Bake Fest founder Jennie Browne believes that baking is a crucial life skill that should be taught to children from a young age. Ms Browne, herself a lifelong baker, is passionate about the accrued benefits of baking and cooking.
''It should be like the ABC, baking and cooking should be part of the curriculum in national schools. It is vitally important that we learn the basics and know how to make healthy dishes. It was always expected that women especially would just automatically know these things but I know myself from teaching classes that people are lacking in basic skills.''
Jenny's love of the kitchen was honed from her mother and grandmother, who were both avid bakers. "I have so many great memories - like I'm sure others do of baking going on constantly in my house - tarts, scones, spotted dick, you name it. I never remember my granny using a weighting scales or a recipe, she didn't need to, she was so used to it. It seems life has just got so busy now, there is no time for baking anymore, and it is a pity if these skills are going to be lost by the next generation."
She believes it is an activity that has an incredibly silent power. "Baking or indeed cooking can be very therapeutic. If you are stressed about something, it can get you focused and take you away from worries and negative thoughts, maybe for a short time but enough time to start a healing process mentally.''
Jennie used to travel to a lot of baking shows in the UK and felt there were no events of a similar nature taking place in Ireland, to showcase Irish producers and suppliers. This led to the founding of Bake Fest in Galway, which is devoted to all things baking, and the art of cake decorating. Bake Fest will celebrate its third year in operation with a two day event in Leisureland this weekend.
It is something there is clearly an appetite for, as attendance over the past two years has been between eight and 10 thousand people. There will be lots happening over the two days with a large number of traders showcasing their wares, along with demonstrations, classes, and interactive workshops. A flavor of some of the food producers in situ includes artisan popcorn company Cornude, Mr Waffle, Kylemore Abbey, Oh Egg, Mulberry's, Chocolates by Sara Beth, Lily and Pearl, Sugar and Spice, and Athenry based Tribal Foods. Kenny's Bookshop will also be on site selling cookbooks.
Some other big names from the world of food attending include Catherine Leydon of Odlums, TV3 chef Ali Honour, Emer Murray of Goya's Cafe, Jess Murphy of Kai Café and Restaurant, and the ICA ladies, who will be demonstrating the art of making brown bread.
Real Bread Ireland - a network of craft bakers whose aim is to encourage us all to eat better bread, whether we buy it or make it ourselves - will also be carrying out demonstrations.
Those with an interest in raw food and healthier treats can go along to see Natasha Czopor of Natasha’s Living Food giving a demonstration on Saturday. Natasha set up her company with the vision to create food which is not only appealing to the eye but food that is also natural, healthy, and delicious.
One of the highlights of the weekend is the sugar craft competition, which this year will be judged by Twink, aka Adele King, who has a huge love for baking and cake decorating. The competition is open to children, home bakers and professionals, with 10 different categories in total to suit all levels of ability. This year Bake Fest has added a special ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ category which encourages bakers to create a masterpiece which represents the Wild Atlantic Way.
+Bake Fest will take place in Leisureland on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm, visit www.bakefestgalway.com for more details. Anyone who tweets #bakefest2015 will be in with a chance to win a cookery class at the world famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in East Cork.