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Harry Potter and The Long Table Dinner

September 14th, 2011

Pat Whelan became Professor Albus Dumbledore and waved his magic wand on the Tipperary Food scene and turned the Senior Refectory at Rockwell College into the Great Hall of Hogwarts. The annual Long Table dinner was a massive success and a fantastic showcase for the positivity that exists in Tipperary.

Rockwell College Long Table Dinner

TV Debuts

However, before this wonderful event can begin to be described, I simply have to tell you all about my TV debut. Myself, Dumbledore, TJ Crowe, Una O Dwyer, Cate McCarthey of The Cookie Jar, Nora Egan from Inch House and Nuala Hickey were on TV3’s Ireland AM the morning of the dinner.

The TippFood gang at TV3

The TippFood gang at TV3

We had a 5am start and because we were ‘on air’ at 7.30, I wasn’t allowed to talk about wine. It was all about the Tipperary Food Producers and while everyone else spoke about their products, I had to cook them live on air. The pressure was immense and I think the fact that I was still asleep really helped. I woke up about an hour after we went ‘off air’.

The floor manager kept telling me to get more sizzle, but what he failed to comprehend was my cooking started at 7am for the teaser (that’s the section at the start of the program where they tell you what’s coming up later and go for a live feed). If I went for the sizzle at the start, we would end up with a cremated mess by time Alan Cantwell came around to say hello.

With the exception of one piece of Inch House Black Pudding that got away from me, I think I kept it all sizzling quite nicely. I would imagine that TV3 noticed too and I can foresee a new cookery show. A slightly greying man talks about and enjoys various glasses of wine as he cooks for various celebrities.

A star is born

A star is born

We were finished before 8 o clock in the morning, but still had a lot to do, so it was the long road to Tipperary and the preparations for the Long Table dinner we spoke so eloquently about on TV.

When Rockwell became Hogwarts

People started to arrive early and the Long Hall in Rockwell was soon crammed with expectant guests. Italian Prosecco from Red Nose Wine and Sparkling Apple Juice from The Apple Farm accompanied a symphony of canapés which were made from the very best of Tipperary Produce. I brought a lot of Prosecco and we very nearly got to the end of it. A clean glass became the thing to find.

We hunted the merry men and women from the Long Hall into the Great Hall, otherwise known as the Senior Refectory where three lines of tables were adorned with candelabras and lilies and as people found seats, the food began to arrive. I am sure Pat Whelan will describe them better than I could, so I will stick to the wine. Suffice to say that it was immense and a credit to the quality of product available in this great county.

A great atmosphere and a great night

A great atmosphere and a great night

I have mentioned Mas de Daumas Gassac before and we served their Classic Red and White. Some of you met Samuel Guibert during his tasting last year, and his brother Roman spent a year in Rockwell. They make organic wines that are famous the world over, and they were a great match to the bounty from Tipperary. Incidentally, if you want to try some more Tipperary Food, these wines can also be found in Inch House and McCartheys of Fethard.

One of the highlights of the night was the Singing Waiters and the clue is in the name. A fight over wine turned into an operatic battle of three wonderful voices. The Italians would always say that good food needs good wine, but opera just brings it to a new level of pleasure. I might have made that up but the opera we witnessed in Rockwell added a new layer to the atmosphere. After the food ( and wine ), I think it must have been most people’s highlight.

The singing waiter and the wineman

The GIY Guy

We also had Michael Kelly, the founder of Grow It Yourself (GIY) as a special guest, and he gave us a great talk on the harvest, seasonal food and the simple pleasure of growing your own food. I was in college with Mick, and was delighted to see his little adventure grow into something so positive and empowering. We have been enjoying the bounty of our little garden and also my father’s more sizeable venture these last few weeks.

Mick Kelly GIY

I know the work that goes into these nights and I would like to thank Pat Whelan and his team for their energy and vision in turning these events into a reality. I sat beside Tom Hayes and his wife Marian and enjoyed some good political banter. Every year we ask local representatives to come along and support the event. Tom and Marian come every year and it is greatly appreciated.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

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