Teresa Roche of Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese on her life in food
The woman behind the award-winning Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese, Teresa Roche is a fourth generation dairy farmer who’s passionate about the Irish food scene.
A qualified nurse who returned from overseas to start her business on the family farm at the foothills of the Slieve Aughty mountains in Galway, Teresa Roche set up the premium Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese five years ago. A fourth generation dairy farmer, Teresa’s family have been farming their land for over 200 years.
Passionate about empowering women in agriculture and creating jobs in rural Ireland, Teresa is also an advocate for small businesses, and believes in the importance of educating the hospitality sector about Irish producers doing new, innovative and exciting things.
Here, we catch up with Teresa to chat about everything from her favourite local restaurants, culinary inspirations, and areas for improvement in the Irish foodie scene…
What are your earliest memories of food?
Eating at my grandmother’s house — she is making potato cakes and my mother is making brown bread.
How would you describe your relationship with food?
Our house has always been about food and nutrition — food has always been a healthy and positive part of our conversations and lifestyle.
What was the first meal you learned to cook?
Spaghetti bolognese with lots of cheese on top was always a favourite.
How did food become a part of your career?
I was reared on a dairy farm and, as farmers, we are food producers. I have always had an interest in knowing where food comes from and I wanted to showcase this. Travelling the world and with interest in the agri farm food business, I thought it would be beneficial to our farm to diversify and add value using our raw material. In Ireland, we are producing the highest quality ingredient milk from our grass fed cows. I started my career as a nurse and began a cheese making business five years ago. It’s always been about education and showcasing our cheese with our farm shop/cheese tours, which have been a great add on to my business.
What’s your go-to breakfast?
Sourdough, poached eggs, spinach and bacon.
If you’re impressing friends and family at a dinner party, what are you serving up?
I love to place lots of homemade dishes on the dinner table that are full of freshest local ingredients and home grown seasonal veggies, and the best Irish beef. I also love Irish seafood, oysters and salmon are my favourite. Of course, there’s always going to be a Kylemore cheeseboard before dessert, which is my mother Julie’s rhubarb or apple tart with cream.
Who is your culinary inspiration?
I admire so many! My culinary inspirations are the students who have just visited me from culinary sciences at A.T.U Galway, and Matthew O’Callaghan, a wonderful man who has inspired many cheese makers across Ireland and the UK.
Kai Galway’s Jess and David have been very supportive since I started my business, and I admire Jess’ talents in supporting females in business throughout Ireland.
What would your last meal on earth be?
Something homemade! I love my mother’s fresh brown bread, just out of the oven with lots of butter and fresh Irish crab meat — and a glass of wine.
What’s your go-to comfort food?
Anything with chocolate!
What’s the go-to quick meal you cook when you’re tired and hungry?
My ultimate would be melted Kylemore cheese on sourdough with Irish ham and mustard. I would pan fry the sandwich with more cheese melted on the outside — delicious!
What is one food or flavour you cannot stand?
I like all foods, no dislikes!
Dip in the sea always works — but I do like a curry chip!
Sweet or savoury?
Fine dining or pub grub?
I pick fine dining when I can.
Favourite restaurant in Ireland?
Blackrock Cottage restaurant in Galway.
Best coffee in Ireland?
Go-to beverage accompaniment?
Aged 10 year old whiskey and long aged cheese is a favourite pairing.
What are your thoughts on the Irish foodie scene?
It is a very exciting time, there are a lot of very talented chefs using local ingredients and supporting local small producers with interest in the provenance of their food and the producer. However, it is a difficult time for restaurants and producers, as inflation has increased costs for producers and buyers.
What’s your favourite thing about cooking?
The smell in the kitchen and taste of fresh cooked food.
What does food — sitting down to a meal with friends, mindfully preparing a meal, nourishment, etc — mean to you?
I feel planning a meal and deciding on the theme of the evening is exciting. I always think of friends coming and what atmosphere I would like to set, the food does the talking and I’m always about putting simple, quality food made with local ingredients on our dinner plates.
Food for thought — Is there room for improvement within the Irish food/restaurant/hospitality scene?
Yes! Absolutely there is room for improvement, and I am always advocating for more local producers and giving the opportunity for more small producers to be supported and given a chance to be placed on the menus of many restaurants. We, as producers, need to be educating the hospitality sector about our products.
Chef’s kiss — Tell us about one standout foodie experience you’ve had recently.
A standout foodie experience I recently had was at The Lodge at Ashford Castle with chef Johnathan Keane showcasing the very best of local Irish food producers, music and dancing, and promoting the very best of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Compliments to the chef — Now’s your chance to sing the praises of a talented chef, beloved restaurant or particularly talented foodie family member.
Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara — wonderful compliments to the chef and her team who showcase fabulous local foods on a menu incorporated with idyllic surroundings and landscape.
Secret ingredient — What, in your estimation, makes the perfect dining experience?
Ambience, food, and good service.
Imagery provided by Lisa Regan PR