My year in review 2017 by Noel


Well it’s been a hell of a year, it started as 2016 ended I was head chef in eabha Jones restaurant listowel, and planning the year ahead , with theme nights as they were a big success in 2016 there the plan was to continue them, January was quite a busy month in the restaurant as well.i had just started buying Cordals goats cheese from Shane it is one of the finest I have come across, Max was selling mozzeralla at the Listowel farmers market made locally so Once upon a cheese mozzeralla was on the menu.
Thought January I worked on an advertising campaign for Leahs foods & did a photo shoot for them and designed there banners, at work it was planning, theme nights, Valentine etc
February saw Jimmy ask to help on ideas for smoking so over the course of the next few weeks we smoked everything & anything from garlic and wild leek to duck & fish , mostly to a degree of success,
Wild oysters as big as my hand were foraged & seabeat and purslane from ballylongford, as the end of February came, a letter from the R.A.I. let us know we were nominated for best chef, best casual dining a nice way to end the month , as talks started as to who would go,
March saw me meet Peter Curran for the first, this would develop and be important later on , on this occasion it was for a video for tralee culinary gangsters Facebook page, it is a very interesting video , by the second week of March I was named a taste Kerry food ambassador, and was now running 7 social media accounts for businesses, cause you know ……
The videos were coming quick now as we did Shane at Cordals goat cheese, and John griffins gave us a masterclass in sausage making,
April was where it all changed in the end, as April started we did a cooking video in my kitchen nothing unusual there, all craic and banter, and we started planning both the next video interviews and cooking videos for the end of the month, by mid April myself, Kevin & Paul had agreed to be partner’s in a restaurant, Croí , the end of April is a whirlwind romance and mess all at the same time, as we set about to open a restaurant with a limited budget and no time while finishing out our present jobs,

Monday 1st may at 11am we got the keys to the restaurant, and the next few days are a blur, we opened for business at 5 o clock Friday restaurant re done , the first table in at 5 was a regular at the previous restaurant , and complained about everything , place to bright didn’t like the new seating , new table set up , menu food I could go on……. A great way to open your first business eh….
The rest of may is pretty much a blur, we were busy and finding our feet training in staff ,

June continued like May 7 days a week early to late , first week of june dishwasher packs up, second week sinks block then a leak in the restaurant, drains block , a great start,
Mid June we were asked to talk to the culinary students at the ETB training centre, and from that David joined the team at Croí,
Go wild magazine named me as one of the signature chefs of the wild Atlantic way .
And an appearance in their magazine ensued ,

As July rolled in it saw the first appearance of a favourite dish of mine to date
A taste of the sea, scallops,clams,crab claws with trout caviar and a seaweed foam under a dome of Apple wood smoke , an instant hit with the customer’s.



Restaurant Ireland awards us 5 stars by the end of July, and I do a BBQ on top of HQ 5 stories up for a bit of fun,

Tuesday 4th sees the start of the mural on the side of Croí it’s a big space to cover,an artist impression of the first rose of tralee & her love. It turned out beautiful and is becoming increasingly an image of tralee ,
The Sunday independent mentioned us as a place to watch & vist and shane smith did a photo shoot for yes chef magazine ,summer is in full swing and a great time for foraging as well with heaps of goodness out there,
A cookery demo in the dome for taste Kerry & a visit for dinner by Nora Casey during the rose of tralee brought a busy month


September start with a personal point as I was made a member of euro toques , and the polly tunnels were started, taking only 2 days for 2 30 foot polly tunnels as we start to grow through the winter as well, we revive a highly recommended from Yes chef magazine and are shortlisted in three categories for their industry awards, and we book our tickets to food on the edge, I was meant to go last year but in the end couldn’t so I wasn’t gonna miss it this year, as the month was coming to a close we did a charity night for the donal Walsh foundation, Elaine kinsella of radio was the guest celebrity chef for the eveni my, the event was a great success and the start of the tralee food festival which should have had a demo by us Saturday in the square at 1 but it down poured and was called off, by now the polly tunnels are fully planted by John of 52week vegetable gardener, who will oversee and guide me on the grownimg journey.
The restaurant is still busy , which of course is great , Kevin has taken a break and Paul has had a few days off so the plan is that either/or both October/ November will be quite and I’ll take a few days,
As mentioned we were off to food on the edge in what turned out to be a busy month on all fronts we remained busy through October & November, and food on the edge was for me anyway an inspiration, a lesson, a mind opener, a turning point in many ways,
Shortly after that we were off to the yes chef awards and took all the staff with us,
And we won best newcomer Munster award , what a way to end the month,….
November again saw lots happening first up was a cookery demo with myself Kevin, Marcus and max for ardfert national school,
Then the 100 day whiskey aged rib eye was started
Now the tunnels are producing away as well and unplanned cookery demo was landed on us last minute so myself Kevin & max did one in Garveys supermarket tralee, , Dale joined us on work experience

With our involvement a Christmas market was running every Friday through December so we opened for lunch these days , I hate doing lunch I really do……..
Our plaque arrived from Yes chef awards, and we got Another one a week later from Lucinda o Sullivan plaque of great places to eat 2018 who h was a welcome surprise

So as I sit here looking back at the last 12 months it’s been some ride and many laughs along the way, lots of highs and lows of course, trials & tribulations, but mostly fun and good times .
I know I left out loads from may on I could have wrote pages per month
But this will do for now


Dave talks ice cream


History of Ice Cream

A.D 54-68: For centuries, iced desserts were a luxury. Roman Emperor Nero is said to have sent his slaves into the mountains surrounding Rome, to fetch snow to mix with nectar, fruit pulp and honey.

A.D 618-907: The origins of ice cream date back to China’s T’ang period, probably as a dish for the country’s noble men. The founder of the dynasty, King T’ang of Shang, kept 94 “ice men” on hand to lug ice to the palace to make a dish of koumiss (heated, fermented milk), flour and camphor.

A.D 1295: Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what is now called sherbet. Historians estimate that this recipe evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th century.

A.D 1744: American colonists brought along recipes from Europe. On May 19th, 1744, a group of VIP’s dined at the home or Maryland Governor Thomas Bladen. Present was a Scottish colonist who described “A Dessert…Among the Rarities of which is was Compos’d, was some fine Ice Cream which, with the Strawberries and Milk, eat most deliciously.” This is the first written account of ice cream consumption in the new colonies.


A.D 1782: Martha Washington once left a bowl of sweet cream on the back steps of Mount Vernon one night, and the next morning discovered ice cream. (frozen sweet cream).

A.D 1843: Until September 9th 1843, ice cream was made by the “pot freezer method,” but on this day Nancy M. Johnson of Philadelphia got her “artificial freezer” patented, containing a tub, cylinder, lid, dasher, and crank. This design is still widely used today.

A.D 1851: Baltimore dairyman Jacob Fussell opened the first commercial ice cream factory. He had a surplus of cream – so he built an ice cream factory in Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania, and shipped it to Baltimore by train. Business boomed, and Fussell became the father of the wholesale ice cream industry.

A.D 1880: The ice cream sundae was invented on the eastern side of the US. It was invented because ice cream sodas weren’t allowed to be sold on Sundays; the ice cream sundae was a way to circumvent that restriction. On September 22,1903, there is a recorded application for a patent for the ice cream cone by Italo Marchiony.



A.D 1939: Grocery stores didn’t start selling ice cream until the 1930’s, and by WWII, ice cream had become so popular that it turned into somewhat of an American symbol (Mussolini banned it from Italy for that very reason). Ice Cream was great for troop morale, and in 1943 the U.S Armed Forces were the worlds largest ice cream manufacturers.

Kevin talks food on the edge


Food on the Edge.
Last October I had the privilege of going to a symposium of chefs that is one of the biggest in the world. With roughly 40 Michilin stars walking around, shaking hands and spinning yarns about our trade and our responsabillity to our people. As restaurateurs we are responsible for bringing people’s attention to the right or wrong things to eat.
At Food on the Edge some of the brightest minds on the planet educated us on issues of mental health, sustainability and the joy of friendship in hospitality. With the introduction of social media it has made it easier to share stories and aid each other with issues in the trade. Also passing on local suppliers information and meeting with some of the big names in Ireland. My mind had been opened up buy two speakers especially, Anna Haugh blew me away with stories of bullying that brought tears to my eyes and James Viles who’s philosophy is still Hunter Gatherer, if you ain’t willing to slit it’s throat then you shouldn’t be eating it to begin with.
Now I’m going to speak a bit about J.P. McMahon, an Irish Michilin star chef (Anier in Galway city) that is so passionate about being Irish it’s not funny. His belief in humanity is infectious. His desire seems to be that we in the trade raise the bar on the impact chefs have on what we eat and more importantly the FACT that 50% of the world’s food is being dumped yet there is starvation on the planet. Have you ever gone to the shop to buy something and you see there’s a two for one special on for it so you buy it? You only went in for one and came out with two. Generally the second one is going in the bin so I guess there’s your 50%.
Food on the Edge is a celebrcelebration of culture, food culture and let’s face it, from birth to death every occasion revolves around food. So I wonder why we struggle to combat food that really isn’t healthy. Is it convenience, education or what? Who is responsible? Parents, teachers, politicians or people that have a love for food? To understand what I mean you’d have to hear what I’ve heard for example there are butcher’s around here selling upwards on twelve thousand foreign chicken breast A WEEK. Come on we are surrounded by fields and people, surely we can do better then what we are doing. The Amazon rain forest is being depleted by agriculture. Chopping down trees to plant soya bean to grow cattle. The Amazon is almost gone so the whole we need oxagyn to breath thing really isn’t hitting home. What do you think we can do to make things better, because we are failing miserably on this one which is our own basic existence and I would like to make the point while you read this, that saying I can’t change anything is the defeated attitude. If we don’t change then the people that have a self sustaining society in play are on the winning team but we have to remember that those people are probably the organisers of the whole downfall of the food culture. We at Croí will be attending Food on the Edge again this year, ready to meet some big name in food and to see how J.P’s action/reaction plan is going. My advise to those who care is simply spend a little more if necessary, I understand things are tight but the more you buy the cheap stuff the tighter things will get in the future. Buy from Holland, Spain, Brazil, China etc. etc. then say goodbye to OUR money because it’s now gone abroad. Please support local, please support your neighbour and please teach the kids how to eat right…..

Kevin on reviews

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Humanity v’s Trip Advisor
So we opened Croí restaurant in Tralee 9 months ago and since then we’ve jumped through the hoops. Dealing with suppliers, sourcing food in Kerry that we believe in because, this is my county, this is my town and these are my people. Wether your from the Czech republic or China, I don’t care if you support local I support you. This is my stand point, I work hard, I love people and it’s why do it. I don’t do this just to make money, I love our local producers, it beats talking to a rep hands down. They have the same passion I do and the care and ideas are fantastic. I hear stories from Chef Noel of conversations that happen in the wee hours of the morning about nights we can put on, to put our town and county’s food on a pedestal. A platform to show off what we do in Kerry not just Croí. We employ staff and train them to a high standard. They then go out and impart information to guests regarding food and drink. The aim is to make people’s time through any establishment enjoyable. All of this is done by us because we believe.
So if you look at all that and take it that I’m being honest and then take a look at our adversary which is the almighty Trip Advisor. It is a website/app that has us competing with opinion. Have you heard the expression opinions are like asses, everyone has one? Do I have flaws? Of course I do, I’m human. To not have a flaw is to be inhuman. Would it be better to have an app that sends people to restaurants, bars, hotels, hostels and b&b’s that suit them? Instead we are left with an app that is forced to deal with everyone’s opinion. Some people don’t even say anything to the staff in restaurants anymore, if they have a complaint it’s like their content to make themselves feel more important, AKA a JOKE.

This is the crazy part, I am not the same as you, we have very little in common. I like my coffee strong with 1 sugar, you? Things I like you may not is what I’m getting at. We have lost the art of exploring, finding out for ourselves. We don’t trust ourselves so we refer to an app to make our decisions. Again I have no problem with something that markets or advertises like a directory for establishments but slating people for trying? Come on world you can do better than that…..

The result:
I’ve seen staff get disheartened with their jobs based on other people’s opinions and it’s disgusting and harmful. 5star 4star reviews are great but even those reviews pale by comparison when it comes to that of a negative review and it’s devastating intent. I understand that not everyone will enjoy what we do but the majority do. I understand that people in general put up constructive criticism and I welcome you I honestly do but could humanity come up with a more appropriate way to support its own community rather then blasting people out of it with comments and snidey remarks or “opinions” based on people trying?? Even people that do things for the wrong reason deserve a chance.

The effect: look at our unemployment lines, look at our increase in mental health issues. Look at the youth of today. They all want to help I know this for fact but unfortunately the ADULTS of today have failed the youth of today. School drop outs are at an all time high. Now I know your thinking, what does this have to do with trip advisor? In my “opinion” (hahahahaha) it’s like penny’s make pounds, it all adds up.

Davids year in review



January 2017
I guess this is as good as place as any to start so in January I just about a month in to be fully diagnosed with depression. This didn’t hit me that hard as I knew something was wrong with me, mentally and emotionally. I was constantly arguing with my wife and just wanted to be alone with my own thoughts.

February 2017
The depression is a bit better I was put on medicine and it helped changed my mood. It helped me with my attitude as I back to my normal easy going self

April 2017
I gonna skip forward a small bit mentally and emotionally I am doing ok. My financial situation started to effect me. I started to question my self worth I had no qualifications no leaving cert no direction in going forward and no idea how to get there. I was in a job focus meeting one day and I was like Dave your nearly 30 with no skills no qualifications nothing GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER MAN
I took a chance on a random course. I choose to do a basic culinary course. I went for the interview and honestly I thought I messed it up. I was grilled to the highest order and felt really low coming out of it.

May 2017
A letter came through the door to say I was accepted into the culinary course. I was honestly shocked. I genuinely thought I messed up the interview. To say I was excited was an understatement. It was a nice feeling, I hadn’t felt it in months. I was like a big kid lunch packed school bag over the shoulder and on my way. Little did I know then it would change my life for the better

June 2017
A live demo from the tralee culinary gangsters was had in the college . The knowledge the experience and most of the food. AGAIN THE FOOD. The flavour of the food was just amazing. Outstanding even and I ain’t just saying that as I am I fellow gangster now myself. I am saying that as a student who just discovered the world of cuisine.

June – July 2017
In discovering this exciting new artistic world I quickly rushed at the opportunity to ask chef Noel for some work experience. And it was an experience it still is.

August 2017
Course is over, I am now an official member of TCG. The rose of tralee is in full bloom and chef Noel randomly decides let’s do a big mural of the side of the building. Little did I know at the time it would be not only a talking point but also a main focal point for tralee.

Sept 2017
Results are out. I was very nervous about this. I got a distinction in culinary arts, it was the very first time I ever had a qualification or a degree of any sort. To say I was proud is a huge understatement. I was that excited I actually got a culinary tattoo.

Oct 2017
A month after i left college in working with chef Noel in CROI and now at the yes chef awards. I felt like I didn’t belong there sitting with some of the greats in the industry and now little old me fresh from college sitting beside them. I felt very ooverwelmed.

Nov 2017
On a personal note I have stopped the depression meds now, my choice not the doctors am I doing better yes am I felling better yes am I more tired all the time when I not working I practically sleeping . I also have stopped cooking as much at home and with the support of the my fellow gangsters and colleagues I joined a Facebook group called chefs with issues

Dec 2017
Xmas is here I finally good again I have that Xmas spirit, even listening to Xmas songs in the kitchen the best thing about December was seeing I was diagnosed with depression a year and not letting it get in my way. Also if you want something bad enough go get it no-one else with give it to you. Life is short enough make it worth living.

Paul, my year 2017


2017 a year in review.

From my eyes anyway it was an eventful year with huge highs and lows throughout the year. Both in the kitchen and in my own personal life. I look back and hope yo share with you through my eyes the year 2017.
I suppose starting at the start with a busy month of work and a small amount of foraging to be honest about it February to April of the year I would rather forget to be perfectly honest about it. The best part of these months was starting a new job in late March with Marcus in Nick’s restaurant in Kilorglin, it was a great experience for me I loved every minute of it there while my personal life is rather park that and forget it. Leading from that a sense of despair amongst other emotions that I don’t do so well with then May happened and which saw the opening of Croi and the arrival of the gangsters into the real world and there is where the year really takes a turn, June and July as much as I try are a blur a completewhirlwind adventure with the 2 best men that you could ask for in Kevin and Noel “consummate professionals as always” (thinking about it now I’m laughing). Kevins dancing to the Spotify and Noel’s attempt to dance,(baby groot you legend). August saw the rose festival and an emotional weekend for me where I had am absolute disaster and would have seen the door and P45, had I not been in the position I hold in the restaurant, recovering from this seemed harder that it was. September saw the food festival and a busy few weeks for us which continued October, and food on the edge and a trip to Galway and the inspiration from done of the best chefs in Europe and the world, while in the restaurant we had expected to be “quiet”, like sbow in July that didn’t happen as ever we pushed on inside and out of the restaurant from both a service and a foraging point of view I had to look a bit harder to find different items on our menu, but in my search I stumbled across other patches of something else, (silver linings). That brings us nicely to December and the haze that ensued, a difficult time in our house anyway,, as I’m sure in many households across the country Christmas wasn’t the same without someone, yet the tales of the past bring tears and smiles laughter and silence of thought and wishful thinking.
So here we are at the beginning of January once more and this year sees pending nuptials for my fiancee Jenny and I, amongst other plans in the restaurant and the foraging seems like it’s going to be a great, and looking forward to the year growing as much as I can and foraging through the seasons once more with more of an eye on the preservation of herbs fruits and vegatable while hoping to increase my knowledge of edible and foraging of mushrooms.
Here’s to 2018 let’s see how it goes. Wild food to the forefront of my agenda anyway.
Follow my journey @chefpaulc on twitter and Instagram and the restaurant on all social media platforms @croitralee


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Restaurant preservation

As a chef in the restaurant I want to learn and as much as I can, I’ve a particular interest in preservation, on fish, herbs and vegatable, im not brave enough to go after meat just yet then again I’m gonna leave the cueing of meat to the professionals, plenty of them around. In Listowel and Rathmore as the best ones I know of curing pork and bacon products, plenty of the older generation still curing their own hard salt bacon., tasty stuff when done right and it’s not for everyone.
Preservation of fish started for me weeks ago when I botched a mix for gravalax so I had to cure in pickled beetroot liquid, it worked a treat and attempt 2 had more appealing results so I decided I need to perfect this and get better and I’m now on another batch of gravalax just waiting for it to cure.
I love pickling vegatables from beets to carrots and from cucumber to mushrooms. A huge thanks to the people of mooncoin beetroot for the selection this year the colours of the pickle mix was amazing. The flavors were also unbelievable. I’ve began fermentation also in the restaurant with Sauerkraut a German dish I know using Irish produce, thinking slightly outside the box on the next one but turnip I’m not sure how its gonna turn out so fingers crossed. Stay tuned for more experiments and an update on the current status of the turnip kraut
Follow me on twitter and Instagram @chefpaulc and the restaurant on all social media platforms Facebook Twitter Instagram and snapchat @croitralee don’t forget to like the Tralee culinary gangsters page on Facebook also