Paul on the sea shore

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Forage by the sea

As the spring and summer greens by the shore begin to come to life where I forage anyway. Samphire is in full swing and will remain so until the mid to late autumn.

We will be using these constant in the restaurant over the coming months, in a variety of different ways with different ingredients so stay tuned to the Facebook page for more info on that.

While out foraging on the beach, there are several edibles that have as many different flavours and effects of the palette as there are edibles to choose from. Some of the samphire can be soft and fresh salty while others have a lemony hit. Sea lavender I spotted recently poking through while it is edible its a ronseal ingredient in that it tastes like soap if eaten on its own, this however will be used, to infuse an oil or pickling liquid to add a floral tone to a dish, so be careful which one you pick as it resembles some samphires.

As it’s still early in the season bring a sharp scissors and ensure you keep as many plants rooted in the ground so they can grow and spread.

We will keep you updated on Croí restaurants Facebook page and as usual behind the scenes pics on my own Instagram and Twitter @chefpaulc.

Stay tuned for some exciting news in the coming weeks.

Paul on wild food

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Forage and grow 2017

As many of you know by now wild garlic is coming to the end of its season, so grab it while it’s there to keep it for the rest of the year preserve it by pickling it or making a pesto.
Don’t worry there are many herbs coming through in its place so there is no shortage of wild greens, wild chervil, wood sorrel, Dandelion, hawthorn, nasturtium to name but a few.

Alongside these however are early summer berries, wild strawberries also known as pine berries, and berberries or firethorn, one of these is new to me but the other I’ve known about for years only ever picking once while on a stroll as a child, I’ve never forgottenwhere they were, the picture of them this year on my Instagram @chefpaulc is from the spot I first are them.

The berberries likewise ripening over the next week or 2, can’t wait to get holt of them to be used in the kitchen. Meanwhile at home my strawberries are continuing to grow and ripen into beautiful fruit that I’m proud to use in the restaurant. Along with everything else that’s growing in the tunnel which is proving to be a hit with staff and customers alike. I must say my foraging though it has taken a back seat still rears its face every week for herbs and seagreens, with one other item flowers, they serve a dual purpose to me, a little flavour pocket and a little pip of colour to each dish in which they feature.

Stay tuned to the restaurant @croitralee on Facebook Twitter Instagram.
Or myself @chefpaulc on Twitter and Instagram.

Paul on CROI

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Restaurant opening.

 

We are now open 2 weeks, I have a few minutes to myself away from everyone I am contemplating my position here, if I wasn’t I suppose I wouldn’t be doing this right. I am of the belief that if you are not questioning your actions your not making progress. To myself it’s a realisation of a dream which in itself is bittersweet. On the one hand I’m pushing forward with my life, that part i can deal with, the part that gets me as I write this is the sadness from the loss of my mother last year, as I use her tunnel to grow the strawberries, rhubarb and salad leaves that go out on the starters and desserts. Each time I pick from the tunnel, I can’t help the feeling that should by mom still be here I might not be growing as much as I am.

 

It’s been a rollercoaster ride so far seeing what we walked into and with the help of friends and family alike, cleaning tidying, organising. I must say a huge thank you to all, the people who have came in and dines with us over the last two weeks. I am glad that I have made this decision as I further my career and make progress down a road less traveled, with 2 of my friends Noel and Kevin, I couldn’t ask for 2 better business partners so thanks lads.

Each of us have a different viewpoints on this restaurant and different reasons as to why we walk this path.

 

The journey is just beginning, it’s emotionally and physically draining, but it’s worth it at the end of the day we are doing it for ourselves.

 

Follow the restaurant on Facebook Twitter and Instagram @croitralee

 

Or myself for behind food pics @chefpaulc on Instagram and Twitter with the occasional food pic thrown in for good measure.

 

Hope to see ye in the restaurant soon.

Starting out as a chef

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8 TIPS FOR CHEFS STARTING OUT

1: Learn how to sharpen your knife. A sharp knife does less damage than a blunt one

2: Learn how to finely dice an onion. It’s the most commonly used ingredient in the kitchen and a great way to practise your knife skills

3: Bring a spare pair of socks to work. When you’re working for a couple of hours in hot shoes it can cause health problems.

4: Don’t be afraid to ask question, if you’re not sure of something ask. Chefs would rather see your interest and show you something properly than you mess it up. Even if you do mess it up ask where you went wrong and don’t mess up the second time.

5: Learn how to make soup. It’s more than likely your first job will be on starters. If it is nearly every restaurant has a soup on those menu. If you can learn to do that you’re taking on a full dish by yourself. Also soups have to be seasoned correctly so it is an ideal opportunity to start your seasoning skills and allows you to experiment with flavours.

6: Show interest. If you’re in a busy kitchen and you have nothing to do. Wander over to the sauce section and see how the chef make their peppercorn sauce. No one chef does everything the same way but when you become qualified you can choose what way you like best. You need a base knowledge to start with though.

7. Don’t take it personally. My first night working in kitchen I had never used bean sprouts before. A chef on my section had put gone off bean sprouts on a salad and I didn’t know the difference. I got blamed for serving it and looked like a fool. However I didn’t storm off in a mood. I finished my shift and we were still friends afterwards. People shout get angry it happens. Don’t take it to heart.

8. Start high end and decide where to go from there. If you start in a good restaurant you learn the basics. Saying that not everyone wants to work in fine dining. That’s fine. But it’s hard to move from a low casual dining restaurant to a fine dining restaurant.

Diarmuid on the food service industry

What a wonderfull weekend on the #foodtrail to the Kingdom. I probably don’t need to go into any furthuer detail on my experience in Listowel & Tralee as I have well documented my reviews on Social Media. So I’m going to just ‘tip’ on being an owner/operator having spoken to both proprietors on my journey and from my own experience of being a bar and hotel owner in my own time. Firstly I want to acknowledge the guys in Listowel & Tralee and wish them continued success in the future. When I began my career in the late 80’s going to the pub/restaurant was in the Top 5 of places of interest to go socialise and meet with friends family etc. 30 yrs later with the advent of so many many forms of social activity people are more health concious and with the demise of the Celtic Tiger the f&b trade has suffered a major downturn and our customers are now finely tuned in to ‘value for your buck’ Bars & Restaurants are under constant screunity from not alone the well travel and versed general public but from also within by the governing food and drink bodies. I have heard on countless occasions people saying ‘oh I’d love to have a pub/restautant’ they see an operation on a busy weekend night and immediately marry the till take to a it’s a good money maker. It’s obviously not the case. Our guests do not see what goes on behind the scenes and what an enermous effort it takes just to open the door let alone keep it open and trading successfully. My point without over stating the obvious is the respect I have for the guys I met this weekend. Hard working conceious people as well as being food lovers they are employers they are fantastic chefs and front house operators. I personaly am fully supportive of anyone in business but in particular in our Industry. It’s 7 days 7 nights every week week in week out. It’s then sometimes that naturaly I become disappointed when I read the reviews of staff and premises on Tripadvisor. Posted up by ‘mini-private eye foodies’ without a seconds thought for someone’s career and someone’s hard work. I was brought up to the mantra if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything and if you realy feel something is to be said at least be constructive. My point again coming from being an employer to a damm good employee is We should all help support and encourage those who make the brave step forward to become an owner/operator. We should all take time to be transparent with out customers and when an opportunity arises to explain how deathtraemtal someone’s unkind review can be on any form of Social Media. The good times are gradually coming back People have a few extra bob in their pocket and once again with thanks to will oiled professionals in hospitality who did not bail out people are coming back into our bars & Restaurants and the ‘steaks’ are high and we need to continue to produce the goods and the experience our guests now demand. And we will I know all of us here on TCG will endevour to produce the best to the best of our ability. So I encourage everyone to support the Owner/operator. I for One raise my glass to you guys this evening. After all… we are the willing led by the unknown doing the impossible for sometimes the ungrateful but we keep doing it! Why I ask. Because that’s what we do. #atyourservice 👤