Grub Circus is a two-day programme of deliciously irreverent culinary chaos, masticatory mayhem and food-filled fun for all ages that takes place at All Together Now in Curraghmore House, Waterford.  

The food stage at the festival is curated by food writer Joe McNamee, from The Irish Examiner, who also acts as MC of all activities for the weekend, from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th August. 

He is joined by a lineup of star names from the Irish food world, including: Darina Allen (Ballymaloe Cookery School), Paul Flynn (The Tannery), Kevin Thornton, Martin Shanahan (Fishy Fishy), Kevin Aherne (Sage Midleton), Holly Dalton (Gertrude, Dublin), JR Ryall (Ballymaloe House), Enda McEvoy (Loam, Galway), Anna Haugh (Myrtle, London), Oisin Davis (The Virgin Mary Bar, Dublin), Andy Noonan (Big Grill Festival), GastroGays and Belfast’s Bia Rebel, hailed by Observer food critic Jay Rayner as producers of the very best ramen in Ireland and Britain. 
Grub Circus kicks off on Saturday morning at 12pm. See full programme below... 


*FERMENTALISM – A programming strand exploring the links between bio-fermented foods, plant-based diets and good food in general with our physical and mental wellbeing. 

12pm * JUICIE JIM The Svengali of Sprouting and Maestro of Microgreens, ’Juicie’ Jim Brindley kicks off Grub Circus by using his extensive plant knowledge to concoct a super healing hangover smoothie from wild foods foraged from the nearby fields and woods and while the Nutribullet does its thing, Sarah the Nettle Fairy is going to give him a nettle flogging! (MC: Karen O’Donoghue) 

12.10PM * MARIA THE DAIRY QUEEN Ballymaloe Cookery School ‘Dairy Queen’ Maria Walsh who, as part of her day job, makes butter, yoghurt, buttermilk, cheese, along with kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha, as well as treating herself and the cows with herbs and homeopathy, talks about the positive impact of her daily work and life on her mental and physical health while dishing out something tasty for the audience. (MC: Karen O’Donoghue) 

12.20PM * COFFEE CULTURES Cloud Picker Coffee’s Peter Stzal makes a ‘Coff-bucha’, using coffee bean husks while Oisin Davis (Virgin Mary) makes a non-alcoholic nitro coffee cocktail in collaboration with Waterford-based Raven Nitro Coffee, and Colin Harmon (3FE) rustles up some ‘Cowboy Coffee’. (MC: Karen O’Donoghue) 

12.30PM * MINDFUL MASTICATION: GROW, COOK, EAT Kevin O’Toole (Chef/Proprietor, Chameleon Restaurant, Dublin) and Helena Walsh (Garden Therapist, St Mary’s Health Campus, Cork) talk about and demonstrate the power and importance of mindfulness when it comes to food: from planting the seed to nurturing the plant to harvesting, preparation, cooking and finally swallowing the very last morsel. (MC: Dee Laffan, editor of FOOD&WINE) 

1PM * KNEAD, EAT, SLEEP, REPEAT Real Bread Ireland Some of Ireland’s very finest craft bakers, all members of Real Bread Ireland, assemble to break bread and share their stories (and breads!) of how RBI grew from just six original bakers to a 32-county support network with over 100 members and new members joining every week, all leading the charge as part of Ireland’s sourdough revolution and the building of a truly sustainable Irish baking sector. Featuring: Patrick Ryan (Firehouse Bakery); Sarah Richards (Seagull Bakery, Tramore); Rob Meyer (Holy Bagels); and RBI Mastermind Keith Bohanna. 

1.30PM KILLER STEAK, OFFAL GOODNESS Andy Noonan (Big Grill) and Michael Quinn (RAI Irish Chef of the Year 2012) go head to head in a Killer Steak Cook-off using their own personal favourite cut of the very best of Irish beef before talking about sustainable nose-to-tail meat-eating and cooking up a favourite offal dish. (MC: Niamh Shields) 

2.10PM START YOUR OWN FOOD BUSINESS: Food Trucks & Coffee Shops Fancy opening your own food truck? Like to spend the day knocking out lattes in your own coffee shop? Learn all about the perils, pitfalls and, hopefully, perks from Colin Harmon (3FE Coffee, Dublin) and Brian Donnelly and Jenny Holland, (Belfast’s Bia Rebel), while Brian dishes up some of the same superb ramen that moved Observer food critic Jay Rayner to recently call it the very best ramen in Ireland and Britain. Also joining the party will be Peter Stzal (Cloud Picker Coffee) as he and Colin talk about what it takes to open your own coffee shop and MC Michelle Darmody should also have more than a passing knowledge of same as the former founding proprietor of Dublin’s Cake Cafe and Slice. (MC: Michelle Darmody) 

2.30PM CHEF COLLAB & NEIGHBOURFOOD Chef Chad Byrne, founder of the hugely popular young chef mentoring programme, Chef Collab, aimed at encouraging young people to consider cheffing as a career, will mentor a random audience member to produce a dish while talking about his series of nationwide pop-up supper nights pairing young aspiring chefs with some of the top names in the industry. Also on stage will be Jack ‘Rocketman’ Crotty to talk about Neighbourfood, a new initiative to bring the wealth of fabulous produce from Irish farmer’s markets to those who can’t get to an actual farmer’s market via an online platform. (MC: Michelle Darmody) 

3PM SOMETHING IN THE WATER The first of Grub Circus’s two flagship solution-driven public debates featuring a panel of Irish experts. As always, the Grub Circus approach is not only to find the faults but to also seek solutions. With the oceans slowly suffocating and fish stocks around the world being eradicated at a nightmarish level, Grub Circus looks at the state of the world’s rivers, lakes and seas and what asks what, if anything, can be done to revive and preserve them. Speakers: Sally Barnes (Woodcock Smokehouse, Slow Fish Ireland), Martin Shanahan (Fishy Fishy restaurant, Kinsale) Susan Steele (Chief Sea Fisheries Protection Officer), Pat “The Queen’s Fishmonger” O’Connell, Mikey Walsh (Fisherman), Kieran Healy (Fisherman). (MC: Joe McNamee) 

4.30PM OFF HIS TROLLEY Ballymaloe pastry chef JR Ryall who recently accepted the World’s Best Dessert Trolley Award on behalf of Ballymaloe House at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards, does what he does best and serves up something sweet from that legendary dessert trolley to an extremely lucky audience, while talking about what it was like to throw up a promising academic career to train under Myrtle Allen. (MC: Niamh Shields) 

BACCHUS AND THE VERY BIG CUP The World of Irish Wine Granted, we may have little or no native Irish wines but we certainly have some of Ireland’s finest wine and drinks writers, brewers, importers and more, coming together to create liquid mayhem on the stage with plenty of opportunities for the audience to join in and taste the fun. Bubbles sees Fionnuala Harkin (Wines Direct) take up the baton on behalf of that Spanish favourite, Cava, while Pascal Rossignol (Le Caveau) rejoins the battle, championing the current hipster’s current hero, ‘Pet Nat’ aka Pétillant Naturel—the audience samples both and decides the winner. Audience Blind Tasting does exactly what it says on the tin or, rather, the labels of some very nice wines selected by L’Atitude 51 proprietor Beverley Matthews, which the audience must then taste and identify to win a prize. Writer’s Block sees some of Ireland’s leading beverage experts divide up into two teams for a combination blind tasting/wine quiz, rinsing gobs and racking brains, as MC & Quizmistress Aoife Carrigy attempts to control the ensuing chaos. Featuring: Susan Boyle, Judith Boyle (Two Sisters Brewing), Leslie Williams (Irish Examiner), Corinna Hardgrave (Sunday Times, Irish Independent), Colm McCan (formerly Ballymaloe House sommelier, now Ballymaloe Cookery School Wine Teacher, Le Caveau wine importers).


11.30AM KENWOOD KIDZ KOOKING KOMPETITION A real family favourite at last year’s inaugural Grub Circus, two teams of young children will be mentored by star chef mentors, Enda McEvoy (Michelin-starred chef-proprietor of Loam, Galway) and Kevin Aherne (award-winning chef-proprietor, Sage Midleton) competing for prizes of super Kenwood kitchen appliances. (MC: Kate Ryan) 

12.15PM VERONICA STEELE: THE MOST BLESSED CHEESEMAKER Enjoy a blissful Sunday morning breakfast of world-class Milleens cheese and Black Twist ‘coffees’ while listening to Susan and Quinlan Steele share memories of their mother, the late, lamented and quite legendary Veronica Steele, creator of Milleens, the cheese that started the modern Irish speciality food producer movement. (MC: Joe McNamee) 

12.45PM TRULY SUSTAINABLE VEGANISM The Irish Locavore Menu The great irony of veganism as a sustainable food movement is that it is often anything but, with monoculture crops such as avocados first destroying agriculture in the places they are grown before then leaving a massive carbon footprint as they are transported around the world to our supermarkets. Then there’s the issue of four or five multi-nationals cornering the market in processed fake meats and other vegan ‘foods’, which can only add to the continued dysfunction of the global food system. Virginia O’Gara (Chef/Activist, My Goodness Vegan Food), Ethna McDermott (Chef/Proprietor, Beo Wine Bar & Kitchen, Dublin) and Kitty Scully (TV Horticulturalist and Head Grower, Voxpro, Cork) make the case for the seasonal locavore eating of Irish plant-based produce while cooking up something tasty. (MC: Karen O’Donoghue) 

1.15PM THE VIRGIN MARY ON TOUR Drinks maestro Oisin Davis, of Dublin no-alcohol bar, The Virgin Mary, brings his impeccable skills to bear to create exquisite cocktails that just happen to be alcohol-free, using Irish-made products, some even featuring elsewhere on the Grub Circus line up. (MC: Niamh Shields) 

1.30PM SINGING FOR YOUR SUPPER Joe O’Leary, formerly lead singer with the late and very lamented band, Fred, and now co-proprietor, along with partner Caroline O’Donnell, of Levi’s pub, (in Ballydehob, in West Cork, currently RAI Munster Small Pub of the Year and recent IMRO Best Small Live Venue) treats the Grub Circus audience to a medley of tasty tunes, a clutch of songs with a food-related theme. 

2PM BACK TO THE LAND Public Debate The second of Grub Circus’s two flagship solution-driven public debates featuring a panel of Irish experts. As always, the Grub Circus approach is not only to find the faults but to also seek out the solutions. With the UN predicting the planet has just 60 harvests remaining before the earth’s soil becomes completely fallow and no longer able to sustain life, Grub Circus takes a solution-driven approach to one of the most pressing issues of our time. Speakers: Darina Allen (Ballymaloe Cookery School), Kitty Scully (TV Horticulturalist), Fergal Anderson Farmer (Leaf and Root Organic Galway) and food activist (co-founder of Talamh Beo), Dr Oliver Moore (Cloughjordan Eco-village, ARC 2020), Donal Chambers (Kinsale College Permaculture & Sustainability Course Director) (MC: Joe McNamee) 

3.30PM KENWOOD FOOD KWIZ One of the most successful events of last year, the uproarious Kenwood Food Kwiz returns once more with Idle Wall proprietor and founder of the Great Irish Foodie Quiz, chef Áine Maguire, firing out the questions at two teams, each led by one member of the GastroGays, (Russell James Alford and Patrick Hanlon) and also featuring a member of the public, a drinks expert, a food writer and a musician, with super Kenwood prizes for the winning participating members of the public. (MC/QuizMistress: Áine Maguire) 

4.15PM CHEFS’ OBSTACLE COURSE Another hit on last year’s programme, the Chef’s Obstacle course sees TV chef Paul Flynn renouncing his competitor’s role to see if he can fare any better this time around as Master of Ceremonies, as some of Ireland’s very finest chefs attempt a series of culinary-related (or not at all!!) challenges, including Chef’s Yoga, One- Handed Cooking, Blind Tasting and a few other deeply inhumane challenges to be revealed on the day! (CHEFS: Anna Haugh (Myrtle, London); Enda McEvoy (Loam, Galway); Mark Jennings (Pilgrims, Rosscarbery); Keith Boyle (Lady Anne Restaurant, Castlecomer); Holly Dalton (Gertrude, Dublin) (MC: Paul Flynn; ‘Beautiful Assistants’: Michael Quinn & William Toft) 

5.15PM LET THE SPIRITS KEEP OUR MUSIC HIGH Cocktail Chaos While the Grub Circus management utterly reject any suggestions that this is nothing other than an excuse to sip on some very splendid cocktails based around fine Irish spirits, this event is an excellent excuse to sip on some very splendid cocktails based around fine Irish spirits while kicking back and enjoying the fun. Justin Green (Bertha’s Revenge) and Patrick Shelley (Kalak Vodka, Ornabrak Gin) conduct a gin masterclass before joining Jennifer Nickerson (Tipperary Boutique Distillery), Emma Riordan Davis (Born to Blossom Syrups & Cordials) and Conor Coughlan (Black Twist Coffee Whiskey Liqueur) to compete for the utterly worthless Cockamamie Cocktail Crown, with the imbibing audience as the ultimate arbiters. (MC: Joe McNamee)