Food alerts, David thoughts


Ok there is something that has been kinda bothering me as of recently, and that is the growing number of recalls of food within supermarkets and local shops due to malpractice with the so called product being produced. We all heard about the frozen food being recalled about being contaminated with Listeria. Well here’s a wee little lesson on Listeria for you. Listeria is a foodborne bacterial illness that can be very serious for pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems. Listeria is most commonly contracted by eating improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products. Listeria bacteria can survive refrigeration and even freezing. That’s why people who are at higher risk of serious infections should avoid eating the types of food most likely to contain listeria bacteria.


If you develop a listeria infection, you may experience:

Muscle aches

Symptoms may begin a few days after you’ve eaten contaminated food, but it may take as long as 30 days or more before the first signs and symptoms of infection begin.

If the listeria infection spreads to your nervous system, signs and symptoms may include:

Stiff neck
Confusion or changes in alertness
Loss of balance

9 people died from this particular foorborne illness in the past month alone, and as much as it scares me. I just keep seeing more recalls no one is questioning the big corporations. People are literally dying or being left really I’ll and hospitalised. How is it that these big corporations are not responsible for such things. I know as being a chef we have a duty of care to make sure every customer has a plesent meal and in no way gets sick or harmed by eating that meal. Does that always happen. No. And we unfortunately get blamed and have to suffer the the consequences. So why are the big corporations different.

Just as of yesterday morning (27 july) the Pepsi co had to recall a multivitamin juice due to fermentation. Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat found mainly in the making of beer and other alcohol products.

And that’s just yesterday if i go back towards the start of the month (6th july) there was a massive recall on dunnes and spar own brand pesto for contamination due to salmonella.

Salmonella (salmonellosis) is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces. Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food.

Typically, people with salmonella infection have no symptoms. Others develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within eight to 72 hours.

Now with this particular recall I have a few issues.
1- dunnes and spar both claim to be Irish and do Irish food – well why would then have to buy in pesto from Belgium to mask as your own
2- as a junior chef who works in kitchen where a lot of foraging takes place pesto is frequently used. So what blows my mind is where in the **** do you get salmonella from basil oil and pine nuts.

It defiantly makes me wonder. WHAT IS IN OUR FOOD?

Dale on spring rolls


In collage I learned how to roll a spring roll and learned how to prepare a spring roll , when I do pre dinner snacks in work and when I’m told create something for the customers to eat I get to learn what my styles and techniques are and each day I create something I get better. It helps me prepare for the time I’m ready to come up with a starter. One day I brought my techniques from collage into work and made a spring roll with duck,carrot and onion for a pre dinner snack , it wasn’t just making something that tastes nice to me it’s that at more when I think of something amazing to eat amazing to me is taste,texture and the art of the dish I like to surprise customers not just with taste but with the look of the plate too. My head chef thought me so many ways and techniques of cooking and so did my suis chef so I study and watch nearly everything they do to better myself at my passion. I saw the Dahl Curry on the menu one night and something just sparked to me I wanted to do something more with the Dahl that nobody would think of doing , something unusual , something so that when I created it and it was served out to the customers they’d be completely surprised with what they got , it came to me to combine a spring roll with a Dahl curry and that’s where my inspiration for the Dahl cake from

Paul on preserving

Summer time preserves.

Ok so, here goes I’ve got married and can say I’ve never been happier with my place in life right now, the path is clear for my personal life anyway.

Preservation work continues with chutney and cordials that have began to ferment to I suppose champagne is the best comparison, knowing when i made the “cordial” if I hadn’t killed the naturally occurring yeasts if end up in this position. Oh well elderflower champers, Wahoo. Tasty is an understatement for this beautifully light drink. I used this on the symphony of flowers dish for vegtopia menu, cooked and designed by myself and the 2 d’s Dave and Dale, fantastic dishes produced by these too lads also.

Now keeping nettles is much easier than the aforementioned elderflower cordial I’ve dried some and crushed some and rolled more into paper or as close as one can get to an edible paper. Fun idea I loved doing. Experimentation here is key to finding uses for this prolific weed.

Fraughans are in full flight at the moment I will be harvesting some this year, if I get a jar of jam I reckon I will have a lot.
More to the forefront of my preservation is that of the haws which will be colouring over the next few months. These little jems are all I’m looking forward to. Watch this space seriously there’s loads of them, I plan on hoarding them. Till the new year and far beyond if I can.

As always I’m on everything @chefpaulc for a more direct follow to me, the restaurant is on all social media platforms @croitralee
Chat soon people

Malachy Kelly rebalance your life

Is your dinner giving you cancer?
In the UK, one in four people die of cancer. In Ireland, one in three will die from it. This is a startling statistic, and may be a damning indictment of modern lifestyles. With the wealth of research that has been carried out on all aspects of cancer, why is it still killing one in three in this country? (one in four if skin cancer is excluded).

What are the factors which cause cancer? Many associations are well known and high in the consciousness of the general public, such as tobacco smoking and excessive exposure to UV radiation from sunlight. What is much lower in the awareness of the general population is that we may very well be eating ourselves to death.

There is an ongoing trend globally towards obesity which is worrying health care service providers. This is mainly being combated by informing the general public of the health risks associated with obesity, focusing on heart disease and diabetes. Rarely if ever is cancer mentioned as a an associated risk, even though there is significant evidence to show this may be the case, as concluded by Carroll, who stated: “The evidence has been most consistent for endometrial cancer, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, and renal cell cancer. More variable results have been reported for colorectal, prostate and pancreatic cancer.”

Researchers have been able to identify risk associated foods by looking at the varying incidences of different types of cancers which occur in regions which have traditionally had different or very different nutritional practices, eg., Japan Vs India Vs western Europe. Numerous studies have found variances in cancer levels in populations where the diet is more traditional, but when members of those respective communities adopt a western style diet themselves, cancer demographics begin to resemble those of the west. In general those consuming a western style diet have vastly elevated levels of cancers of certain types. Is this due to an over consumption of processed foods?

According to a review of the available research on heat processed foods by Jägerstad and Skog, “food-borne toxicants present in cooked foods are possibly or probably carcinogenic to humans”. This review adds weight to the arguments for moving towards fresh food. Other studies identify red meat as a high risk factor in certain types of cancer as documented in a 1995 review by Willett “recent data have supported a causative role for red meat in the development of colon and prostate cancers“.

Thankfully, some foods have been proven to have positive effects on cancer related health. Fresh fruit and vegetables, besides being excellent sources of many vitamins and minerals, also contain a number of compounds known to be beneficial in preventing or even treating cancers. Brassica vegetables, including cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower have been shown conclusively in almost 100 studies to have the effect of decreasing the risk of cancers in the lung, stomach, colon, and rectum, while broccoli consumption decreases risk of all cancers. A 1999 review by Giovannucci of studies relating Lycopene (a compound most commonly found in tomatoes) and cancer risk, reported that “The evidence for a benefit was strongest for cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach. Data were also suggestive of a benefit for cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, oesophagus, oral cavity, breast, and cervix.”

Numerous epidemiological studies refer to a study carried out in 1976 amongst a large population of Seventh-Day Adventists who observe a strict vegan diet. One such study carried out by Jacobsen et al., 98, concluded that consumption of soya milk on a daily basis could reduce risk of prostate cancer by up to 70%, and recommended that further research be carried out on the influence of soy products on prostate cancer.

What can we take from all this research? The answer is plain.
Regardless of how healthy our lifestyles are otherwise, not paying attention to what we eat could kill us.

Vegtopia Dales dish


The tempura Broccoli salad idea came to me one day when my head chef was teaching me ways to make “the perfect batter” I made batter again and again and again and each time it got better. From using less of one ingredient or putting more of an ingredient or adding another ingredient each time I was more happy with the last , when I make pre dinner snacks I like to be creative as I can be. From making an amuse with muscles in a scallop shell being smoked from torching pine needles in a bowl under the shell to a smoked bacon, mozzarella and sweet corn samosa with tomato chili relish served on the side as a dip I make pre dinner snacks as creative as I can . One day I had an idea of trying broccoli with my batter and it tasted amazing , it was healthy , vegan and vegetarian friendly and i was really happy with how it turned out to me it had a really nice texture . But that wasn’t all I wanted to go with it I dressed a salad with wild heard pesto , freshly foraged leaves , pickled carrot and beetroot and I was really happy with the result. Everyday I’m learning and tomorrow I’ll learn more about food then I knew today but my inspiration for my tempura broccoli salad cake from a snack I created trying to make “that perfect batter” with a perfectly prepared and cooked vegetable

A chefs head by Gorka

2016-06-12 01.17.31

A chefs head

Some people don’t realize the work behind the curtains, what do we think when we finish a dish ,a menu …..
What do we really think in our heads….

You have to get the best quality ingredients, according with your budget and your knowledge,you can’t hide behind a bad produce no matter how , good quality speaks for itself

We taste our food and season it…..
We know what food taste like or most of us do

We cook what’s in season,unfortunately all foods are available all year round so it’s pretty confusing even for us , but we stay in season in the country we live in …. in this case beautiful Ireland

KM 0 or MILE 0
What’s this?
Very simple ….we are surrounded by quality suppliers!!
Fish ,meat , vegetables…. you name it …. we have to support them , they are passionate about what they do and have the knowledge, they are a key factor in our food change they battle bad weather , hot weather, heavy seas ….. and work really hard for it!!

People eat with eyes too, and contrast in colors is important
Now saying that balsamic vinegar doesn’t taste as good as it looks in a plate for some reason , so everything has to make sense

This is due to your training and ability to understand products and cooking products, for a long time or really short time but that requires skills that are earned by experience and knowledge, doesn’t matter if it’s a traditional method or new techniques, we try to apply them correctly

Contrast in texture, soft , crunchy, crispy …… understanding of mixing ingredients, sour, sweet , spicy, bitter….. BALANCE

Cook to please your customers not yourself, they are paying for … set boundaries between you and them earn their loyalty and respect and challenge and surprise them every time

We have our days off and holidays like everyone else , so dishes should look , taste …. the same when we are on or off …….

Do we think of everything here?
For every dish!!!!
Mad???? Well we also have the gift of enjoying what we do and remember one thing we are our worst critic and we are human …. so sometimes we make mistakes like everyone else!!!!
Just thinking of my next menu so pretty busy at moment 😂 as you can read!!!

Future of food??? By Kevin

What does the future and food hold?

We have gone through several stages of evolution of food by now and well a good question to ask now while people gain knowledge of food and sourcing is, I suppose what way is it heading? Humans have depleted the Amazon, cutting down the rain forrests to plant soya to feed agricultural animals to feed humans, which is so counter productive but it does keep the trillionaires at the top. We have no idea in this country of what’s going on in the rest of the world. The rain forrests in Indonesia have been devastated to plant corn so we can eat chilli Doritos. Africa is hardly the garden of the planet considering most of the land is scorched. America according to Netflix is a drug infested turbulent spot to be in what with all the drug inc. tv shows etc etc. They’ll do good at some point but at the moment their a bit preoccupied with presidents, poverty and the filthy rich. China has without question the highest rate of pollution in the world. So that leaves the middle East, Russia and Europe. From a distance too it looks like good aul Vlad in Russia is trying his best to do what’s right to protect his interests which he clearly knows are his people because let’s face it if war does come, he’ll want a few of the boyz to stand by him. All that being said he has ramped up honey production by spending and hiring his bee keepers to do so and apparently the country wants to be completely eco friendly by 2022. The middle East are working on a concept called eco cities where before when cities were built it was with cars as transport in mind. Now they build cities without roads because the cities are built on top of underground commuter systems. Narrow streets mean not so much sunlight which actually makes it easier for plants to have a chance to grow.

That leaves us with Europe, which at the moment seems stuck. Extremely caught up by financial dept and seems to me still working on an identity what with Brexit and the divides. The big thing that has happened for our industry in Europe at the moment is chefs ARE in demand. A lesson we should take a look at because if it keeps getting worse then your food gets worse. Your food will be bought by governments and accountants and well that didn’t go so well for Indonesia now did it.

Chefs are not passionate about money at the start but by the time government’s are finished with them it’s all they can think of. Chefs are passionate about food, local food because chefs are guess what, from places too. Chefs love to be creative, chefs love to inspire and chefs love to get rewards that are anything but money to get the message from us that we are really very satisfied with what they have produced for us as aposed to well I suppose we just have to accept it because it’s the government. We just need to believe in the chefs we have when it comes to our food. You don’t go to the opticians when you need a new washing machine so why go to a politician when we want to buy or grow food. The message is simple, we all have chefs in our town, so maybe we should talk to them more about how to live better, healthier, more satisfied lives and them let them shine the light on the direction food on our small floating globe is heading.

Traditional vs trends by Gorka

Tradition versus new trends
As chefs that we are , no matter from where in the world one thing should join us together and is the love of food , seasons , produce & joy of sharing with our customers or friends or family gatherings…… no matter the situation is all about what we eat.
Nobody can argue that technology is having a massive effect on our lives somethings are positive and others are really worrying
Why tradition is important?
Well obviously is our dna , our memories from our parents passed on by their parents , how we eat , when do we eat …..and recipes passed on from generations and this is the worrying part about technology….. has made us lazy ….. we are losing our taste buds and are not passed on to our kids,we google recipes, we buy anything in a supermarket wherever it comes from just because is handy and affordable…… we have become lazy!!!!!
It’s just too easy
Who suffers ?
Everyone !!!! That shortcuts are taking just to make money for big companies …. it’s all about money!!
Our bodies have become intolerant to so many things because we are trying to make food so safe that there is no bacteria whatsoever that our bodies can react and learn to deal with it …. and our inmune systems are weak….. apart from amount of shit that we are using to preserve food for lasting longer, look shinier, grow faster……
No doubt the are good things from technology, lots of it too……
Media, internet , Connection with people, sharing opinions or blogs, …. kitchen equipment, accessories, cooking methods, chefs techniques……lots of it!!!!
So for that you have to admire people that actually care and do something about it , and you support them and put your words into actions, that’s one of the things that I see in this group people that do care and do their part and I like it!!!
We as chefs admire chefs creativity and blend of ingredients, techniques and talent …… from escoffier first innovative chef to Ferran adria , a person that change our point of view about food and open a limitless book of creation
My last reflection is that what would I prefer a roasted pepper on a wooden barbecue…. the smell , the memories, how my mum told me to peel them and preserve them ….
Ducks tongue cooked for 40 hours , low temperature, foam , air, deconstruction……
A mass produce apple tarte with “custard “ from lidl to put and example…..
Just a little reflection on a fine summer morning!!!!