‘Wee Buns’ is named as one of Discover NI’s Top Ten Things to Do

Mum and daughter Kate and Connie McAlpin with Mary Anne Mackle.
Mum and daughter Kate and Connie McAlpin with Mary Anne Mackle.

A cookery school near the village of Moy has just been named as one of Discover NI’s Top Ten Things to Do.

“Wee Buns” is owned by mother of twins Mary-Anne Mackle who started the business on a stall in Belfast’s St George’s market.

The Ballymaloe-trained chef had returned home to Northern Ireland after working at the renowned River Café in London. Before her move to London she had worked for Paul Rankin at Roscoff’s.

Mary-Anne said she had always intended to come home from London and her original intention was to open a café/deli. She said the market stall was designed to be a stopgap while she looked for premises but she ended up spending ten years there until she had her twins three years ago.

“I was self-employed so I couldn’t take maternity leave from the market for more than eight weeks or I would lose the pitch,” she said.

“I was already doing some midweek cookery classes at home, so I decided to expand on that and convert the garage into a state of the art facility. I really enjoy it and it allows me to work from home.”

Courses cost from £50 and include tea/coffee and scones. Mary-Anne delivers savoury cookery classes as well but explained that baking is far and away the most popular.

“I wasn’t actually trained as a pastry chef but there has been such a resurgence in the popularity of baking. That is where the demand is. I would love to do more cookery classes where people can learn to do savoury foods too, however the majority of bookings are for those sweet treats we all love. I like to combine traditional recipes and new flavours. Local, seasonal and organic ingredients are key.”

Each course can accommodate 10-12 people and are booked out weeks in advance. All recipes and equipment are provided and you get to take home what you make.

“My style is informal, it’s all about having fun. I do hands-on and demonstration classes and cater for all levels from complete beginners to more experienced cooks. The aim is to get stuck in. The children’s classes are really popular, and I love that. I think it’s really important to get these skills established from an early age.”