Our story began in the 1930s when Ivan Allen was growing tomatoes in his glasshouses in Shanagarry, Co. Cork. Ivan’s wife Myrtle, would create a delicious tomato relish with the glut of tomatoes, naturally preserving them to be enjoyed throughout the year providing a tasty accompaniment to sandwiches and cold meats.
Soon this recipe became a family favourite and was a staple on the ever-growing Allen family table. Myrtle Allen taught herself how to cook and opened a restaurant in her dining room in Ballymaloe House in 1964. At this time it was very unusual for a woman to be pioneering her own business and her food was quite different to what was available at the time, as she cooked local produce and wrote the dinner menu every day when she saw what the various food producers brought to the kitchen door. She went on to become the first female chef in Ireland to be awarded a Michelin Star.
Yasmin Hyde, daughter of Ivan and Myrtle Allen, was immersed in the family business from a very young age while growing up at Ballymaloe House Hotel. By her mother’s side, she learned the importance of using the best quality ingredients to make delicious food. Yasmin also had a keen eye for business and could see how popular her mother’s Ballymaloe Relish recipe had become.
The first few years of Ballymaloe Relish were, as with any small family business, full of trial and error. Yasmin put an adapted portacabin in her back garden and there she made Ballymaloe Relish. She then drove in a hand-me-down Lada to put the relish on the supermarket shelves. As the business grew, so did her family and soon Yasmin was a mother to four children and successfully running what would soon become a much-loved Irish food brand.