My name is Dale Houlihan.
I’m 20 years of age and I’m a chef, I started chefing when I was 17. In secondary school they hadn’t home economics classes or anything so when I finished school I was expected to know what I wanted to do from what I was thought in school. My mom thought me how to cook at a very young age I was 4 making my first cake , 5 making my first pizza from scratch. Someone gave me advise to turn something you love into a career and that’s what I did , I started a Professiona cookery course the age of 17 in Kerry Collage Of Further Education.
I hadn’t a clue how to dice an onion or baton a carrot but I learned , I handed in a CV to Croi as a Commis Chef under the head chef Noel Keane and suis chef Paul Cotter , I started off as a kitchen porter for about a week then I got moved onto preparing Amuse Bush’s. Paul then trained me on plating desserts and helping with starters.while on Amuse Bush’s Paul used to tell me “I’ll give you the list of ingredients and you execute it” I was still learning what pickled radish and wild garlic was but Paul and Noel wanted to see what I’d create with the Amuse Bush and make me learn my own artistic side of dishes I never New I had.
Sometime after that I got comfortable with the starters and I’d fill in for Paul in he’s days off.
I was getting faster and cleaner and more creative every time I came into work and it really helped out with collage because the amount of knowledge a guy could learn from working with a team like that is the best knowledge anyone could get trying to learn and improve in collage. Paul and Noel offered myself and Dave opportunities to have dishes put on the menu if we had any good enough but they had to be seasonal , so I came up with 2 dishes for Vegtopia and so did Dave. Their was a competition called Yes Chef and my tempura broccoli dish from vegtopia was put up on Instagram and a chef from the competition commented on it saying he’d look forward to seeing it . So I did the competition, I did the Tempura Broccoli dish for my Amuse Bush seen as he was fond of it anyway , I did a Scallops on the beach for my starter (grilled scallops on a slate inside a crab shell,beef butter in a jug with pine needles smoking and stoned looking like a camp fire. I have to say a thanks to my Amuse Bush’s because without all of them I wouldn’t have been able to add food, Nature , Art and season into a dish that got me shortlisted for young chef of the year , A big thanks to Paul, Noel and Kevin too because without the encouragement and allowing me to learn in ways that help me develop as a chef I wouldn’t have been able to do any competition after being a chef for 7 months. My main course dish was pan fried monk fish with foraged sanfire, sea lettuce, garlic butter and clams , I chose the monkfish because Noel told me it’s really expensive so I knew if I used it it was expensive for a reason and that would make me not mess it up.
After about a year or less Croi opened a new building and Noel took me along , I was promoted to Demi Chef de Parti. I nearly passed out when Noel offered me the position. I stopped working in Croi after 6-7 months working in the new building and started working in Kate Brownes bar and Restaurant.
It was very different to Croi. I was used to working with 3-4 chef now I’m working with 22-23, different style of food and different people to see everyday but I had the knowledge from Noel and Paul and I had the speed Paul and Noel drilled into me so I knew I was fine. It was very busy there you could do 700 covers on a busy Sunday witch was most Sunday’s, but in Kate browns nobody really wanted to change the menu it was the same menu for years but it worked because it was busy so I still wanted to learn and that’s when I made the decision to hand in a CV to the Rose Hotel. I knew a fiew of the staff there , very kind, hard working, friendly people who wanted to teach a man who wanted to learn. My second day working there the Suis Chef Karl asked me to come up with a dish for the specials for the day after. So I did and he was happy with it. The next morning I got a phone call off the Head chef Odhran telling me how happy he was with the dish and I’ve got to say it felt good 😂 now I’m out of work due to shutdown of businesses over Covid19 but the minute I’m able to get back into work I’ll be out the door like a shot with the uniform, bandana and knives. I’ve heard people in collage and work complaining about having no life over chefing and it’s a hassle. But for me I turned my hobby into my career and it’s the best thing I ever done…
Dale talks how it started