Rory O’Connell trained at Ballymaloe House with Myrtle Allen, the grand-dame of Irish country house cooking. He then left East Cork for Paris, where he worked as part of the team charged with establishing the French outpost of Ballymaloe, La Ferme Irlandaise.
On his return to Ireland, he began working with the Ryan brothers at the acclaimed Arbutus Lodge in Cork City, where he continued to expand his epicurean repertoire.
In 1985 Rory founded Ballymaloe Cookery School with his sister Darina Allen. The success of the school was widely publicised leading to Rory being called upon to style cookery books, TV shows and contribute to various international food publications. During this period, Rory worked with Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico, London and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons in Oxford.
His work has not solely been confided to the classroom or kitchen, being asked to act as a food ambassador for Ireland on many occasions. Rory has addressed both the hospitality and tourism industry at home and abroad in countries as diverse as Greece, South Africa, Italy, Denmark and Britain.
In 1994, he returned to Ballymaloe House to begin a ten year tenure as Head Chef, a stay that won him much praise from patrons and peers alike. Including Hilary Rubenstein at The Good Food Guide remarking that ‘Myrtle Allen was the original cook, but Rory O’Connell who wears the torque today is a worthy successor’.
During this period Rory was twice awarded the prestigious title of Ireland’s Chef of the Year.
An opportunity to work with yet another great saw Rory leaving East Cork for Berkeley, California to join Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, a restaurant with a philosophy based on the strength of ingredients and cooking techniques that Rory both admired and already practiced through his continued involvement with Slow Food Ireland.
Today however he can be found teaching at the Ballymaloe Cookery School.
Rory was presented with the Good Food Ireland ‘Food Ambassador of the Year’ for 2013-2014 and with “International Ambassador of the Decade 2006 – 2016”
Rory’s much anticipated first book ‘Master It – How to Cook Today’ published by Fourth Estate won the André Simon award for food writing 2013.
Rorys TV show “How to Cook Well” airs on RTE Television and had been syndicated for transmission in South Africa, Hungary, Canada, USA and Israel.
Rory is a founding director of the Ballymaloe Litfest.
Rorys latest book – Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books in September 2017, won the prestigious Bord Gais Energy Cookbook of the Year award in Ireland.