The Belle Isle Cookery School opened its doors in November 2003 in the grounds of Belle Isle Castle, on the magnificent Belle Isle Estate on Lough Erne in County Fermanagh. This purpose-built state-of-the-art cookery school, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, plays an important part in the life of this holiday destination. With cattle and sheep grazing the meadows, free-range hens living happily beside the school and the adjacent walled kitchen garden, Belle Isle has the perfect ingredients for embarking on a culinary adventure in one of the most beautiful settings in Ireland. Whether you are a complete beginner or a more experienced cook we have courses to suit everyone and our head tutor, Corrie Cadden and her team will ensure a memorable experience to take home with you.
Head tutor and manager
Corrie Cadden, age 28, was born and brought up in County Fermanagh, just outside Enniskillen, a member of the Armstrong family, well-known in the local community. Following school she graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a first class honours degree in Business and Politics and was subsequently offered a job tutoring Marketing Management. Having grown up in a household with an ethos of good, honest food, it was cooking that inspired all her summer holidays from university. Two great foodie adventures were spending the summer interrailing around the food heaven of Italy and three months eating her way around New Zealand and Australia in a very rickety campervan. The latter trip was particularly inspirational as it was packed full of exotic Asian flavours and styles of cooking which centred around the freshest ingredients. It was this passionate love of food, which had begun in early childhood, that eventually lured her in a different direction. On the advice of a friend, fellow foodie and restaurant adviser, Blathnaid Bergin, she decided to gain some experience of the food industry. This she did by working on the management side at O’Connells’s Restaurant in Ballsbridge, owned by Tom O’Connell, brother of Darina Allen. Still wanting to fulfil her dream of training at Ballymaloe, she embarked on the 12 week Professional diploma course, ending on a highly commended note. Loving the Ballymaloe bubble too much to leave, the offer of a job teaching in the school was a dream come true and gave Corrie the most wonderful experience and appreciation of using the best ingredients that were all grown, reared or created on the organic farm. It also presented some wonderful opportunities to do some very interesting private catering events.
With a hungry and handsome fiancé (now husband) in Co. Fermanagh she decided to move back to her home county and embark on a career that would allow her to combine her business background with her love of food. Last year she was responsible for setting up the first weekly farmers’ market in Co. Fermanagh which will re-open in April. The importance of supporting local artisan producers has always been one of Corrie’s priorities. When the position of head tutor and manager at The Belle Isle Cookery School became vacant there was no better candidate to fill the vacancy, right on her doorstep.
An avid member of the Slow Food Movement, Corrie is particularly keen to educate young people as to where food is grown or reared and to stress the importance of identifying where food comes from. ‘I think it’s so important to encourage young people as well as adults that cooking is fun and accessible at any level and something that you never stop learning about.” She is also determined to show that gardening at any age is cool and will be using the garden at Belle Isle to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs for the Cookery School involving her students in this project. Her other hobbies include photography, yoga, tennis and sipping a cappuccino whilst reading cookery magazines. In summer, when she’s not in her tiny potting’ shed she can be found walking her fox terrier Molly on Rossnowlagh beach in Co. Donegal.
Joe Kelly has been a professional chef for over 20 years and a tutor at Belle Isle since 2005. Joe began his culinary career while growing up in America. He was formally trained and has worked and managed kitchens in both South Beach, Miami and San Francisco, California. In 2005 he returned home to Northern Ireland to start a family with his wife Jennifer. Joe has co-authored two cookbooks and also appeared on Channel 4′s Iron Chef. In addition to teaching at Belle Isle he is a private caterer, cookery demonstrator and restaurant consultant with clients throughout Ireland. Chef Joe works closely with local Northern Ireland producers and growers to ensure that quality is always at the forefront of his food.