I know I did a piece last year about flowers to eat or not to eat, here’s to year to year 2 of using flowers on dishes. I’ve stood on both sides of the fence just hopped from one side to the other. I’m now looking at flowers in a different light and becoming a more integrated part of my work in tbe restaurant, as it has by many other restaurants around the world, so here’s to spring.
Spring has a magic like no other season, everything bright, colourful, fragrant, and pretty springs back to life. Primroses and dandelions, both off to a flying start, along with sweet briar also known as flowering currant or wild currant depending on where you were brought up always loved the smell that these flowers bought to the yard at home. The wild leek and wild garlic flowers have been slow to show this year due to the abismal weather over the past few months, as the temperatures gradually rise the buds begin to show. The gorse flower is still going strong and flourishing in the cool weather, be careful of the thorns use a scissors, a knife to avoid getting caught by thorns or my personal favourite get someone else to do it ( haven’t been so lucky on this one though) marigolds have also begun to pop up around gardens along with the wild mustard beginning to flower (small yellow flower on top of a plant about 2 feet tall). At this point I feel like I’m grandad from Jackie Chan adventures “one more thing”, firethorn or berberry, is flowering at the moment these bright almost luminous orange flowers bring a nice little colour pop to any plate of food. Later in the year they produce a Berry the flesh itself is not poisonous but the seeds inside are so take the seeds out. I will be doing different things with these Berries so stay tuned to all our social media channels,
Instagram and twitter croitralee and myself chefpaulc snapchat @croitralee for live restaurant bits
I suppose it’s been a while so here goes another year, spring is off to a flying start with all the herbs and wild weeds coming thick and fast at this stage. I found the winter period tough on the foraging front as it became harder to locate usable sustainable quantities of different herbs both coastal and forestry, flowers, just gorse on tbe menu, ( them damn thorns), yet another joyous start in the tunnel rhubarb straight off the mark and strawberries in 2nd place along with last year’s chard gaining a new lease of life. The radish I dropped in and the beetroot also spouting nicely.
This year is an unknown entity due to restaurant coming on stronger than ever with the number of accolades growing steadily. The feeling of bittersweet joy and pride in my work, showing results is unusual I’m not used to being a successful in work, I’ve been by my own admission a failure in my own personal life, with comparisons to to others perceived situations. So overall balanced life even if it is a little sleepless at times. The foraging has taken itself to new heights and the wild garlic talk led me to have more confidence in my own abilities, with new ideas planning with every new day in the forestry or the shore.
I’m now getting spotted and stopped more often now and most commonly known as your one of them, the gangsters or the lads from Croi. I find it amusing as people don’t believe we actually do what we say we do.
Later this year my preservation will take a serious turn with the arrival of my wedding and the meriad of preserves I plan on making for it.
As always more action @chefpaulc on insta and twitter or a feed from the restaurant @croitralee on all social media platforms
Croí, how it is for Kevin
I’ll start by talking about the name. It came out of Noel’s mouth at a Tralee culinary gangster meeting one night and when I heard it, it was like the pide piper was playing my song. Croí is the Gaelic for Heart but it has another meaning too….
For as long as I can remember I have been a sensitive person but my love for people has never changed. I’ve dabbed at this and dabbed at that but the one thing that doesn’t change is that I love people. Difficult people, easy people, awkward people, it doesn’t matter, people all work from love or damaged love and that’s something that I love so when I heard Noel say Croí, which in old Irish means the spirit or the essence of, it blew me away myself.
In the last 10 months I have watched us all go through our stuff, the 3 of us growing at rapid pace. Paul has developed into an outstanding chef. Literally sponging knowledge at a rapid rate, producing dishes of an exceptional calibre. Backing Noel up and giving him a freedom to work on other stuff like festivals, markets and let’s not forget our ever changing seasonal menu with dishes that tantalize our guests mouths. Finding new local suppliers to help us build our arsenal of what our stunning county has to offer. Most places have 1 or 2 Mickey mouse suppliers and then use a big huge multinational to supply them with the rest but the way we see it is, the fish monger can’t deliver steaks cos, it’s very simple, that’s not his business, if the fish monger takes his business, we see that as “NOT FAIR PLAY” so you get a red card.
Noel has the “Father figure” in Croí and Paul and I are happy to go along with this and if needed we are all well able to reign the other in because we have total faith in the other. Noel’s drive and stamina is a privalage to watch. He counts us in for everything too then as Croí is the 3 of us. He spreads the credit around and passes on the limelight and sits back and then watches myself and Paul enjoy the ride. Paul and I work really really hard to allow Noel the freedom and Noel doesn’t forget that, and that’s humbling.
I have grown so much in 10 months. The reality of the world of business and the need for survival instincts is massive but if I focus on that it will destroy the natural me which is or so I have been told is, some have said “away with the fairies” but this one isn’t really me, so, I will explain because one of my primary school teachers got it right. I like to enjoy myself, I like to have fun, I am happy go lucky and I mix that with love and the let’s do this right attitude is how I sum me up. Perhaps Noel or Paul could shine more light on that but if I use the joe/Harry window (counselling term) is how I view myself and let’s not forget my self confessed “I’m a sensitive guy”.
So to end my piece, CROÍ
You have given me so much and your just a building and a world until you add, Noel, Paul and Kevin. Then you become an institution for love, care, passion, personality, desire, belief and an awful lot more positive words. So to end I say thank you for everything, now let’s cook this motherfucker……
I watched year after year at this time the same thing starts, looking for chefs , same places same problem every year, now I’m banging around for quite a bit so here is my cents worth . For what it’s worth
Ok my kitchen (4) chefs have all been trained by me from start as in I brought them in to the kitchen for the first time ,from the sous down
So why not train your own I have 2 commis starting collage courses both courses 2 years ( different courses), problem solved in staffing,for the next 2 years,I have 2 young chefs getting better all the time as the restaurant grows
Lots of chefs complain about the pay well I have had chefs work for me looking for a pay rise and they are not worth it , the good chefs are paid well if you are not been paid right leave period move to another places that will pay you for your hours
1. hire better maybe your kp wants to step up or a waiter wants to step in, create the environment you want
2. a training environment from when they start through collage and on (commi for 2 plus years trained)
3 create a pay system for the young chefs as they get better
4 sponsor their course
5.give late starts early finishes to our crew.
I’ll send them home early and do the floors and bins myself ,
Leaders lead , bosses boss,
be the change you want to see,
My 2 cents worth