The click of an amazing service.
Running with the herd is pretty much what it feels like on a busy Saturday night. The key is space, everyone need their space, section, customers and time. The dance of a busy restaurant is a very fine art and in order to be at your best you must respect the job you do. Focus and planning is what it’s all about. Times are the dictator and knowing what your kitchen and restaurant can handle so as not to mess the whole thing up is key. 8pm Saturday night and you fill the beast after already clearing a full first sitting is a bad move. The kitchen build, like it’s a practice run in the first sitting, the head chef voicing with accuracy as the team dance to their own rythem so as everything my come to the same end, service.
That’s us, the team out front that pound it out but on a sweet night it’s very hard to explain and I can only ever say how it feels for me. It feels like a bright white ball of light is in the center of my chest. An energy flows through the body and self awareness goes through the roof because being in control is your job at this point, that sounds very serious I know but you will pay hard earned cash to experience.
Giving is another key I believe one must be, to give the people time, time to arrive, be seated, take in their surroundings if indeed this is their first time. Chilled water is such a gimme these days but in order to provide there is a cost, bread and dips. Giving is also knowing and building a trust between you and your people. We give our story as to wear our hearts on our sleeves because we believe in the ethos, we respect our planet and we respect our guests.
Now it’s the staff’s turn, firstly there is the start of the shift and let’s just say like a super football club a player can get injured, a sniffley noes and it off home to bed with some Lemsip and hopefully a cuddle. While this causes a ripple effect through a small team like the vibrations of a wave that started 3 hours ago and service hasn’t started yet, We are full. On a sweet night when you sit down at the end of that night, you know you did good you feel better then a lotto winner. Every guest shows on time and every guess leaves blown away because the service was great is an emotional feeling you can’t compare. Sales is a feeling of giving in a different way and generally something that is a service but waiting is a skill given in order to please your need. Sometimes the chef and I at different times stand to listen with closed eyes as we hear the people busy enjoying their time. Cutlery dancing and wine glasses singing, the dance of a service is gold.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in our restaurant and welled up with tears of joy on a night where everything went our way. The team I have support our cause, they see the head chef and the struggle he breaths, with a kitchen no bigger then a standard sitting room but still he makes it work. Regulated the gills, he makes it work. An admirable man and we fight for that cause. We change our wines as to deliver the perfect glass to each individual but keep them on their toes by introducing them to more so the mind can travel. “Oh hello sir, good to see you. Yes, I believe the merlot isn’t it? I see you’ve ordered the steak, try this taster of Malbec too and see how the flavour works with the steak”. “You know, I have an amazing Australian Chardonnay that will go with that, would you like to taste?” Is an art, a dance, a rythem of it own and the pleasure one can feel like there is no other. Feed is a need, dining out is a pleasure. The beauty of what we do has a soul of its own created by all who are involved.
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.
As always stay tuned,
@chefpaulc on all social media platforms.
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….
Roasted Mooncoin Beet, Ruby Red Grapefruit, and Warm apairy Honey Salad
2 Ruby Red grapefruits
3 medium red beets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons local honey
1 (1-inch) rosemary sprig
Flaky sea salt, for garnish
How to Make It
Using a sharp knife, cut the skin and bitter white pith from grapefruits. Working over a medium bowl, cut in between the membranes to release sections, and cut sections in half. Squeeze juice from membranes into bowl.
Preheat oven to 160. On a large sheet of heavy-duty tin foil, rub beets with olive oil and season with salt. Wrap beets in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 50 minutes. Unwrap beets and let cool slightly, then rub skins off with paper towels. Cut beets into 1/4-inch wedges. Add to bowl with grapefruit. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Transfer to platter.
In a small saucepan, warm honey and rosemary sprig over moderately low heat. Remove sprig, and drizzle rosemary honey over salad. Garnish with flaky sea salt
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
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