International baz

The International Charity Bazaar was founded in 2006 by the wife of the then Pakistani Ambassador to Ireland in order to raise money to provide relief to the victims of the devastating earthquake in Pakistan. Since then, the Bazaar has evolved and is now a firm future on the social calendar in Dublin. It had long been the wish of the organising committee to publish a cookbook of international recipes in order to raise funds.

This week I caught up with the woman who led the project, Siobhan Denham. I asked her where the whole idea started.

“As I had been involved in 2 similar projects previously in San Francisco and Lithuania — my husband is an Irish diplomat — I volunteered to lead the project,” Siobhan says. “I became involved in the Bazaar in 2011 following my return to Ireland. We started contacting all the resident embassies in Dublin during the summer asking them to submit recipes for the book. We were delighted with the response, with almost 50 embassies contributing over 150 recipes.”

The Embassies are assisted in their volunteer efforts by a group of Irish ladies known as the Irish friends. “The Bazaar patron is Norma Smurfit – well-known for her fundraising efforts,” adds Siobhan. “I submitted what I consider very traditional Irish recipes and which I have served with great pride when I have lived abroad. The recipes are Colcannon, Irish Stew, Guinness Chocolate cake and Irish coffee as well of course as delicious recipe for Brown Soda Bread.”

What caught your interest in the project? Have you always loved cooking? “I love simple food made from really fresh ingredients. We are so lucky to live on an island and to have access to fresh fish. I love to cook all kinds of fish with baked in the oven or pan fried and served with fresh vegetables.”

Why self-publishing? Siobhan says it was a straightforward decision: “We were very anxious to have a print copy of the book – the first idea was to produce a CD, but as someone who loves to cook myself, I felt that people want to have something to flick through. Thanks to Google, Lettertec popped up in my search. I was impressed by Frank’s immediate response and enthusiasm for the project and the fact that he had so much experience of producing charity cookbooks, so really after that I didn’t shop around. My first impression was a lasting one!”

All the funds for the cookbook, raised both last year and this, go to Irish charities. For more information on the Bazaar’s history and mission, see their website