5 Minutes with Allegra Benitah

Allegra Benitah, Challah Bread, I Love Cooking

Allegra Benitah is a former corporate tax lawyer who walked away from her legal career to be a full-time, hands-on Mum and ended up becoming a TV Chef best known for her exquisite Challah Bread. 

Allegra has appeared on This Morning, Good Morning Britain and James Martin’s Saturday Morning as well as RTE Today with Maura and Daithi and Ireland AM. Although she lives in London, she spends a lot of time in Ballycotton, Cork with her family. 

Allegra has also been a guest chef at the Ballymaloe Cookery School with Darina Allen. 

Allegra currently presents an Instagram Live Series called Allegra & Friends with different special guests twice a week to entertain and inspire people during these challenging times.

We caught up with Allegra to find out more about her:

  • Why did you become a chef?

It was a total accident!  I qualified as a tax lawyer at at Magic Circle Law Firm in London and worked all over the world for five years.  However, following the birth of my first child, I decided to walk away from my legal career so I could be a full-time hands-on mum.  I didn’t see how I could be both the lawyer my firm needed me to be and the mother my son needed me to be. 

One rainy day, I decided to bake Challah Bread to entertain my children but, instead of making the usual plain, traditional bread, we decided to make Rainbow Challah Bread.  It was such a success that my children asked me to bake a different Challah Bread every week and my career as a Chef was born.

  • What was one of the very first things you ever cooked?

Chicken Soup with my mum, Vanessa Feltz.  This is perhaps the most important recipe in my mum’s culinary repertoire as it has been passed down by generations of women in our family.  It’s vital to know how to make it from a young age!

  • What is your ultimate comfort food recipe?

Challah Bread and Butter Pudding with Apple, Pear and Cinnamon served with lashings of fresh cream.

  • What are your top 3 ingredients you couldn’t live without and why?

Flour (plain and/or strong white bread) because it’s essential for breadmaking and is the base ingredient for most of the recipes I bake.

Eggs from our own lovely hens (we currently have six Hyline Hens in Ballycotton) because they are so versatile and can be enjoyed in so many different ways.

Rhubarb from our vegetable patch because it’s my number one favourite fruit and I adore the taste.

  • What are your top tips for people cooking at home?
  1. Involve your kids!  It may be messy and take a bit more time and preparation, but get your kids involved in the kitchen from a young age.  Let them take ownership of mealtimes and teach them how to budget, plan and cook meals.  This is a key life skill and the start of a healthy relationship with cooking and food.
  2. Grow your own!  You can grow your own fruit and vegetables even if you don’t have a garden or any outdoor space.  Recycle yoghurt pots, water bottles and other plastic containers by making a hole in the bottom for drainage, planting seeds and leaving on a sunny windowsill.  You will feel so proud when you harvest your produce and the taste is unlike anything you can find in the supermarket!
  3. Try new things!  Don’t be intimidated by lots of unusual ingredients in a recipe.  Have a go and don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out restaurant quality the first time.  
  • Name one dish everyone should know how to cook.

Tiramisu.  It’s a relatively simple dish with only a few ingredients but can cause culinary fireworks when done well.

Allegra will be doing an IGTV takeover on Sunday 7th June 2020 at 1pm. She will be making this beautiful Elderflower Challah Bread. Get the recipe here.

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