The importance of training and investing in staff

The importance of training and investing in staff

Our Managing Director, Shane McLave, featured in the latest edition of Drinks Industry Ireland magazine discussing the importance of investing in staff. Highlighting that while offering an extensive package is crucial for the success of your business, providing training is equally important in order to retain your employees.

It really doesn’t matter how fantastic a Bar, Restaurant or Hotel you have, and it doesn’t matter how many millions you invest in cutting edge design, out of this world locations, great menus, and cocktails, if you neglect to invest in your team and empower them to excel as the finest in their field, then everything else becomes inconsequential.

I’ve been involved with the hospitality industry since the age of 16, starting my journey in kitchens as a Kitchen Porter and progressing to the role of Head Chef. Eventually, I transitioned into the field of recruitment, where I acquired extensive insights into various facets of the industry. This journey was fueled by my experience working with renowned brands nationwide and connecting great people with outstanding companies.

In recent years, as unemployment rates have reached historic lows, the landscape of job offers has significantly expanded when it comes to potential employers vying for candidates. We’ve witnessed a notable shift where individuals are no longer solely driven by the highest salary but are instead making decisions based on the overall package offered. This package now includes an array of benefits, such as health insurance, additional annual leave, mental health days, extended sick leave, pension plans, car allowances, tax-saving travel options, signing bonuses, loyalty rewards, flexible work hours, remote and hybrid work arrangements, gym memberships, complimentary meals, provided uniforms, social club memberships, accommodation assistance or allowances, and job-sharing options, among others. Despite this myriad of enticing perks, one of the most frequently asked questions I encounter from candidates is centered around the training opportunities and prospects for career advancement. In summary, while offering an extensive package is crucial for the success of your hospitality business, providing top-notch training is equally essential and holds significant importance for the individuals you bring on board.

A big part of what we do in Excel Recruitment revolves around supporting and promoting the hospitality industry and one of the many ways we do this is through sponsoring and judging awards. Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to embark on an incredible journey across Ireland, exploring a diverse range of Bars, Hotels, Spas, and Restaurants. After meticulously visiting and thoroughly evaluating each property, our panel of judges convenes to meticulously review every entry, scrutinising the scores and deliberating extensively to determine the overall winners. Our panel of judges comprises an extensive spectrum of industry experts, encompassing lecturers from leading Hospitality Colleges, seasoned Hotel General Managers, accomplished Recruiters, seasoned Professional Food Critics, and a cadre of industry professionals. Some of these individuals boast a lifetime of experience in managing some of the most renowned establishments in Ireland.

Throughout my years of judging various establishments, I’ve encountered quite a diverse range of experiences. Among them, there have been numerous winners, but what stands out is the element of surprise. There have been instances where I entered with certain expectations, only to have my opinions completely transformed. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that the single most influential factor in shaping my judgment has consistently been the staff I encountered and interacted with.

I’ve visited opulent five-star hotels and high-end bars where the surroundings were truly breath-taking, yet the service provided was nothing short of disappointing, resulting in an overall unpleasant experience. Conversely, I’ve ventured into places that were initially unfamiliar or appeared rather average, only to be blown away by the level of service and the engaging personalities of those who interacted with me. In such cases, I had no option but to bestow upon them the highest possible ratings.

One of my favourite places that I discovered during my judging duties, has now become my go to destination during my leisure time. My initial interaction was memorable for all the wrong reasons – a waiter inadvertently spilling my drink on my dinner, which subsequently fell onto me. However, it was the remarkable handling of this situation that truly impressed me.

We all understand that things can go smoothly when all is well, but the real measure of success lies in how challenges are navigated and turned around. In essence, no matter how many millions you invest in a venue, it pales in comparison if the staff aren’t genuinely content in their roles and equipped to skilfully manage every circumstance. True excellence stems from the people who make it happen.

If you’re looking for hospitality training, you can visit our sister company websites futureprooftraining.ie or  irishbaristaacademy.ie for more information.

You can check out this feature in the Drinks Industry Ireland magazine here

Shane McLave Paul Wallace Pura

Excel’s Managing Director, Shane McLave, met with Paul Wallace to discuss his new venture Pura

Although Paul Wallace retired from professional rugby twenty years ago, we still see him on TV regularly on Sky Sports or hear him on the radio talking with vast knowledge and passion about the sport that he excelled in during his career, from playing with UCC, Munster, Leinster, Saracens, Ireland, and the British and Irish Lions. Paul started out during the period before professional rugby was even a thing, and talking to him last week after Munster won the URC, you can tell that his enthusiasm for Rugby is equally matched by his enthusiasm for his new venture “Pura”.

Pura, distributed by Natio, has a range of 100% natural ingredient-based canned sodas and infused fruit drinks in cartons aimed at kids, with no colourants or preservatives and low in sugar. I met with Paul recently to taste some of the products and chat to him about how he ended up involved in the drinks industry.

How did you end up in the drinks industry?

I was lucky in my rugby career that I got to travel a lot for games, and while we were on the pitch, even though we were adversaries, I made some lifelong and lasting friendships. It was through my time playing in South Africa that a friend I made there contacted me to see if I would be interested in coming on board with Pura. I studied Business at UCC and have worked in the international commercial property sector since I stopped playing professional rugby.

There are plenty of drinks on the market with zero calories. What makes Pura different or healthier than them?

Pura are a low-calorie drink, not a no-calorie one, and offer a fantastic range of mixers that we would see replacing many of the current favourites, shaking up the traditional mixer market. Our products are made from 100% natural ingredients. We do have a small amount of sugar in our products, but they are natural, and as sugar has been around for a very long time, we know what the pros and cons are. Whereas, with the many zero-calorie products that are available, the only way this can be done is with artificial additives, like aspartame, that we know for a fact is a carcinogen, and as with many other sweeteners, we don’t even know what some of the other long-term effects could be. People look at zero-calorie beverages and think that it must be ok to drink them in high quantities daily, but this is sadly not the case. As a father of two 5-year-olds, I know extremely well how many products out there aimed at kids are full of nasty stuff, and I personally believe there should be a tax on artificial sweeteners and not just on sugar. I think any kind of soda, whether it is aimed at kids or adults, needs to be a special treat that you can have once or twice a week.

As somebody who sells beverages with a healthier natural USP, what is your opinion on alcohol when it comes to the sponsorship of sports?

I think that when it comes to sporting organisations, many of them rely heavily on the sponsorship that they receive and would struggle to continue if this funding was banned altogether, but at the same time, the approach to this needs to be based on common sense. I think the zero-alcohol movement has been a good compromise, as sports and alcohol don’t mix in many ways. I have always been big on fitness, and I think that with the level that many sports are played at now, across many different disciplines, if you want to be at the top of your game, you would be advised to steer clear as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go for a few pints of Guinness in Franks of Monkstown or Donny and Nesbitt, and I love the atmosphere that you can find when you go into many of the fantastic pubs we are blessed with in Ireland, so I am not anti-alcohol, but just like sugar, you have to think of it as a treat and drink responsibly.

Check out Pura at www.livealittlepura.com for more information.

Career trajectories

Career Trajectories – Shane McLave, Managing Director

Our Managing Director, Shane McLave featured in Drinks Industry Ireland speaking to James Doherty of Sliabh Liag Distillers about his career trajectory which led him to establish his drinks business.

As a recruiter, I regularly meet with people who ask me for advice on their career, whether they have been working in a particular role or industry, have lost faith in the industry or the particular job they are in, or if they are looking for a change but they don’t know where to start or what the possibilities are for them.

However, in my experience, it’s not as simple as picking a career, going to college to study, and/or landing your dream job. As a result, the advice I give to people is that your dream job and the skills you need for it are normally built up over a number of years and through working in many different jobs or industries. Most people have three distinct periods in their working life, each period as important as the other in shaping what we end up doing. The first jobs we get as teenagers or students are often part-time jobs in retail or hospitality and the careers that we have in our 20s and 30s are typically related to our studies along with the time in our lives when we want the security to buy a home or start a family and sometimes, the lucky ones end up realising what their real passion is and what is most important to them to give them a sense of purpose and satisfaction whether this is through gaining a work life balance or simply doing something that they feel makes a difference to the lives of others or helps them leave their mark on the world.

Career trajectory

This week, I had the pleasure of talking to James Doherty of Sliabh Liag Distillers about his journey from growing up and studying as an engineer in the UK to working in Africa and then moving into a sales role in Asia, before returning to his ancestral home in Donegal. Doherty ended up founding and building the first distillery to legally produce whiskey in Donegal since 1841. I asked him a few questions about his career to date. With all the nervousness we see reported in the media about our over reliance as an economy on corporate tax and overseas multinationals, I found it really heartening to talk to James about the current and future possibilities around some of our indigenous industries and how they are helping to bring employment and prosperity in a sustainable way to so many towns around the island of Ireland.

How did you end up in the drinks industry?

Almost by accident, an engineer by training, I came home from growing tea in Africa to the UK and managed to grab a break with WM Grants (Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Hendricks) in a sales role (despite my lack of experience) and a few years later, I was on the board. I left them with a wanderlust and headed to Asia with my family where we did pretty well too, and then decided we could do spirits brands and distilleries in a different way to the big corporates – the result is the Ardara Distillery, the home of Sliabh Liag Distillers, An Dúlamán Gin and The Silkie Irish Whiskey. The business is growing rapidly, while creating opportunities locally and doing so against a macro back drop that is really challenging.

Can you give me a brief history of the company?

We started in 2015, with an ambition to reclaim the distilling heritage of Donegal. We unfortunately lost a bit of time to some ridiculous land issues but still built the gin distillery in 2017, and launched An Dulaman Gin (currently in 35 countries). We also launched Silkie Irish whiskey as it is now in 2019 and have shipped to 40 countries and sold almost 15,000 9L cases. Subsequently, we distilled the first whiskey in 2020 before building the main whiskey building in 2021. Our first whiskey will be released in July of this year – the first legally distilled whiskey in Donegal since 1841.

How many people are now employed by the distillery and what do you think the industry is worth to the wider economy?

Currently, we have built the team up to 26 employees, but we expect to have up to 40 in due course who will be based at the distillery in Ardara and the bottling hall in Carrick. The majority of our employees work in Carrick in the bottling and administration centre, and we also have a few people based internationally. The export value (the distillery gate if you like) of the Irish whiskey industry exceeded €1bn for the first time in 2022, and don’t forget that 96% is exported.

How many people are employed directly in the Irish whiskey industry and are you seeing challenges in the current labour market?

Approximately 2,000 people are employed across the island. The labour situation is tight, but this hasn’t specifically impacted us in our own distillery as we have a pretty stable team. The competition for talented people is very intense due to the positive growth we are seeing within the sector.

 

You can check out this feature in the Drinks Industry Ireland magazine here

staff training

The importance of good staff training

Our Managing Director, Shane McLave featured in Drinks Industry Ireland to explain how the small details in hospitality can make or break the customer experience, which is why it’s vital to invest in staff training

When it comes to pouring the perfect pint of Guinness, as a nation we are extremely critical and rightly so as it is our national drink and no one wants to see it being poured too quickly with a bishop’s collar or running down the outside of the glass. The basics are important to the whole experience and must be right or the drink will be sent right back by any self-respecting stout aficionado.

So why is it when it comes to another hugely popular drink, the gin and tonic, we so frequently get it so wrong?

The answer is simple; we need to invest in training people. So what are we doing wrong and what should we be doing differently? Let’s start with the ice; a perfect G&T should have four large cubes in it but scrapping out the bucket with loads of tiny shards will result in a watery drink. The ice should also be put into the glass first to both cool the glass and prevent the gin from being bruised or cloudy as can happen when the ice is dropped into warm gin as opposed to being poured over ice. The next critical step is to have the correct tonic. With over 70 Irish gins alone as well as 20 or so gins from other locations it is foolish to have just one tonic to pick from as some just simply clash with the gins and become flavourless or cancel each other out. Perhaps the most important thing that can be done to improve quality is to chill your mixers as this will do two things; it will reduce the time that it takes for the ice to melt and water down your drink and it will keep the drink carbonated for longer as room temperature mixers will go flatter quicker.

The style of glass and garnish will always come down to personal taste. My own favourite is An Dulman Irish Maritime Gin with regular Schweppes tonic water served in a copa with a slice of dried lime but if the correct processes are followed then no matter what combination people ask for, quality should be assured.

Junior staff knowledge gap

The workforce has changed since Covid and the industry needs to be mindful that junior bar staff may not have the same knowledge and expertise of more senior staff as they are just starting out in the hospitality industry.

Many bar staff are working part time while planning other careers outside of hospitality. With this in mind and the higher than ever turnover in staff, it is more important than ever that training and upskilling are done on a daily basis so the customer experience is a good one. One or two poor comments on the likes of Instagram or Facebook can so quickly go viral and be extremely damaging to any establishment when it comes to hard fought for clientele.

If you don’t have the knowledge base in your current team that can implement daily training of staff then perhaps a monthly masterclass would suit better and there are several places you can go for this such as your wine and spirits distribution company or onsite training specialists like Future Proof Training, that can come on site or train in a classroom setting in areas such as HACCP and manual handling, upselling and customer service, barista skills, introduction to wine and essential bar. Check out www.futureprooftraining.ie for more information.

You can check out this feature in the Drinks Industry Ireland magazine here

Chef jobs

The Benefit of First-Hand Chef Experience When Recruiting For Top Talent in The Hospitality Industry

Excel Recruitment is delighted that our very own Recruitment Consultant, Neil Redmond, will feature in the next edition of the Irish Hospitality Institute’s, Hospitality Network Newsletter. In this feature, Neil talks about his background as a chef and why he decided to make the switch to recruitment. Check out the article below.

Originating from Blanchardstown, Neil Redmond started his culinary career working as a Commis Chef in local restaurants while attending DIT on Cathal Brugha Street.

Neil’s culinary career officially started to take shape post college, where he started working under Dylan McGrath in the opening of the Rustic Stone. Following on from this, in the early 2010’s Dylan McGrath, renowned as a ‘creative genius’ and Michelin starred chef opened Fade Street Social where Neil once again, stepped up his culinary skills in the kitchen and learned even more about in-depth fine dining & cooking techniques.

With such an incredible culinary background, we managed to pull Neil away from the kitchen and his new recruiting role to find out why he decided to switch careers and become a recruiter for the Hospitality Sector.

Tell us a little bit about your background Neil… What inspired you to become a chef?

From a young age, I experimented with flavours and ingredients in my own time at home. So, when I started working as a Commis Chef in local restaurants, my love of food & creative dishes really began to flourish. After I finished college, I was lucky to have gained some expert tips & advice from Dylan McGrath during my 2-year stint working in the Rustic Stone. I was later given the opportunity to train under the culinary leadership of Ryan Stringer at Ely for another two years where I really started to come into my own, forging new and varied culinary talents. From there, I decided to work with an old friend of mine in the Old Schoolhouse in Swords. This position really progressed my expertise in the industry as it was here that I ran my first upstairs 60-seater Restaurant, and as a result, I was delighted to accomplish a number of awards thereafter.

Do you have a top tip that you share with people in the kitchen? How has your background as a Chef Transitioned into a recruiting position?

Always follow your Chef’s direction and trust their guidance. Ask questions, I have always been fascinated by the why, for example, why do lamb and rosemary go well together. What makes that work? check seasoning. Learn from mistakes. Everyone makes a mistake, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, a mistake can be a great teacher. It’s how we refine our skills as Chefs. Every dish is a reflection of the Chef and the establishment. One dish has the power to set the tone for an entire evening, so it’s important for a Chef to have that passion and show it on the plate.

While I was working in the Old Schoolhouse in Swords, I was given the opportunity to assist in the opening of Ruby’s. This was an exciting experience where I had a lot of involvement in the development of the menu, opening of the restaurant, training of staff, and establishing standard operating procedures. In the latter part of my career, I worked for almost four years at Press Up entertainment where I was involved in the opening of several high-profile properties including Dollard & Co, The Mayson Hotel, Doolally (working alongside Alfred Prasad who currently holds 2 Michelin Stars), Stella Theatre, and Cara’s (part of Centerparcs) to name but a few. Each role required me to provide support & development to their staff and since then, I gradually transitioned into the Hospitality Recruitment Industry.

What are you most excited about in your new career with Excel Recruitment?

In my previous positions, I would have spent a lot of time in each individual venue that needed support. I really began to understand what was needed from all levels of staffing requirements, and it really spurred on my passion to recruit the right type of talent for this industry. With nationwide staffing shortages, the time has never been more important to partner with a reliable recruitment agency. Excel is Ireland’s leading specialist recruitment agency holding a database of over 1000 clients, 85,000 candidates and a team of 80 expert recruiters. With four offices located in Dublin, Kildare, Cork, and Galway, Excel has rapidly become the largest hospitality recruitment firm in Ireland. Therefore, it made sense for me to further my Recruitment Industry experience within an established business who understands what the Hospitality industry needs to succeed. I have also worked with the panel of Chefs of Ireland for a number of years, and I even competed in Chef Ireland over my career journey with moderate success achieved. I thoroughly understand the career aspirations of my candidates and I also know what businesses require from staff to run a busy restaurant. Get in touch with me if you need advice and I will help in whatever way I can.

You can contact Neil for more information by calling 087 625 6793 or you can email Neil at neil@excelrecruitment.com. Please click here to search for all of our live chef roles.

SHANE MCLAVE, DIRECTOR , EXCEL RECRUITMENT

Reopening reaction: Director Shane Mclave on what the government’s guidelines mean for hospitality

Excel’s Director Shane Mclave gives his thoughts on the recent government guidelines ( and their ongoing updates) for the hospitality industry’s re-opening and what more needs to be done to support the industry.

The much-awaited guidelines for hospitality businesses reopening arrived last week, with further developments since and more expected to come. All have been met with a very mixed reaction. Some of these guidelines absolutely make sense in terms of keeping everyone safe, while some of them seem plucked out of thin air and do no more than hinder hospitality businesses trying to return to profitability. Under the latest guidelines, patrons are given a 105 minute limit on the time they can spend in a pub or restaurant. But why? This seems to be an arbitrary number plucked out of thin air, with no real basis in science from what anyone can tell. Another concerning guideline for wedding venues and hotels is the onus being placed on staff to maintain social distancing at all times, including on dancefloors. How can anyone expect this to work in real-life without placing an increased workload on staff or potentially jeopardising guest experience? One of the biggest questions for businesses of all sizes, from intimate restaurants to large hotels and contract caterers is in what world can chefs maintain a 2m distance in a busy kitchen during service?

Uncertainty for hospitality industry

According to latest updates The 2m social distancing guideline but this can be reduced to 1metre* in controlled environments . But what does this mean? Many who have already spent time mapping out 2m within their premises and have spent money on signage displaying a 2m distance. There are major differences in readying a space for 2m and readying the same space for 1m. With a little over a week to go until June 29th, businesses nationwide are right now doing the trojan work of figuring out what the recent government guidelines mean for them and applying the necessary changes to their premises while coping with unclear and rapidly changing guidance. While everyone is happy to be opening sooner than August as originally scheduled and hopefully salvaging some of the summer season, the one thing the government’s original 5 phase plan did give was certainty. We’re all aware that COVID-19 and the fight against it are constantly evolving but is it fair to ask individual businesses to bear the brunt of this uncertainty alone?

There needs to be a recognition that these recent government guidelines cost time and money to implement and enforce and businesses need to be given the supports to do so. There needs be further recognition that many venues won’t be able to operate under them; through absolutely no fault of their own. Many high-end restaurants and pubs whose USP is their cosy and intimate atmosphere and reversely, many events venues whose business model is large crowds will have to hold off until the virus is further suppressed.

Long term supports

Again, while an earlier opening date is most definitely a positive news story; more sustainable, long term supports will be needed. Many tangible suggestions have been proposed by the Restaurants Association of Ireland including 0% VAT rate for the tourism & hospitality industries for the period of the crisis & an entire year afterwards, then reverting to a 9% rate for a period of 5 years after along with relief on rates or rent for the rest of the year. It cannot be a case of “now you’re open, you’re on your own.” Everyone has been on the same side of closing to ensure public safety, that cannot swivel to the government and hospitality industry being on opposite sides when it comes to getting the country back running. One of the things that lockdown has shown is the resilience, creativity and desire to succeed of the hospitality industry in adapting to challenges in the market. That in itself is reason to be positive. Best of luck to all our clients and businesses reopening in the coming weeks and congratulations on all your efforts.

 

Restaurant Awards

Ireland’s best restaurant for 2019 revealed

Members of Excel Recruitment’s hospitality team were delighted to attend last night’s 2019 Irish Restaurant Awards in Dublin’s Clayton Hotel. The big winners on the night were of an incredibly high calibre and shining examples of the exceptional standards in the Irish food industry.

Loam in Galway city took the crown as Ireland’s restaurant of the year 2019. The Michelin-starred dining room and wine bar opened in 2014 and differentiates itself with its strong sustainability ethos and by only using ingredients from the West of Ireland. It is owned and run by Enda McEvoy, who was voted best chef in Ireland at the awards in 2016. The best chef 2019 is Graham Neville of Dax Restaurant on Pembroke Street Upper, Dublin. Pub of the year is Doheny and Nesbitt, Baggot Street, with The Old Spot, Bath Avenue, Dublin, taking the gastro pub honours. The best newcomer national winner is Everett’s Restaurant in Waterford,

Run by the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the awards are renowned for the high standards of the entrants and thorough selection process with a public vote, regional judging panels, a mystery guest visit, and a final assessment by the event’s National Awards Academy, comprising food writers, bloggers and culinary academics. This year saw more than 90,000 nominations were made by members of the public.

Congratulations from Excel Recruitment to all the very deserving winners, see the full list of winners below.

 

Best Restaurant

Dublin – Dax Restaurant

Connaught – Loam

Leinster – Eastern Seaboard Bar & Grill

Munster – Wild Honey Inn

Ulster – OX

All Ireland – Loam

Best Chef

Dublin – Graham Neville of Dax Restaurant

Connaught – Barry Ralph of House of Plates

Leinster – Deirdre Adamson of The Fatted Calf

Munster – Peter Everett of Everett’s Restaurant

Ulster – Chris McGowan of Wine and Brine

All Ireland – Graham Neville of Dax Restaurant

Best Restaurant Manager

Dublin – Denise McBrien of The Old Spot

Connaught – Eva Ivanova of Sage

Leinster – Edwina Hynes of La Côte Seafood Restaurant

Munster – John Edward Joyce of The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge

Ulster – Saul McConnell of Noble

All Ireland – Eva Ivanova of Sage

Pub of the Year

Dublin – Doheny and Nesbitt

Connaught – V.J Doherty’s

Leinster – Hamilton’s Pub

Munster – Levis Corner House

Ulster – Coach House & Olde Bar

All -Ireland – Doheny and Nesbitt

Best Hotel and Guesthouse Restaurant

Dublin – The Saddle Room at The Shelbourne Hotel

Connaught – West Restaurant at the Twelve Hotel

Leinster – Brabazon Restaurant at Tankardstown House

Munster – Gregans Castle Hotel

Ulster – Newforge House

All Ireland – Gregans Castle Hotel

Best Newcomer

Dublin – Uno Mas

Connaught – Passione by the Slice

Leinster – Lily’s On Church Street

Munster – Everett’s

Ulster – Hara

All Ireland – Everett’s

Best Gastro Pub

Dublin – The Old Spot

Connaught – Bar One

Leinster – The Ballymore Inn

Munster – Mikey Ryan’s Bar and Kitchen

Ulster – Clenaghans

All Ireland – The Old Spot

Best Customer Service

Dublin – Luna

Connaught – Park House Hotel

Leinster – Lennons @ Visual

Munster – Ballyvolane House

Ulster – The Muddlers Club

All Ireland – The Muddlers Club

Best Casual Dining

Dublin – 777

Connaught – Hooked Sligo

Leinster – Truffles Restaurant and Wine Bar

Munster – Bodega

Ulster – The Olde Glen Bar, Restaurant and Tea Room

All -Ireland – 777

Best Wine Experience

Dublin – Green Man Wines

Connaught – Le Petit Pois

Leinster – Barrows Keep

Munster – The Black Pig

Ulster – OX

All Ireland – Green Man Wines

Best Kids Size Me

Dublin – Old Street Restaurant

Connaught – Shells Seaside Bakery and Café

Leinster – Tiffin by Sunil

Munster – No. 9 Café

Ulster – Oak Room Restaurant

All Ireland – Old Street Restaurant

Best World Cuisine

Dublin – 3 Leaves

Connaught – Spice India

Leinster – Pink Salt Indian Restaurant

Munster – Iyer’s

Ulster – Tuk Tuk Asian Bistro

All Ireland – 3 Leaves

Best Café

Dublin – Two Pups

Connaught – Connemara Greenway Café & Restaurant

Leinster – Knockdrinna Farm Shop & Artisan Café

Munster – Good Day Deli

Ulster – Dinkin’s Home Bakery & Café

All Ireland – Connemara Greenway Café & Restaurant

Best Free From

Dublin – Urbanity

Connaught – Drumanilra Farm Kitchen

Leinster – Zucchini’s Restaurant

Munster – Grow HQ

Ulster – The Olde Post Inn

All Ireland – Grow HQ

Local Food Hero

All -Ireland – Seán Hussey of Hussey & Sons Fruit & Veg

Dublin – Seán Hussey of Hussey & Sons Fruit & Veg

Best Emerging Irish Cuisine

Dublin – Forest & Marcy

Connaught – An Port Mór Restaurant

Leinster – Thyme Restaurant

Munster – No. 35 Restaurant

Ulster – Wine and Brine

All Ireland – No. 35 Restaurant

Best Digital Marketing

All -Ireland – Michael’s Mount Merrion

Best Cookery School

All -Ireland – The Neven Maguire Cookery School

Best Private Dining and Club Restaurant

All -Ireland – Stephens Green Hibernian Club

Best Seafood Experience

All-Ireland – Fish Shop, Benburb Street

Best Cocktail Experience

All -Ireland – The Tack Room at Adare Manor

Shane Mclave General Manager

Shane McLave on Budget 19: VAT increase for hospitality industry ‘reckless’

The Restaurant’s Association of Ireland has called the Budget ‘thoughtless’, a sentiment that will be shared with many in the hospitality industry this week as they begin to do the sums on how the VAT increase to 13.5% will affect their business.

I, and Excel Recruitment, have always supported the campaign to KeepVatat9 and while expected, feel Tuesday ’s decision by the government was absolutely the wrong one. The Minister for Finance showed not only a lack of understanding on the difficulties faced by the industry- particularly rural and border area businesses but also complete disregard of the importance a buoyant tourism industry to the wider economy.

Budget 2019 was most certainly an election budget. While social housing and healthcare are hugely important and deserve as much funding as possible where these increases have come from have not been thought through- or fairly distributed, with employers being forced to pick up the bill. It’s not a case of business in general being hit. Most companies, including some of the country’s most profitable were unaffected by the Budget while landlords with hundreds, often thousands, of properties and few employees escaped any tax hikes at all.

‘These are the businesses that need to be protected- not placed under further pressure’

In contrast, small and medium businesses such as family-owned pubs, cafés and restaurants are going to take a big hit over the next year. These are actually the businesses that need to be protected- not placed under further pressure. Many are located in rural areas and are vital to employment and life in their local areas.

These businesses were also hit with the news that minimum wage will be increased to €9.80. It’s great that workers on minimum wage will receive an increase but on the flipside, employers are now facing an increase in VAT, an increase in minimum wage and increased employer’s PRSI. To add to the pain, both increase come into effect in January, typically the sector’s quietest month.

While the industry is far healthier than it was when the 9% rate was introduced, it still faces many challenges particularly with Brexit looming and still no idea of what the implications will be on our sector. The tourism industry has already weathered the storm of the recession and is one of our most important indigenous industry- supporting economies and creating jobs across the country. This decision is irresponsible and recklessly endangers one of the country’s biggest employers.

East meets West: Solving the Chef Crisis

Many people within the hospitality industry lament the lack of chefs in Ireland, with everyone having their own opinions and perceptions on the reason behind the low, and falling, number of chefs working in Ireland.

I myself have spoken and written about the issue many times, but as the problem reaches epidemic levels- who is actually doing anything constructive in order to try and resolve the issues?

As a proud and active member of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, I was delighted to get the call from Adrian Cummins to assist them with their latest recruitment drive. I have travelled to Korea to attend the World Job+ Recruitment Fair at the Seoul International Travel Mart 2018 (SITM) to meet and interview prospective Chefs who are interested in coming to Ireland on the new Chef Work Permit scheme, announced earlier this year. The new regulations came into effect in March this year, removing some chef grades from the ineligible occupations list and making it easier to recruit chefs from outside the EU. The is an overall quota of 610 employment permits available.

Even though it’s been a few years since I was last in my whites on a full-time basis, the Chef inside me was really excited to come to this corner of Asia. As my only previous experience of Korean cuisine came from eating on Dublin’s Parnell Street, I was excited by the prospect of trying as much of the local cuisine as possible and I have to say I was not disappointed in the slightest. The bustling but pristine streets are filled with the amazing aromas coming from street food stalls, fresh produce on display and live prawns and octopus in the tanks, a stark contrast to the mammoth New York-style skyscrapers y towering above and the familiar four and five star hotel chains that you would expect to see in Paris, London or Dublin.

And what of the Chefs?

Koreans by their nature are extremely hard working, knowledgeable, diligent and creative and this really comes across when you talk to the chefs. They are connected with food and take great pride in the skills that they gain in Culinary College and their careers, most of the Chefs have a good level of English and the main reason for wanting to come to Ireland seems to be to further that knowledge. I have met with a considerable amount of Chefs and there is great interest amongst them in coming to Ireland. Although the initial permit will be for two years, most of them are already planning to extend this further as even though there are countless restaurants in Seoul it can be difficult gaining employment opportunities and advancement in a city with over 10 million people.

If you are struggling to hire Chefs or retain them for long periods and want to find out about how Excel Recruitment can help you through the work permit process please do not hesitate to contact me for more details.

Dublin restaurant Etto takes top spot at Irish Restaurant awards

Dublin’s Etto has been crowned Ireland’s Restaurant of the Year 2018.

The winning restaurant, located on Merrion Row, has taken home the award for Best Casual Dining Experience for the past four years. The restaurant also took home Best Customer Service award while head chef Barry Sun Jian took home the award for Best Chef in Dublin at the awards run by the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) earlier this week. Etto was opened in 2013 by Simon Barrett and Liz Matthews. Announcing the award, the RAI said: “Etto offers a daily changing, seasonal menu, served in a relaxed and informal environment and describe its dishes as honest and simple, using ingredients from local producers and suppliers where possible.” The prestigious award for All Ireland Best Chef went to Jess Murphy, head chef and co-owner of Kai Café Restaurant in Galway. Kai was also singled out for Best Digital Marketing.

The awards are now in their 10th year, received more than 90,000 online nominations were received for Irish restaurants and other hospitality businesses. Along with the public vote and votes from industry experts, winners were decided by judging panel assessment at regional level and by mystery inspections at National level. More than 1,000 restaurateurs, chefs and industry figures attended the All Ireland finals of the awards in Dublin on Monday night. A team of chefs, including several previous winners of the Best Chef title, cooked a six-course dinner for the finale at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road. The kitchen team included well known chefs included Gary O’Hanlon, of ‘The Restaurant’ fame and Danni Barry, whose restaurant, Clenaghans, took the Best Newcomer national title. Bistro in Waterford, and Elena Martinez of Crover House Hotel.

Liam Edwards, president of the RAI, said: “As an industry, the restaurateurs, pub-owners and entrepreneurs of Ireland continue to defy the odds. You strive to create jobs, expand upon Ireland’s understanding of food standards and world cuisine, all while maintaining exemplary customer service. Your support of Irish produce has never been greater and for this you should be wholeheartedly applauded.”

NATIONAL AND ALL IRELAND WINNERS

Best Gastro Pub:

Dublin – The Legal Eagle

Connaught – Cronin’s Sheebeen

Leinster – Lennons Gastro Pub

Munster – Moorings

Ulster – The Brewer’s House

All-Ireland – The Legal Eagle

Best Hotel & Guesthouse Restaurant:

Dublin – The Marker Hotel

Connaught – Wilde’s at The Lodge

Leinster – Ballyfin Demesne

Munster – Park Hotel Kenmare

Ulster – Newforge House

All-Ireland – Park Hotel Kenmare

Best Newcomer winners:

Dublin – Michael’s Mount Merrion

Connaught – Hooked

Leinster – Barrows Keep

Munster – Dooks Fine Foods Fethard

Ulster – Clenaghans

All-Ireland – Clenaghans

Best Cafe winners:

Dublin – Honey Truffle

Connaught – Pudding Row

Leinster – Strandfield Café

Munster – Maison Gourmet

Ulster – The Jolly Sandwich Bar

All-Ireland – Pudding Row

Best Wine Experience winners:

Dublin – Piglet Wine Bar

Connaught – Aniar Restaurant and Boutique Cookery School

Leinster – La Touche Wines 4 U

Munster – The Black Pig

Ulster – Ox Cave

All-Ireland – Piglet Wine Bar

Best World Cuisine winners:

Dublin – Nightmarket

Connaught – MoMA Restaurant

Leinster – Pink Salt Indian Restaurant

Munster – Palmento

Ulster – Tuk Tuk Asian Bistro

All-Ireland – Nightmarket

Best Kids Size Me winners:

Dublin – Michael’s Mount Merrion

Connaught – Gather Restaurant

Leinster – Platform Pizza Bar

Munster – GROW HQ Café and Food Education Centre

Ulster – Amici

All-Ireland – Michaels Mount Merrion

Best Local Food Hero winners:

Dublin – Jenny & Patrick McNally of McNally Family Farm

All-Ireland – Mark Murphy & Mark Doe of The Apprentice Chef Programme

Best Casual Dining winners:

Dublin – Hey Donna

Connaught – Gather Restaurant

Leinster – Truffles Restaurant & Wine Bar

Munster – Pilgrim’s

Ulster – Shu Restaurant Belfast

All-Ireland – Pilgrim’s

Best Emerging Irish Cuisine winners:

Dublin – Craft Restaurant

Connaught – Tartare Café + Wine Bar

Leinster – Kernel Bar & Kitchen

Munster – Sage Restaurant

Ulster – 28 Darling St

All-Ireland – Craft Restaurant

Best Restaurant Manager winners:

Dublin – Talha Pasha of Michael’s Mount Merrion

Connaught – Lee Hanifa of The Cottage Restaurant

Leinster – Joanne Harding of the Aldridge Lodge

Munster – Sally O’Brien of Farmgate Restaurant and Country Store

Ulster – Saul McConnell of NOBLE. Holywood

All-Ireland – Sally O’Brien of Farmgate Restaurant and Country Store

Best ‘Free From’ winners:

Dublin – I Monelli

Connaught – Sweet Beat Café

Leinster – Zucchini’s Restaurant

Munster – Nutrilicious Food Co

Ulster – The Dirty Duck

All-Ireland – Sweet Beat Café

Best Customer Service winners:

Dublin – Etto

Connaught – House of Plates

Leinster – Roundwood House

Munster – The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge

Ulster – Harvey’s Point

All-Ireland – Harvey’s Point

Pub of the Year winners:

Dublin – Walshs Stoneybatter

Connaught – Flynns Bar

Leinster – Morrisseys

Munster – Murphy’s Bar Brandon

Ulster – Tomneys Bar

All-Ireland – Walshs Stoneybatter

Best Chef winners:

Dublin – Barry Sun Jian of Etto

Connaught – Jess Murphy of Kai Restaurant

Leinster – Sam Moody at Ballyfin Demesne

Munster – Aidan McGrath of Wild Honey Inn

Ulster – Chris McGowan of Wine & Brine

All-Ireland – Jess Murphy of Kai Restaurant

Best Restaurant winners:

Dublin – Etto

Connaught – Cian’s on Bridge Street

Leinster – TwoCooks Restaurant & Wine Bar

Munster – Mews Restaurant

Ulster – The Muddlers Club

All-Ireland – Etto

National winners:

Best Private Dining & Club Restaurant – Locks Windsor Terrace

Best Cocktail Experience – The Sidecar at The Westbury

Best Cookery School – MacNean House & Restaurant

Best Seafood Experience – Klaw Seafood Restaurant

Best Digital Marketing – Kai Restaurant