Was 16 when I was offered my first job, wasn’t chefing it was actually meant to be a kitchen porter, but my head chef and mentor for the past almost 8 years looked at me and said get a uniform you start Monday, I didn’t want to chef at the start, just wanted money cause I was Young, never liked the job as a chef until I was shown how to cook and found out you can never stop learning, fell in love with it and my trade and wanted to learn all the time, still to this day I google and research recipes and cooking skills, love what I do and I am always excited to learn more and will never get enough knowledge because it’s endless
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…
Having survived the winter, many plants appear from their winter slumber, light shines for a little bit longer each day the ground encourages growth and light awakens new life in the trees and the hedges of our country side.
The first of which is the gorse, or furze bush with its bright yellow flowers and unmistakably sore thorns. (Use scissors) a bunch of these flowers smells like coconut when inhaled.
Though it has many medicinal purposes it was used alongside the hawthorn as the first wines in this country.
I personally love the smell. Next on my list is the unmistakable aroma from the sweet Briar or flowering currant in mid to late spring.
In the forest the chickweed is still going strong while it’s friends wild garlic, sorrel and chervil come to life. I’ve written enough about these herbs in the past this year the elf cup mushrooms and turkey tails are out in force on dead and dying wood, the more I look the more I see.
Though there isn’t many varieties of mushrooms at this time of year in our little patch of forestry, more appear later.
Looking forward to the year ahead where in my position in the hotel, I’m looking after the herb garden an I’m taking a few of the crew with me on the journey through the year.
Follow the progress @chefpaulc on the usual places
Name: David Culleton
Nickname : Dave / Dáithi
Position : commi
Place of work: Croi
I started in a culinary arts course 8 weeks ago, firstly to get the social welfare off of my back.
But after been in the kitchen few a weeks in college and in croi one day a week, the love and passion, not just for cooking but food in general has grown, as student I find myself wanting to learn more, but also as a father of two children I find I am trying to pass on what I know to my eldest children, as much as this is about food and cooking I find that these skills as very good life skills to have at any age
Nourish by Nature is Kerry’s first combined Cookery School and Complementary Therapy Centre. Run by Sid and Angela Sheehan, it offers a unique experience for the healthy eating enthusiast. Sid is a Chef for many years and also a qualified Nutritional Therapist while his wife Angela is a Reflexologist and Hawaiian Massage Therapist. Both Sid and Angela passionately believe there is a direct link between what you eat and your mental and physical well-being. They are committed to inspiring people, to take responsibility for their own health, by sharing with them their knowledge and experience.
There are a range of demonstration classes from Home Baking to one Pot Dishes, Basic Cookery to Fresh from the Sea. Some of their more dietary specific classes include Healing with Wholefoods, Cancer Fighting Foods, Hormone Balancing through Diet, Gluten & Dairy Free and many more. Their diverse range of evening classes has something to suit everybody’s needs. Another popular service they offer is a themed dining experience where individuals bring their own wine/beer. The school caters for small groups of up to ten people hence making each class very personal and relaxed.
More information can be found on
Phone: 087 3848818
Nourish by Nature Listowel
name James MCCarthy .
nickname james macdaddy McCarthy
My story so far working in the kitchen started when I attended I.T Tralee. During my 1st year there I got my first job in the industry working in the horseshoe restaurant in listowel. I stayed there for a year until I moved to a restaurant called eabha joans.
I started there during their 1st week of being open. it is here where I can thank ger for really opening my eyes and showing me how to control the pass, how to put a menu together and for creating a circle of what I now call close friends. I spent nearly 2 years there until I eventually left.
A few days after leaving i got a phone call to work in the brogue in Tralee. the head chef there had worked in eabha jones before, one of the close friends I mentioned before. I spent another 2 years working in the brogue. During my last few months at working at the brogue I became a proud dad with all the hours in the kitchen and new born baby at home it was a hard decision but i decided to step away from the kitchen and move back to listowel to work in a deli. less hours means more time with the family. to say I miss the buzz of the kitchen is an understatement
but thankfully I started to do a few hours now working beside noel in eabha joans again where I do Friday and Sunday nights mostly and tbh there the nights I look forward to the most during the week
NAME .. Gary Quigley
NICKNAME .. Gary G.Q. Quigley
POSITION ..Head Chef
PLACE OF WORK .. The Elm Leaf
WHEN STARTED .. 1995 in the setanta hotel where I worked as a commie chef
WHY.. Its was a fun Environment to work in plus you never go hungry J
HIGHLIGHTS OF CAREER ..Cooking for.. Tina turner,Foo Fighters, Julia Roberts,Bono,Steve Collins,Conor mc Gregor , Shane McGowan
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT FOOD .. I love that you can do and try anything as there are no set rules , you are the scientist of your own creations
FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS … Has to be Basil I love it in my starters, mains and desserts
Name: Paul “baby elephant” Cotter
Place: eabhajoans listowel
I have been working in the kitchen for 4 years now. I suppose it was a chance opportunity for me in the kitchen being offered to go on a trainee management programme and being asked which department I wanted to go to first and saying kitchen. It was I admit the best decision I have ever made even though I wanted to leave the kitchen after a few bad services.
The highlight of my career thus far was working in preachers restaurant in doon Co.Limerick. Where the setting was an old converted church the atmosphere was magical. The food was 2nd to none. The flavours and textures unbelievable as well as the team in FOH
What I like about food is how it can bring people together over the table, from celebration dinners to the funeral lunch, whether it’s a happy or sad occasion it’s often the simple food that brings everyone together. The food that has had the biggest imprint is that of my mother and grandmother because as a child it was their food that inspires me to make my food better and push the amount of flavours I can squeeze out of everything I make and do in the kitchen.
My favourite ingredient is tarragon it’s smell it’s taste it’s versatility in fish dishes, meat dishes vegetable dishes and sauces.
Keep the pans hot and the knives sharp