Aprons on, sleeves rolled up... for 420 diners

This weekend sees the return of sell-out event Cork’s Long Table Dinner. KATE RYAN talks to those preparing to serve 420 diners
Aprons on, sleeves rolled up... for 420 diners
BE OUR GUEST: Cork’s Long Table returns as part of Cork Midsummer Festival 2018. Picture: Joleen Cronin

BOOSTED by the success of 2017s Long Table, where the sun shone on 400 diners along the regal South Mall, this year expectations are high to match and go beyond the glory of last year.

Ten of Cork’s finest independent restaurants and cafés have joined forces to deliver a crowd- pleasing tasting menu on June 24: a series of epicurean love letters to Cork’s wonderful producers from all corners of the People’s Republic from the talented chefs that pay homage to it at their eateries every single day.

A total of 420 diners will have the pleasure of experiencing our region’s passion for food, from farm to fork.

I spoke with those involved with Cork’s Long Table Dinner, and asked them why they are inspired to take part in the event this year.

Claire Nash, Nash 19

“I really believe that Cork is a collaborative city: Cork Council, community groups, Bord Bia, Fáilte Ireland and our eateries have all come together to make Cork’s Long Table Dinner a reality. It becomes a community experience: diners are not just my customers, but all our customers, and it raises the bar for the culinary experience people can expect to have in Cork. We all bring our friendship, professionalism and skills to the table to create a fine dining experience like no other.

“We can’t all be experts in everything, but together we transform South Mall.

“Last year we nailed it, so the pressure is on to grow with the event — that Cork’s Long Table Dinner isn’t a one-hit wonder!

“Everything about it is inclusive and positive, and brings all involved huge joy. Collaboration works and that makes Cork work.”

Kate Lawlor, The Oyster Tavern

“We are thrilled to be taking part in this year’s Long Table Dinner. It’s a celebration of Cork’s food scene, its people and its food culture. My passion for Cork and its produce has been well documented over the years and after the success of last year I was only delighted to get on board again.

“Last August, The Oyster Tavern saw a Cork institution reopen its doors; we have developed a great relationship with stall holders in the English Market and created dishes linking the Oyster to the Market and celebrating Cork’s finest. We are counting down the days and wishful of a sunny Sunday for Cork’s Long Table as part of Cork Midsummer Festival.”

Ruth Feely, Farmgate Café

“We are very excited to be back for the third year of the Long Table Dinner — each year we’ve seen it go from strength to strength. Not only is it enormous fun, both for us and the diners alike, it is also such an exhilarating day working alongside our esteemed colleagues in the Cork food scene, celebrating Cork’s unique spirit of meitheal, good food and culture.

“It’s a fabulous opportunity to showcase what’s best about Cork, the food capital of Ireland. How could we not want be a part of that?!!

“We are making all the soda bread for the event using lovely Macroom oatmeal, and preparing gin-cured wild salmon using gin from Black’s Distillers in Kinsale.

“Once we have our specific jobs done, it’s all hands on deck to help cook, serve or do whatever else is needed. It’s a case of aprons on, sleeves rolled up and get going!”

Frits Poteiger, Imperial Hotel

“We’re involved because it’s fun! It allows The Imperial to collaborate with a host of restaurateurs and chefs who are as passionate about Cork and its wonderful produce as we are. We love the sense of community it reflects, the opportunity to showcase our chef’s talents and most of all the chance to give something back to the people of Cork who have supported The Imperial for over 200 years.

“We are tasked with producing one of the main course’s key elements but the process is very collaborative, all the restaurants involved will form an integral piece in the puzzle to ensure that, on the day, we deliver something truly special.

“Our Executive Chef, Jerome, and his brigade are incredibly excited to play a part in such a wonderful event in our city.”

Cork’s Long Table celebrates the spirit unique to Cork – an essential experience for lovers of food and culture. Picture: Joleen Cronin
Cork’s Long Table celebrates the spirit unique to Cork – an essential experience for lovers of food and culture. Picture: Joleen Cronin

Trisha Lewis, Jacobs on the Mall

“I’ve been Head Chef in Jacobs on the Mall for ten years now and I am so happy to be a part of Cork’s Long Table Dinner: ten restaurants coming together brimming with talent and leaving all egos at the door and working as a huge team representing Cork food, our local producers and our excellent produce.

“We will be involved in making desserts and the vegetarian dishes, which will focus on using the cheese from Toons Bridge Dairy on the day.

“It’s with great pride that the event is on outside our door on the beautiful South Mall. We are so happy to draw focus to the amazing food we have on our doorstep and really show off what the capital of the south can do!

“Working together as a huge team is great fun and a great opportunity to work with restaurateurs that you normally would never work with, to get to know them properly and bash out ideas!”

Sarah O’Driscoll, Crawford & Company (opening soon)

“I am delighted to be part of The Long Table this year. For me, last year’s event created a community of hard working, dedicated, enthusiastic, fun-loving and passionate people. We all have the same goal — to re-build Cork’s reputation as the food capital of Ireland, showcasing our excellent producers and staff in the unique setting of the South Mall.

“I have spent the past year building on these new friendships and I can’t wait to work with the crew from Electric again on June 24.

“I have partnered with two others to renovate The Market Tavern and The Hub on Copely Street, aiming to open at August bank holiday. It’ll be a neighbourhood pub with a nod to the traditional old pubs that had a grocers or post office in them too.

“We have a lot of work to do and won’t be open in time for The Long Table but I hope we’ll be part of it next year.”

Beth Haughton, Docklands

“Instead of working in competition with each other, we’re working as a team to create the Long Table Dinner. We all get on really well, have lots of fun, and have created a community around the event. We don’t do it to make ourselves look better, it’s about being in something together and serving wonderful food in a great location.

“We want all people that dine in Cork to know that we have exceptional quality of food — that wherever people choose to eat, the food will be great!”

Victor Murphy, House Café at the Cork Opera House

“We’ve been involved since 2016 and we always find it a positive collaborative experience; I find it energising to work with others and Cork is an amazing place to be able to do this: we have powerful leaders and great teamwork all pulling together.

“Our front of house team really look forward to the day, it takes them out of the ordinary and be part of a bigger team for just one day.

“Cork is rising! The visual impact of the event is striking: closing down the road on South Mall so we can create something unique and beautiful to look at. Internationally, it is an event that can stand alone and showcase the very best of Cork.”

Ernest Cantillon, Electric

“I love that the event is right on our doorstep! Our working days can be repetitive enough, so it’s a chance for our whole team to get involved in the project — I see the satisfaction of working alongside other restaurants and the community that it is building, a network that we can all tap into if we need some help, a bit of advice or information.

“We’ll be serving up a refreshing glass of Kinsale Gin with some Oysters — with 420 diners I guess I’ll be shucking oysters for hours, but it’ll be worth it!”

Canice Sharkey, Isaac’s

“The tickets sold out so quickly this year — three minutes and they were all gone! Cork’s Long Table Dinner is going from strength to strength, but every year we still work hard to keep it different.

“It’s important to remember that we’re doing all of this for free! We pay all our staff, but everything else is donated by all the restaurants involved.

“We do it because it’s one amazing opportunity to show off what Cork can do. We transform South Mall for a few incredible hours, and by 9pm everything has been cleared away and put back again the way it was.”

Ali Honour, Ali’s Kitchen

Ali will be bringing her signature flair for food with global influence to this year’s Long Table Dinner as she puts a modern twist on culinary classics and shares her pure love of food with people to make them smile!


Missed out on a ticket, like everyone else except the lucky 420?

Well, there’s good news for you! Meet the people behind Cork’s Long Table Dinner with a new food trail, ‘Walk the Long Table’.

As part of the Cork Midsummer Festival, tomorrow, Wednesday, June 20 and Friday, June 22 from 3pm to 5pm experience the Long Table in the form of a food trail guided by the ten participating restaurateurs.

Explore behind the scenes in their premises in Cork city and sample some of the wonderful seasonal local produce from the menu of Cork’s Long Table 2018.

The trail invites food lovers to meet the talented chefs and restaurateurs who collaborate on Cork’s Long Table. Meet the faces of Ali’s Kitchen, Dockland, House Café at Cork Opera House, Electric, The Farmgate Café, The Imperial Hotel, Isaac’s Restaurant, Jacob’s On The Mall, Nash 19, and The Oyster Tavern; learn about local midsummer produce they use in their dishes; and taste some of Cork’s finest food.

Tickets (€65pp) are on sale now from www.corkmidsummer.com

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