That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Catriona Callaghan, The Bunnery, Kells, County Meath.
“I grew up on a mixed farm; my father produced beef and lamb as well as growing potatoes and grain.
That would have meant I grew up with a great understanding of where food comes from and the processes involved in getting it from farm to fork.
It probably was not until I had my own kids that I found a love of cooking and baking. When I was younger, being out on the farm was much more appealing than being in the kitchen.
I am a self-taught home cook; I have no formal culinary training, but it is amazing what you can learn online these days.
Moreover, I have done numerous courses since setting up my business on things such as marketing, social media etc.
Also, I took part in the ACORNS programme, which is funded by the DAFM (Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine), which is brilliant for any women running businesses in rural Ireland.
My husband, Paul, is a sheep farmer, so as a family, we are all involved in farming.
He gets plenty of help on the farm from our three sons: Shane, Paddy and Daniel, so I mainly work from the kitchen now, but I love this time of year, especially when little lambs are skipping around the fields.
Growing up on a farm gives you a great understanding of where food comes from and the work involved in getting it from farm to fork.
As a result, when cooking, you have a greater appreciation for fresh, locally produced ingredients and want to show them off to their best.
Bunnery Cookery School
Pre-Covid, I made occasion cakes from home, which all came to an abrupt end with lockdowns and the cancellation of all events.
On March 18th 2020, the kids came home from lambing and wanted to make scones.
I photographed what they were doing and documented the recipe on social media.
That post went viral, reaching over 1 million people, and that is where the idea of documenting my recipes online began.
I have since, with the help of our Local Enterprise Centre, turned it into a successful business, The Bunnery Online and have since taught 1000s of kids and adults through online courses and in-person summer camps.
I focus on how to cook basic easy food using readily found ingredients with as little specialist equipment as necessary.
My desire was to develop a profitable business while showing people how to cook simple everyday food.
I wanted to grow a community of people all interested in cooking with locally produced ingredients from scratch.
Also, I want to teach kids that being able to cook is an important life skill and to make them aware of where their food comes from.
The business is a full-time commitment for me. If I had a full-time job outside the home, I would probably work fewer hours, but I love what I do and would not swap it for anything.
I want to take the fear out of everyday cooking by showing how easy, affordable and accessible good food is to everyone.
I believe everyone can cook; some people just do not realise it yet.
My business is targeted at busy families; we have classes for kids, teens and adults and also run workshops for schools, corporates, groups and events.
We have a members’ club, and as a member, you get access to our private online group.
Here, I add 3-4 new recipes to this group page each week, plus one recipe aimed at kids, and we have a monthly cook-along on Zoom which is suitable for the whole family.
You can log in and cook with me live or watch the recording in your own time. All recipes are also emailed to each member weekly.
Being a member also gives you access to live Q&As, demos, free eBooks, discounts on camps/classes, plus lots more. You can join our members’ club through our website.
Our members’ club is online, but we also travel to schools, places of work and events to do in-person workshops/demos and have in-person kids’ summer camps also.
Our members’ club is €25 for one full year, and all other workshops/demos are priced individually.
We can provide demos or workshops for schools, corporates, events or groups on lots of different food topics, from healthy eating and easy dinners to cake decorating.
There are over 250 recipes on our members’ page and lots on our main social media pages, too – you will find us online as The Bunnery.
A typical day revolves around developing new recipes and recording content for our members’ club and social media pages, recipe testing and answering questions from all our online members.
I juggle my business with family life with great difficulty sometimes.
As my husband is a farmer, his working day can be flexible, so he can be around for kids’ collections and drop-offs when needed, which allows me to continue working or wait for something to finish cooking if needed.
My desire is to continue to build and develop my business and get as many people as possible into the kitchen and cooking with locally produced food.
I want to teach as many kids as possible where their food comes from and how to cook a simple meal.
I would love someday to put all my recipes together in a book if I can find someone to publish it.
My greatest achievement is having a happy family life with my husband and three boys, as well as a job I love doing.”
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