My year in review 2017 by Noel

 
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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,

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May
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
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 ,

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July
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.

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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,


August
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

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September
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,
October
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

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December
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

Noel

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