Paul on 2019

Dieting

As 2019 roars into action for Kevin Noel and myself the list of things to do this year, last year’s list was fairly small. As many people know getting a proper 3 meals a day is hard enough, and in the kitchen surrounded by food it’s often hard than you’d think, tasting and seasoning and tasting again keeps hunger pangs at bay a lot of the time. We often go a few days without a proper meal in the kitchen, “Did we eat yesterday??” Is a common question in the kitchen here anyway. We tend to feed everyone but else ourselves, ironic cooks for everyone except himself. 

As a result we eat late and honestly fairly crappy food, snack box, toastie, chocolate, basically all the stuff you shouldn’t be eating. I’m just speaking here from personal experience, across the industry, both front and back. 

When I 1st met my now wife, i was fairly slender, now I’ve what’s called a Dad bod, or beer belly. Whichever you prefer, catching it now seems like a good idea. 

I’ve a fairly hectic life as it stands without the addition of exercise and cooking at home. 

I found last year I had motivation from here to go after my goals for last year so I figure why not do the same here. I don’t want or need a shaped muscular toned beach body, just a healthier body than what I currently hold, I know my BMI is high and I also realise the flaws with it. For me it’s pretty accurate. Just a few stone 2 or 3. 

Now I don’t plan on sticking to a regimental diet of apples and oranges with spinach and kale, that to me seems counter productive, as I know I won’t stick to that at all or anything resembling it. 

To speak frankly I want to do this naturally, good honest food less of t ghe crappy processed food that I currently consume. I want potato with butter, I want bacon, beef, pork, fish and lamb all honest food. As I believe it’s the added sugar salt and chemicals that’s added to food today to cut cost and maximise profit. 

Here goes. 

As always stay tuned, 

@chefpaulc on all social media platforms. 

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Kevin on doing events

Building a different Era.
As we step into 2019 it seems we have A lot to do. Events seem to be the best way to fill the town with people from other towns. The rose of Tralee being the extreme of this but if you take a close look at Brian Carr’s Feile na Blath you have a clear line between well organised events and drawing people. At the restaurant Noel, Paul and I work on getting as many events on for the public as possible because it does effect the growth of Croí and also brings people to the town. With 32 events on the calender so far it’s set to be a busy year. The secret is and it’s true to the bone, you can always find time to put on another one. Events are difficult to get over the line and if they aren’t always free events, selling tickets and advertising can be an issue. The trick there is to be persistent and believe in your event, advertising in the right places and tapping into people you know would be interested. When I do up my plans for events I always tick the boxes of who would like this. Before Croí I never ran an event in my life and as we head into year 3 in business and now after being part of 20 plus events, the tactics used to get bums on seats has gained huge experience and the marketing strategy for the events is key. Working with Noel and Paul has given me huge space to work on thing I enjoy and working on events is amazing. Seeing the people’s faces light up as they recieve above and beyond their expectations. Chef Noel always delivering the best he can and watching Paul bend over backwards to knock it out the park is amazing. From demos to themed evenings, charity gigs to wine tastings, finding my love for events has been a true gift from Croí.

What is the purpose for events.
1) You want to increase revenue by giving people things they are genuinely interested in.

2) To get people through the door that have never been there before.

3) Hopefully meet like minded people so as that connection may begin and the most important word can start. Story.

We do several free events during the year, we also do events that are special and need to pay and deciding which is which isn’t always easy as the 3 of us can differ but and the end of the day if Noel comes up with an event then he has the final word. If Paul comes up with an event, he has the final word. Respecting each individual and realising that everyone you meet is a potential event is also key. A simple conversation could be a potential goldmine.

Why do I put on events, I don’t care to much for money, I have a firm belief that it has its place in society but to witness the look on someone’s face as they truly enjoy something you’ve put on is one of the greatest gifts in my life. On busy Saturday nights to take a minute to close your eyes and listen to a packed restaurant of chatting, giggling, laughter and more, what else could you want….

Demos by Paul

Demos

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I’ll talk for Ireland, beneath the extrovert exterior lies a fear of public speaking, no problem speaking at mass, Just a ball of nerves at demos so I tend not to talk much there, silence is golden so embrace it. I recently did a demo in Garvey’s super valu in Tralee.
Easy once I got into it and felt comfortable with myself, I had Max from once upon a cheese on my peripheral vision so I knew I was good and if I fell short Max or Kevin would throw a comment in somewhere, to set me off again.
I normally go out and forage, Kevin and Noel go to demos and I’m happy out cooking away in the restaurant, not the case this time around it’s Wednesday Paul your doing the demo.
I’m much happier in the forest or the coast getting smart comments from random strangers. This demo was an exception, we were part of a showcase of kerry producers.

As always follow me on all social media @chefpaulc and the restaurant @croitralee

Paul on preservation

Preservation 2018

At the start of the year I wanted to expand on preservation, that I was doing in 2017. So far I’ve made 2 batches of kraut, cabbage and wild garlic, I’ve made a tonne of pesto, cordials and pickles, I’ve also dehydrated some things, made powders and dried leaves and herbs. All in all one part of my years goals achieved. Seaweeds well I’m working on them, I’ve identified many of the one on the beaches that I forage on, as for use of these well that’s another story. I still havnt picked the courage to say sod this I’m doing it. I know there’s no issue with experimentation in the way I work i dont know is it more a fear of failure, or being pulled yet another direction in my own experiments so far.
I’ve picked up information and I believe it to be key to success in seaweeds as opposed to herbs, way more scope for error with herbs, pesto, salad, powder, dried, etc I’m working on options with seaweed so bear with me.

Dehydration was fun this year between the oven and the dehydrator and the natural dehydration process I’ve seen many different results,good bad and indifferent, nettles were the biggest surprise, nettle powder and paper and no that’s not auto correct. Both were really cool and fun to work on. Wild garlic dried leaves, pesto and powder 2 of these are still in the restaurant (for now).
Mushrooms again not a great year, too dry and what came was depleted in places, I did however dry some and powder a few so yay me.
I’ve a lot of rosehip and Hawthorn preserved in bottles and apples in the freezer until I need them thanks Eileen.

See ye soon guys

Kevin’s wine tasting trip

After returning from a trip I was brought on by one of our suppliers I am left with a feeling of humble pie. Taken by my wine supplier Terra Food & Wine, Juan Calljero has a selection of stunning wines in his catalogue. We met at the gates of the plane in Dublin airport and the seven of us were on a journey. When we arrived in Madrid and got the hotel stuff out of the way, we set off on a guided tour of Madrid as this was Alberto Mendozas back garden. Living in Ireland for 17 years and being part of serious achievements for restaurants, Albert showd us amazing food culture in the Spanish city centre. We went to a food jungle is the only way to describe where we were brought, the Platea. A hall set with the backdrop of a stage with a Dj that later became a band. In the middle there was a gymnastic display and on we went. The next place was the city council building where the rooftop had been turned into a viewing, relaxing lounge area. As the night grew late and the feet got tired, we ended the tour and the centre of Madrid and we took our final photo of the evening, no one could imagine what was to happen in the morning.

Up and a’tem early Saturday morning and with the sat nav on, we headed off to the vineyard. 3 hours out the road and we arrived at a discrete location, with stunning gardens, doors, fountains and grape fields as far as the eye could see. Welcomed by Manuel who introduced us to his wine maker Pedro, the tour of this amazing vineyard began. A beautiful tour at the fields in a horse drawn carriage, we got to see all the grape varieties your merlot’s to Syrah’s and the mapping and planning that goes in. They keet stallions, ducks and also host weddings. After the tour of the grounds we were brought through the wine making process and first shown maps of the land and all they harvest. Almonds, olives for oil, pistachios and of course several different types of grapes from reds to whites and rose. Brought through the great halls where the wine is stored in giant 1.5million litre worth of tanks, it was incredibly impressive. After seeing unfiltered chardonnay that had the resemblance of cloudy beer to beautiful blends of stunning fermented grape juice. We had a break then for a couple of hours where food and wine was consistently represented. It seems the culture is built around food and the enjoyment of company and spending time. After a midday siesta Manuel brought us to his private cellar where he showd us some amazing personal possession. Wines from the years his kids were born, wines served at his sister’s wedding and the first wine produce by Manuel. A 15 year old bottle of priceless wine. With very little left and it not being sold you could see the passion in Manuel’s face. Manuel wanted to show us a local village called Chinchilla so we headed there after for an evening meal. At the table we ate some traditional Spanish pinchos and tapas and Manuel had brought a few bottles of wine to taste which included one from the first batch. The liquid inside the bottle hadn’t seen the world in 15 years and as Manuel decanted the beauty I began to feel this amazing feeling of community and enjoyment. The conversation was flying the food was so tasty, no frills no spills just really nice local food. The place was packed, it wasn’t a huge place but it was full. An early night after the long day around 2.30am and I can honestly say one of the best days ever. Breakfast the following morning and a short tour of another part of Madrid where the palace is, we found ourselves in another huge market where every type of person hangs out. From young to old the culture seems to be, I’d rather live with my people then live without my people and the whole thing revolves around food and spending time together. A lot can be learned from cultures like that and being able to visit such places is an honour and a privalage. Trying to make the feeling of being at home is something I want people to feel in our restaurant I guess from spending time abroad in Spain the answer

The answer a Spanish person would give you is “well, what kind of a relationship do you have with yourself, what kind of relationship do you have with your people?” and at the end, they would say, “eating with your people is the only way to be”. When around restaurants and food in Spain you can’t help but feel like you belong or apart of, a beautiful community spirit full of soul, depth and history.

Paul at food on the edge

Food on the edge and a bank holiday weekend

As I sit here in the back room after service I have a chance to reflect on the week that it’s been for me personal and professional. Starting last Sunday the journey to Galway begins. Drive to Galway check in and time for beer. Monday bright and early off to NUIG for food on the edge, a few familiar faces appear a few new ones to acquaint with. For the most part I was alone, i.e. not with my group of Kevin Noel Dale and Dave. Rubbing shoulders with some of the best that the world has to offer and then there’s us. I really enjoyed the whole experience I met several icons for me including Neven mcguire (absolute gent). From there some of Ireland’s producers.

I’ve shorten the above from an essay to a paragraph as I believe nobody wants to read the rant of irrelevant nonsense. If your interested in Food from behind the pass or growing in the field or making cheese this is the place for you. Changed me personally and professionally.

Came back to a steak night provided by one of my old school friends, thank you that steak was amazing, thanks Dad for your input too, much too modest a man to take credit for what he’d deem to he his job and to tell the honest truth a dying art form true butchery skills pulling meat from bones on a carcass to a plate near you.

As always follow the page on Facebook and myself directly @chefpaulc on all social media platforms

Chefs why we do it

Why do we do it……..

Family and friends will never understand
We work every weekend, holiday and special day
Mother’s day, fathers day, birthdays you name it we work it
Unless you have worked as a chef you could never understand the…Why….
For reasons you won’t understand…. not that’s it’s personal well it is but, beyond mosts to really understand ,
Our shortest days are longer than your longest
15 plus hours in a sweat box of heat under pressure from the moment we start till long after you go to bed
While you put on the pjs and brush your teeth we are scrubbing down writing orders filling out paper work only to start early again the next day
And for what…..!!!!!
To express ourselves through food , to tell our story
Lost on most
Boiling pots, sizzling pans , sharp knifes, in a tight space with everybody running around shouting behind , passing,
We cut ourselves, enough to send you to the doctor , we just use duck the or glue and carry on , pain …… we have no time for it …. No place for it ,
Burns that will blister , you don’t stop because of it

The order fly in the pressure mounts but it’s not just physical but mental it will test you and break you nightly
Phyiscally mentally and emotionally every night
For what ……. the few who get it …!!!!
Or care to ..
Well yes ,
We believe or hope that we make a difference to somebody sometime even onetime
Cause that makes it worth while
All the shit,the pain,the missing family
Yes it is worth it
That one moment
Makes it worth while
That one moment that one comment
The best meal ive had
You have made our night special
Yes it easier way the shit the pain the missing
For everybody …..No not even close.
Artist who’s art is never again seen
Poets who’s words are heard once
Painters who’s art is edible
Story.tellers …. but not our story…theirs the producers the grows the farmers
Their stories
We tell theirs not ours
We are the teller.of stories not the story ,

Does it make sense…. not even to us

Rock n roll is dead by Gorka

Rock n roll is dead by Gorka

There was a time no long time ago where our industry was ruled by bad ass , loud , genius, hard sweeting rock and rollers
This post might seem a bit nostalgic but I miss the era of no internet, google, master chefs, Netflix,TripAdvisor,bloggers……
There was a time when the chef was the person to admire,fear,loud….. he was a super rock and roll star
There was a time where everything was about products,suppliers,seasons….and skills
There was a time where the restauranteur was a passionate person, proud , father figure, mentor……not everything was about how many customers, how much money ,where can I buy it cheaper and make more profit ,holidays, more companies, more business, more money……….
There was a time when you where told to shut the f…. up and we were ok with it, we learn our craft and pursue our career and learn and learn and learn
There was a time where the was no shows, screams ,hungover,music
There was a time were food was not just fuel and we will eat what Mother Earth 🌏 provide us
There was a time where maitre d and waiting staff wore precise and immaculate uniforms
There was a time where a chef will appear on tv half drunk and still managed to cook a masterpiece
There was a time that recognition will come from one book and one book only every year , creating excitement and glamour
Funny enough I am posting this on Facebook so undoubtedly, there are good things about modern times
I see no more Marco Pierre whites in kitchen, we are a dying breed ….
Our industry is f…. and if we don’t rebel against it , we have lost
I don’t want to earn 50 euros p hour and put shit food in front of you
I want to cook good food , interact with you , please you , surprise you , be proud of your experience …….. I want the guitar to have this amazing solo…… and I totally refuse to wear skinny jeans and make up on tv…….
I love rock and roll !!!!!

#chef thoughts by Noel

You are the world you have created
And when you cease to exist
This world you have created will also cease to exist

But for those with the understanding that they are living the last days of the world
Death aquires a different meaning
The extinction of all reality
Is a concept no registration can encompass
And then all the grand designs and all the grand plan’s
Will be finally exposed and reviled for they are
Death comes to the prey at speed
A silence of an arrow
I never tire of that
To see somone killed with elegance
Is moving to me
The hunter has grace & beauty
And purely of heart
To be found no where else
You can make no destitution between who they are
And that they do
And what we do is kill
But our faintness of heart is what has driven us to the edge
Prehaps you want to create but nothing iis cruelier than a coward
And the slaughter to come is behond our imagining

#atyourservice by Diarmuid

The call to Arms it came! ‘Ask not what your blog can do for you but what you can do for your blog’ ‘and from this day ’till the day you lay dying in your bed, would you give all those days fron now untill to write a piece for your blog’ We have all see the great movies heard the great spine chilling speech’s we even at times felt compelled to jump off our couch and go out and take on the world.
So what am I referring to What does a blog I follow I read mean to me. I follow like most on social media alot of blogs. I follow food fashion sport and definately any current affair in the world. I love information. I love to be able to converse on most things that are current and to my mind relevant. It’s important to be abreast of All that’s happening in the World when operating at front of house. As I have explained before its my ‘tool of work’ it’s my way to break down all barriers it’s my secret weapon but more importantly I love information and most certainly not in a nosey neighbour way. Most of my Facebook twitter or blogs are not following facebook friends on their night out who they are with etc etc, no my feeds are full of blogs my Snapchat follows all the top bloggers in our industry and beyond.
Ok so what Am I referring to. Noel Keane called to ‘Arms’ this weekend so I thought for a while what I would right here today. I’m writing about ( in case you haven’t gathered ) Social Media. I’m talking about the Internet I’m talking about the importance of Social Media and how it is a massive benefit to all our careers point in case I’m writing this post this evening because Noel reached out thru Social Media on TCG to basically write a blog for the page. I am doing that now. I’m reacting on Social Media to that call. Here I am but more importantly here are you also. I’ve learned so much so often so quickly but more so informality thru Social Media. Long ago when I had my own business I used deligialantly listen to the radio watch TV and drive around in my car to get all the ‘goss’ and that was before going into work. I needed to know what as we say in Limerick ‘what the Craic was’ only to know to be informed to be prepared. I didn’t need to know just to be a nosey nellie ‘to be fore-armed is to be prepared. To gain my own information not second hand. I have that now everyday with just a touch of a button the flick of a screen or a simple search on the ‘net. So what’s new I hear you say. Well we all have our own particular likes and we all have our hobbies and Intrestes in life now Social Media just brought all that a little closer to us all. Some of my favourite past times are hiking walking and amature photography. I now can combine all 3 on one of my favourite blogs Ireland from the Roadside. Who would have thought hobbies and pictures opening new experiences and new friendships all thru SM. Anyhow I digress I think you all know the score at this stage. I now thru TCG appreciate alot more the love the passion and the commitment you guys put into your work. I watch the videos of foragging of fresh produce I admire the dishs you guys present to our guests and I won’t always understand you guys and your madness but I certainly have a huge appreciation and respect for the labour of love and talent you posess. For me I’m better armed better prepared and a bettter operator for all this. Again for me it’s teamwork accross the board and support and love of what we do. Social Media has brought my game now to a different level. I gain information ideas and thankfully when I have time I can share this with fellow bloggers. So yes Ask not what can you do for your blog not what the blog can do for you. That’s the way I see it anyways. Now I’m off to Instagram and follow what interests me next, how knows only last evening I started to follow a ‘gram’ in NY called NewYorksBesteats from all over the 5 boroughs. I’m learning more and I’m loving it. Thanks TCG.
Diarmuid Ring