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This was Theatre of Food 2016!

Electric Picnic is an annual arts and music festival which has been staged since 2004 at Stradbally Hall in Stradbally, Co. Laois. Originally a 1-day event with 10,000 attendees the festival has grown exponentially the last 12 years to now hosting 55,000 people over a three-day weekend.
An eclectic mix of music, cookery demos, tastings, workshops and discussions, The Theatre of Food Marquee is the flagship of food at the festival. The brainchild of John & Sally McKenna, this year yet again ToF attracted an impressive list of luminaries from the Irish food community including Kevin Thornton, Ross Lewis, Derry Clarke, JP McMahonGary O’Hanlon, Clodagh McKenna, and Paul Flynn.
Mark Murphy, Takashi Miyazaki, JP McMahon, Darina Allen & myself!
Mark Murphy, Takashi Miyazaki, JP McMahon, Darina Allen & myself!

For the second year running Ardkeen Quality Food Store were invited to provision the ingredients for Theatre of Food. Of course, we brought the very best of Ireland’s artisan and craft food producers to the stage and to the attention of some of Ireland's top chefs.

Ralph Rolle & John McKenna
Ralph Rolle & John McKenna
There is nothing conventional about the Theatre of Food -  superstar drummer Ralph Rolle of Chic, showed us how to get down whilst making his amazing cookies, and treated the crowd to an uproariously uplifting rendition of Bowies ‘Let’s Dance’.
The clean eating, fun loving, vegan twins Stephen & David from The Happy Pear in Greystones provided lots of laughs and some sound advice on eating healthily, whilst food bloggers, YouTube stars and cookbook authors Natural Born Feeder, Roz Purcell and The Virtuous Tart, Susan Jane White gave inspiring demos on how to enjoy tasty treats with healthy ingredients.
Mark Murphy from Dingle Cookery School
Mark Murphy from Dingle Cookery School
Patrick Ryan from Firehouse Bakery gave an apt introduction and demo on making Sourdough bread on the first day of #SourdoughSeptember letting us know that Sourdough has been ‘trendy’ since about 10,000 BC!
Paul Williams from Canteen in Limerick convinced us food can be fast, simple local and good. We certainly felt healthier on Saturday morning when we finished sampling his glorious cooking.
Mark Murphy from Dingle Cookery School provided an education in fermentation, "My Gluten Free Kitchen" author Gearoid Lynch  Katie Sanderson (Dilisk Project), and April Danann gave us an insight into how food is medicine for us all.
Cork cuisine was well represented by Kate Lawlor, Fenns Quay; Takashi Miyazaki from Miyazaki and Gautham Iyer from Iyers Cafe, a great amalgamation of personalities and flavours…. like any good dish should be!
Duo, Kevin O’Toole from Chameleon (Temple Bar) and Sham Hanifa from The Cottage Restaurant (Leitrim) were utterly coconuts, shaking things up with a pretty ‘refreshing’ Pina Colada. Another dynamic duo were JPMcMahon and Sunil Ghai whose discussion journeyed through two continents of food.
Caitlin Ruth (Deasys) & Kate Lawlor (Fenns Quay)
Caitlin Ruth (Deasys) & Kate Lawlor (Fenns Quay)
Music and food were superbly intertwined with the additions of husband and wife food and music teams, Audrey McDonald and Tom Dunne along with Aoife McElwain and Niall Byrne (aka Nialler9) 
An amazing kitchen team was headed up by the indomitable Caitlin Ruth of Michelin Bib Gourmand Deasy’s Restaurant in Clonakilty.
This was all in addition to workshops for all ages including kid’s pizza making, wine tastings, and a pasta making competition.
The Happy Pear & The Ardkeen Team
The Happy Pear & The Ardkeen Team

Of course, the weekend finished up with a knees up dance party hosted by Eurotoques Ireland…if you’re sorry you missed it (and you should be!) you can find many of the recipes from the weekend in our recipe section of ardkeen.com.

It was virtually non-stop and there was so much to take in over the 3 days. One after another, the country’s top chefs and food writers inspired us with their experience and wisdom. But it was never too serious or preachy and there was always time for a bit of craic. Team McKenna run this wonderful corner of Electric Picnic and should be very proud of what they do. All of us at Ardkeen Quality Food Store are certainly proud and delighted to be part of it. [Scroll down to see the weekend in pictures]

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