Meet Our Guests – Lori McCarthy
Welcome to a new series on the Vale House Kitchen blog! We always love meeting the people who choose to come on our courses, and over the past three years we’ve had some fascinating folks join us who’ve gone on to do brilliant things with the knowledge and skills they acquire. In this second post, we chat to Lori McCarthy, who came all the way from Canada to go on one of our Butchery Courses.
There’s no better way to get to know a country than through its food. Lori McCarthy, founder of cookery school Cod Sounds in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, feels just as passionate about this as we do, and we were delighted when she chose to visit Vale House as part of a research tour of cookery schools in the UK. Having worked in the restaurant industry for 17 years (spending 7 of those as a personal chef), Lori set up Cod Sounds in 2015, with the aim of preserving and promoting the traditional way of life she had grown up with.
A wild and beautiful corner of the world, Newfoundland and Labrador has a rich cultural history of hunting, foraging and fishing, and the skills required have been carefully passed down from one generation to the next. With Cod Sounds, Lori has become part of that tradition, and has been surprised and delighted by the strength of the response. Seeking to expand her offering, she came to Vale House to take our Game Butchery class, and was inspired by the enthusiasm and knowledge shown by course tutor Tim Maddams, the personal feel of our family-run business, and the sense of deep roots connecting us to the land and to our food. Most of all, it gave her confidence that butchering and preserving were skills that people are still fascinated to learn, and she went home to run her first butchery demo – which promptly sold out. Now, game butchery, curing and sausage-making form a regular part of the courses to be found at Cod Sounds, alongside other traditional skills such as bread-making and preserving.
It’s not just about the classroom, either – guests can join Lori on foraging walks, which end with a proper Newfoundland ‘boil-up’ on the beach, preparing fresh local food over an open fire, or for a casual dinner party which combines demonstrations, hands-on cookery and, of course, plenty of tasting. Through everything that Cod Sounds offers, Lori’s love for the land, for sharing food, and for sharing stories is clear to see. Through the Livyers Cultural Alliance, a multigenerational community group dedicated to celebrating the food of the province, she’s part of On The Hunt, a project to visit local communities and to preserve their knowledge and techniques for future generations.
At Vale House, we love helping our guests to connect with their food, with the countryside around them, and with traditional skills that are shared with generations past. In Lori, we’ve found a kindred spirit, and we’re so happy to have helped Cod Sounds continue to grow.