Obituary: Noreen Kinney, journalist and pioneering champion of Irish food and culinary arts


Noreen Kinney (née Hamilton), who died in Tampa Bay, Florida at the age of 81, was tireless in her promotion of Ireland, its products and its cuisine. Appointed Ireland’s Honorary Culinary Ambassador to the USA, she was a true pioneer of modern Irish cuisine.

he proud Corkonian was also a seasoned journalist and strong advocate for equality as a founding member of the Women’s Political Association in Cork and was elected as a representative of the Council for the Status of Women.

She had a remarkable life. Born in India, she has lived in the United Kingdom, Italy, Iran, Australia, Ireland and the United States. Returning to her ancestral roots in Crosshaven, she finally settled in Florida in 1990 with her daughters and their families.

Recognized as a pioneer of New Irish Cuisine by Bord Bia in 2002, she was also for many years Honorary Culinary Ambassador to the United States for Bord Fáilte. She actively used these roles to engender and consolidate cooperation among all those promoting Ireland and its food. His brown bread was a St. Patrick’s Day feature at the Publix supermarket chain across the United States.

Born in India to Irish parents, her father, Dr Jack Hamilton, served as a medic in the British Army in India for over 30 years. Noreen was educated in India and the UK, with a brief stint in Ireland.

She was an accomplished musician, reaching a professional level on the piano. However, his passion was to study, research and develop his culinary knowledge.

With her mother Evelyn, she loved to explore the various cuisines of India. She gathered her recipes, methodologies and tips directly from women she met across the world and viewed South Indian women as the best cooks and Irish produce as the best ingredients.

As a young woman, she lived in Italy where she worked for Columbia Pictures as a musician, and in Iran where she worked for the Shah of Iran’s son-in-law as a personal assistant – experiences that made her sophisticated. beyond his years.

At a world food conference in London, she met an American chemicals broker, Fred Kinney.

It was love at first sight, followed by a whirlwind romance and wedding five weeks later. They had a powerful and intense interest in global cuisine – he was an expert in Asian cuisine. She joined him in his travels around the world that took them to China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Hawaii, New Zealand and Panama. They settled in Sydney, Australia, where he had family, and she founded her first cooking school there.

However, she never settled there as she felt too isolated from her family. So she returned to Ireland with her husband and two young daughters and settled in Wood House, Coolmore, Carrigaline. With strong Cork ancestry, she was no fan and quickly amazed locals with her energy, entrepreneurial spirit, endurance and independence.

Seeing a lack of representation and understanding of international foods in Ireland, Noreen began offering cooking demonstrations at her home. They were so popular that she started offering classes in Cork City, which sold out completely.

She found herself overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to learn more about global cuisine and wanting to enrich their own skills and creativity by making the best use of the excellent Irish ingredients. It wasn’t her goal to teach anyone how to cook.

Its goal was to expand existing repertoires and add more flavor to existing foods. In Noreen’s opinion, Ireland was virgin territory but with all the ingredients to create a foodie’s paradise.

She has taught culinary arts and lectured nationally, working with the hospitality industry to enrich their offering. In February 1976 The Sunday press called Noreen a “super cook” and, over the next few years, made numerous television and radio appearances.

She founded the Irish Gourmet Society and made the Beamish & Crawford Brewery’s Vault Room a favorite spot. After moving to Florida, she organized numerous ‘Ireland food tours’ before Covid-19 hit.

She wrote “Out and About with Noreen” for The Cork Examiner for six years, kept a chronicle in the Social and personal magazine for eight years and has published extensively in other national publications. She has produced a flood of articles not only on food, cooking and the culinary arts, but also on current affairs and women’s rights.

This article was modified on 10/19/2021 at 5:20 p.m.

Noreen is survived by her daughters Muirgheal and Rachel and their families, both living in the Tampa Bay area of ​​Florida.

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