We recently spoke to award-winning food writer and TV chef Catherine Fulvio about her childhood and special memories.
Catherine Fulvio, an ardent supporter of fresh local produce, is one of Ireland’s top culinary stars, an award-winning food writer, TV Chef and the proprietor of Ballyknocken House & Cookery School, in Co. Wicklow.
Catherine knows how good food brings family and friends together. Growing up on a working farm she has a strong connection with the land and appreciates the importance of fresh, quality, seasonal ingredients in producing flavoursome food and the rewards that it brings.
Married to a Sicilian, her recipes are delicious, do-able dishes for every occasion and her style of cooking is modern Irish, with an Italian influence. A mother of two so she also knows the challenges faced by busy mums.
Whereabouts do you come in your family?
What is your earliest childhood memory?
A super sized hen looking back at me through the glass on the back door of the farm. I screamed but then when you have only just learned to stand upright and then you come face to face with a bird the same size as you, it's scary!
Did you have a favourite toy as a young child?
A doll, called Linda – she was never the same after I decided I wanted to be a hairdresser and chopped off her locks!
What are your memories of your school days? Were you a good pupil?
I enjoyed secondary school more than national school but then, I was terrified of one of the teachers in national school and that had an impact on me.
I got over it as soon as I walked in the doors of secondary school. And yes, I tried hard at school, knuckled down to study but had lots of fun too.
Who was your best friend growing up? Are you still in touch with them?
Oh, I had lots of friends but one friend from national school that I still meet up with is Ellen.
What was your favourite food or drink as a child?
Treat nights was rice pudding – mum made a vat load of it to feed us four hungry kids – we would come in from helping milk the cows and eat all around us. I also loved my grandmother's white soda bread with raisins.
Did you have any pets?
Lots – cats, dogs and two ponies. I loved them all, especially the ponies…. I had them for well over twelve years.
What were your favourite games to play outside with friends?
"Ay-yai-yakee" – we learnt this game of hide and seek from a family from Puerto Rico that stayed in our bed and breakfast for almost three months one summer. There were twelve children in the family. We had so much fun that summer.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A postmistress, a teacher, a professional show jumper….. I had lots of dreams but teacher was the main one.
How do you think childhood now compares to childhood back then?
I think it was simpler then – we did not have as many distractions. We either helped in the B&B or on the farm or we played. We really didn’t watch much TV and of course, we had no electronic toys. It was simply brilliant.
Catherine has firmly established herself as a familiar face on TV screens both at home and abroad.
She has just launched her third cookbook, Eat Like an Italian – Recipes for the Good Life, which has been shortlisted for the Bord Gais Irish Book Awards 2012. It provides an insight into the Italian diet and their approach to food and food culture and how to live a little bit of the Dolce Vita!.
Catherine is also the food columnist in the RTE Guide and has a regular slot on the RTE daily show, Today
For more information on Catherine or Ballyknocken House & Cookery School please visit www.ballyknocken.com.