs (more below before outrage ensues), spice bags, Dia de los Muertos cakes, psychobiotics and sustainable fish shopping. On that long-standing issue of what women should wear when in a kitchen, there will be a fashion show of ethically-made Irish chefs-wear for women chefs. Chef Caitlin Ruth, of Deasys in Cork, commissioned designer Ali Wheeler to come up with the new threads, saying, “For too long, women’s chef gear has been simply men’s gear with the odd dart”.
On Saturday at 5:30pm, Andy Noonan of Fowl Play and The Big Grill will be demonstrating a live fire feast inspired by South American techniques. Noonan and butcher Pat Whelan will be slow-roasting whole animals with seasonal vegetables. All parts of the animal will be pulled, seasoned and mixed together and served at 6pm. We’re getting nostalgic about The Big Grill already.
Many talented Irish chefs feature on the line up this year. Kwanghi Chan, former head chef of the Cliff House Hotel and owner of food brand ChanChan, will be talking about the spice bag, while Executive head chef at Greenes in Cork, Bryan McCarthy, will be making farm-to-glass cocktails.
JR Ryall, head pastry chef of Ballymaloe House will reveal the secrets of Ballymaloe’s famous dessert trolley, demoing apple tartlets and a chest of sandwiches, while Klaw’s Niall Sabongi will make his much-loved (and instagrammed) seafood poké.
In the Workshop Tent, as part of the children’s programme, Jack O’Keefe, head chef of Cook’s Academy, will be running a pizza workshop, while Graham Herterich, The Cupcake Bloke himself, will be holding a hands on decoration class. He’ll also be exploring the idea of Cupcakes with a Twist on the main stage. Kevin Thornton will bring his Kooks Cookery Class to the Fringe Theatre, teaching a group of festival-goers how to make bread. No word yet on how intoxicated you need to be to take part.
There will also be talks on mood food with Professor Ted Dinan, author of The Psychobiotic Revolution, and discussions on how to be an ethical consumer of fish with Dr Susan Steele, and famed Galway fishmonger Stefan Griesbach from Gannet fishmongers and eatmorefish.ie.
Other chefs on the bill for the weekend include Grainne O’Keefe from Clanbrassil House, Jess Murphy of Kai and JP McMahon of Aniar. Gulp 4.0 will be looking at the science of food, while gaelic footballer and food blogger Sinéad Delahunty will be looking at food and sport with surfer and cookery author Finn Ní Fhaolain.
In the Drinks Theatre, there will be demos on making the perfect coffee, rhubarb martinis and 'Intelligent Tea', along with cocktails and mixology from various spirits brands. There will also be tastings of Slane Whiskey from Alex and Wolf Conyngham (the family who own Slane Castle) and wine tastings with Leslie Williams, so there's so excuse to get hungry or dehydrated over the weekend.
The Theatre of Food @ Electric Picnic
31st Aug - 2nd Sept
Stradbally Hall, Co. Laois