A couple of months back I received an email from Muriel Thornton, wife of Kevin Thornton, one of the best chefs in the country. I'd worked with Kevin a few years back. His son went to the school I work in and he'd come in and done a cookery demonstration as a fundraiser for a charity trip I was involved in with students in the school. Liane was in attendance that evening. The recent email was asking if we were looking to repeat the fundraiser - Muriel was emailing, out of the blue, to offer their help - and to check in to see how I was. They hadn't heard about Liane.
Telling people for the first time is hard. It's hard for me and it's hard for them. Not just the news (as if that isn't enough) but the emotions, the tone, the words, the atmosphere - I often don't know what the person at the other end has been through or is going through. Everyone has a tough time in life - as Blindboy of Rubberbandits fame recently said at a talk I was at (post about that to follow) - "Life is full of inevitable pain".
So in my reply I told Muriel about Liane's death and I asked if her and Kevin would be willing to work with me for Epilepsy Ireland. I received a lovely email in return - heartfelt, kind and open. From it came a Cookery Demonstration night - Kevin came in to the school and put on a 2 hour show. He cooked 5 dishes including tuna three ways & an incredible plate of duck and showed us how brilliant a chef he is. Watching him work was breathtaking - the speed of it, the know how, the style and skill. There was so much going on at any given time both in terms of what was being cooked but also regarding the interaction with the crowd. Kevin is an entertainer - he's funny, charismatic, creative and smart and had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He's also inspiring - the speed at which he works - a manic pace - and yet coupled with a deft precision. I was blown away, much like two years ago. Mid-cooking he also found time to ponder about life, about the importance of giving and the transience of human existence.
I spoke on the night about what it meant to me - somebody I am only getting to know offering his time, his skills, his food and his heart to Liane's fundraising. It is humbling. It makes me want to give more of myself to others. It inspired me and for that I will always be thankful. Another piece in the jigsaw that's slowly building around me...
ps photos from the night are online here:
- Read all about Kevin's latest business venture: Kevin Thornton's Kooks