So today I had the privilege of visiting the Killarney brewery. Where they brew their outstanding range of beers. From stout to larger, blond Ale to red Ale. We received a visit from one of the brewers last week for dinner and he and his partner were delighted to see their beers on our menu. It was such a treat to meet one of the masterminds behind the operation and even though he isn’t the master brewer, he knows his stuff (Thanks John). Seeing the passion and belief in their product can do nothing but inspire. Seeing them use local ingredients in their beers again adding to the ethos we use in our Croí which bolsters my belief.
2017 started like no other, working away busy busy getting ready for another hopeful season. I was working in the Ashe hotel and I enjoyed it but felt a change in the mix. I started working for a company I had previously and there was a travel included in that wasn’t going to work, I’d made a big mistake. Mentally I was not tough enough for the distance and to be fair I bit off more then I could chew. All of a sudden I found myself in business with Noel, Paul and things were about to take a different spin.
We opened Croí in May and to this day “Touch wood” is doing well. The huge change for me in 2017 was my own personal growth. I got a glimpse of what it must be like to be part of something that was far bigger then I. We started a sort of crusade with Tralee Culinary Gangsters, now we were putting money in the mouth. Because we’d met all the local producers previous to this, we felt very passionate about our people, our county and our town. I watched local business people and listened to how they operate which was huge. I’d only ever worked for people and now that I was my own boss with Noel and Paul, the shoes stayed the same but the feet changed. If you read my stuff you’ll know I do do things out of love. The big change foe me in 2017 was my personal growth. Looking at things in a different way. It used to be for others but now it’s for me, my love for Croí is huge and I’ll defend it to the hilt but that’s not the point. The point is about the feeling inside, the respect I have now for some of my previous employers is different. I saw in them what I now see in me. A love and drive and passion that “this will work”. I have met 2 of the best guys anyone would have the pleasure of meeting. Noel and Paul are my solids. Working together and owning a business is different, this is my money now and ain’t no body goin mess with that but my passion is still people.
Well it’s been a hell of a year, it started as 2016 ended I was head chef in eabha Jones restaurant listowel, and planning the year ahead , with theme nights as they were a big success in 2016 there the plan was to continue them, January was quite a busy month in the restaurant as well.i had just started buying Cordals goats cheese from Shane it is one of the finest I have come across, Max was selling mozzeralla at the Listowel farmers market made locally so Once upon a cheese mozzeralla was on the menu.
Thought January I worked on an advertising campaign for Leahs foods & did a photo shoot for them and designed there banners, at work it was planning, theme nights, Valentine etc
February saw Jimmy ask to help on ideas for smoking so over the course of the next few weeks we smoked everything & anything from garlic and wild leek to duck & fish , mostly to a degree of success,
Wild oysters as big as my hand were foraged & seabeat and purslane from ballylongford, as the end of February came, a letter from the R.A.I. let us know we were nominated for best chef, best casual dining a nice way to end the month , as talks started as to who would go,
March saw me meet Peter Curran for the first, this would develop and be important later on , on this occasion it was for a video for tralee culinary gangsters Facebook page, it is a very interesting video , by the second week of March I was named a taste Kerry food ambassador, and was now running 7 social media accounts for businesses, cause you know ……
The videos were coming quick now as we did Shane at Cordals goat cheese, and John griffins gave us a masterclass in sausage making,
April was where it all changed in the end, as April started we did a cooking video in my kitchen nothing unusual there, all craic and banter, and we started planning both the next video interviews and cooking videos for the end of the month, by mid April myself, Kevin & Paul had agreed to be partner’s in a restaurant, Croí , the end of April is a whirlwind romance and mess all at the same time, as we set about to open a restaurant with a limited budget and no time while finishing out our present jobs,
Monday 1st may at 11am we got the keys to the restaurant, and the next few days are a blur, we opened for business at 5 o clock Friday restaurant re done , the first table in at 5 was a regular at the previous restaurant , and complained about everything , place to bright didn’t like the new seating , new table set up , menu food I could go on……. A great way to open your first business eh….
The rest of may is pretty much a blur, we were busy and finding our feet training in staff ,
June continued like May 7 days a week early to late , first week of june dishwasher packs up, second week sinks block then a leak in the restaurant, drains block , a great start,
Mid June we were asked to talk to the culinary students at the ETB training centre, and from that David joined the team at Croí,
Go wild magazine named me as one of the signature chefs of the wild Atlantic way .
And an appearance in their magazine ensued ,
As July rolled in it saw the first appearance of a favourite dish of mine to date
A taste of the sea, scallops,clams,crab claws with trout caviar and a seaweed foam under a dome of Apple wood smoke , an instant hit with the customer’s.
Restaurant Ireland awards us 5 stars by the end of July, and I do a BBQ on top of HQ 5 stories up for a bit of fun,
Tuesday 4th sees the start of the mural on the side of Croí it’s a big space to cover,an artist impression of the first rose of tralee & her love. It turned out beautiful and is becoming increasingly an image of tralee ,
The Sunday independent mentioned us as a place to watch & vist and shane smith did a photo shoot for yes chef magazine ,summer is in full swing and a great time for foraging as well with heaps of goodness out there,
A cookery demo in the dome for taste Kerry & a visit for dinner by Nora Casey during the rose of tralee brought a busy month
September start with a personal point as I was made a member of euro toques , and the polly tunnels were started, taking only 2 days for 2 30 foot polly tunnels as we start to grow through the winter as well, we revive a highly recommended from Yes chef magazine and are shortlisted in three categories for their industry awards, and we book our tickets to food on the edge, I was meant to go last year but in the end couldn’t so I wasn’t gonna miss it this year, as the month was coming to a close we did a charity night for the donal Walsh foundation, Elaine kinsella of radio was the guest celebrity chef for the eveni my, the event was a great success and the start of the tralee food festival which should have had a demo by us Saturday in the square at 1 but it down poured and was called off, by now the polly tunnels are fully planted by John of 52week vegetable gardener, who will oversee and guide me on the grownimg journey.
The restaurant is still busy , which of course is great , Kevin has taken a break and Paul has had a few days off so the plan is that either/or both October/ November will be quite and I’ll take a few days,
As mentioned we were off to food on the edge in what turned out to be a busy month on all fronts we remained busy through October & November, and food on the edge was for me anyway an inspiration, a lesson, a mind opener, a turning point in many ways,
Shortly after that we were off to the yes chef awards and took all the staff with us,
And we won best newcomer Munster award , what a way to end the month,….
November again saw lots happening first up was a cookery demo with myself Kevin, Marcus and max for ardfert national school,
Then the 100 day whiskey aged rib eye was started
Now the tunnels are producing away as well and unplanned cookery demo was landed on us last minute so myself Kevin & max did one in Garveys supermarket tralee, , Dale joined us on work experience
With our involvement a Christmas market was running every Friday through December so we opened for lunch these days , I hate doing lunch I really do……..
Our plaque arrived from Yes chef awards, and we got Another one a week later from Lucinda o Sullivan plaque of great places to eat 2018 who h was a welcome surprise
So as I sit here looking back at the last 12 months it’s been some ride and many laughs along the way, lots of highs and lows of course, trials & tribulations, but mostly fun and good times .
I know I left out loads from may on I could have wrote pages per month
But this will do for now
History of Ice Cream
A.D 54-68: For centuries, iced desserts were a luxury. Roman Emperor Nero is said to have sent his slaves into the mountains surrounding Rome, to fetch snow to mix with nectar, fruit pulp and honey.
A.D 618-907: The origins of ice cream date back to China’s T’ang period, probably as a dish for the country’s noble men. The founder of the dynasty, King T’ang of Shang, kept 94 “ice men” on hand to lug ice to the palace to make a dish of koumiss (heated, fermented milk), flour and camphor.
A.D 1295: Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what is now called sherbet. Historians estimate that this recipe evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th century.
A.D 1744: American colonists brought along recipes from Europe. On May 19th, 1744, a group of VIP’s dined at the home or Maryland Governor Thomas Bladen. Present was a Scottish colonist who described “A Dessert…Among the Rarities of which is was Compos’d, was some fine Ice Cream which, with the Strawberries and Milk, eat most deliciously.” This is the first written account of ice cream consumption in the new colonies.
A.D 1782: Martha Washington once left a bowl of sweet cream on the back steps of Mount Vernon one night, and the next morning discovered ice cream. (frozen sweet cream).
A.D 1843: Until September 9th 1843, ice cream was made by the “pot freezer method,” but on this day Nancy M. Johnson of Philadelphia got her “artificial freezer” patented, containing a tub, cylinder, lid, dasher, and crank. This design is still widely used today.
A.D 1851: Baltimore dairyman Jacob Fussell opened the first commercial ice cream factory. He had a surplus of cream – so he built an ice cream factory in Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania, and shipped it to Baltimore by train. Business boomed, and Fussell became the father of the wholesale ice cream industry.
A.D 1880: The ice cream sundae was invented on the eastern side of the US. It was invented because ice cream sodas weren’t allowed to be sold on Sundays; the ice cream sundae was a way to circumvent that restriction. On September 22,1903, there is a recorded application for a patent for the ice cream cone by Italo Marchiony.
A.D 1939: Grocery stores didn’t start selling ice cream until the 1930’s, and by WWII, ice cream had become so popular that it turned into somewhat of an American symbol (Mussolini banned it from Italy for that very reason). Ice Cream was great for troop morale, and in 1943 the U.S Armed Forces were the worlds largest ice cream manufacturers.
Food on the Edge.
Last October I had the privilege of going to a symposium of chefs that is one of the biggest in the world. With roughly 40 Michilin stars walking around, shaking hands and spinning yarns about our trade and our responsabillity to our people. As restaurateurs we are responsible for bringing people’s attention to the right or wrong things to eat.
At Food on the Edge some of the brightest minds on the planet educated us on issues of mental health, sustainability and the joy of friendship in hospitality. With the introduction of social media it has made it easier to share stories and aid each other with issues in the trade. Also passing on local suppliers information and meeting with some of the big names in Ireland. My mind had been opened up buy two speakers especially, Anna Haugh blew me away with stories of bullying that brought tears to my eyes and James Viles who’s philosophy is still Hunter Gatherer, if you ain’t willing to slit it’s throat then you shouldn’t be eating it to begin with.
Now I’m going to speak a bit about J.P. McMahon, an Irish Michilin star chef (Anier in Galway city) that is so passionate about being Irish it’s not funny. His belief in humanity is infectious. His desire seems to be that we in the trade raise the bar on the impact chefs have on what we eat and more importantly the FACT that 50% of the world’s food is being dumped yet there is starvation on the planet. Have you ever gone to the shop to buy something and you see there’s a two for one special on for it so you buy it? You only went in for one and came out with two. Generally the second one is going in the bin so I guess there’s your 50%.
Food on the Edge is a celebrcelebration of culture, food culture and let’s face it, from birth to death every occasion revolves around food. So I wonder why we struggle to combat food that really isn’t healthy. Is it convenience, education or what? Who is responsible? Parents, teachers, politicians or people that have a love for food? To understand what I mean you’d have to hear what I’ve heard for example there are butcher’s around here selling upwards on twelve thousand foreign chicken breast A WEEK. Come on we are surrounded by fields and people, surely we can do better then what we are doing. The Amazon rain forest is being depleted by agriculture. Chopping down trees to plant soya bean to grow cattle. The Amazon is almost gone so the whole we need oxagyn to breath thing really isn’t hitting home. What do you think we can do to make things better, because we are failing miserably on this one which is our own basic existence and I would like to make the point while you read this, that saying I can’t change anything is the defeated attitude. If we don’t change then the people that have a self sustaining society in play are on the winning team but we have to remember that those people are probably the organisers of the whole downfall of the food culture. We at Croí will be attending Food on the Edge again this year, ready to meet some big name in food and to see how J.P’s action/reaction plan is going. My advise to those who care is simply spend a little more if necessary, I understand things are tight but the more you buy the cheap stuff the tighter things will get in the future. Buy from Holland, Spain, Brazil, China etc. etc. then say goodbye to OUR money because it’s now gone abroad. Please support local, please support your neighbour and please teach the kids how to eat right…..