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Foodies Fight Back with Lucinda

Foodies Fight Back with Lucinda

Wednesday 05 August 2020

The Fish Box
In Dingle, the Flannery family are synonymous with seafood, with dad Michael having been a fisherman since 1975. In recent years, sons Michael and Patrick stepped up to the plate with The Fish Box - Flannery's Seafood Bar, where mum Deirdre is head chef, and sister Eimear also works, and it's been a huge hit among locals and tourists alike, whether they're dining in or taking the fab fresh seafood takeout boxes down to the water's edge.
Michael told me how they've been affected by the pandemic. "When we first learned of the Covid-19 outbreak, we closed our doors for two weeks. We analysed the situation, made a plan of the best safe practices, and decided to reopen on weekends initially, providing a takeaway service. We also have our own fishing trawler whose market completely collapsed. We only had one option - try to sell the fish through the restaurant."
Michael is quick to credit the local community. "Dingle is an amazing town, full of amazingly supportive people, and we are currently open seven days a week from 12.30pm-9pm." The Flannerys are continuing to be proactive, planning for the new normal. "Our industry has changed, but when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. We've created a brand-new mobile app in conjunction with Flipdish, offering our customers a safe, easy way of ordering, and keeping up with our latest dishes. Also, we wrote The Fish E-Book, which is completely free from our website."

The Producer
Four generations of bakers have made Hickey's Bakery, in the shadow of the West Gate in Clonmel, what it is today. The current incumbent and local entrepreneur, Nuala Hickey, has been in the business for over 20 years, and, judging by the number of awards the bakery has garnered during her tenure, and my own experience, she's doing a fantastic job.
Their all-year-round rich, fruity barm brack is such a legend, it even had the Queen of Cakes, Mary Berry, come to Clonmel to investigate, which will be shown on the BBC later this year.
"When Covid hit, I knew immediately my business was going to change. However, those changes resulted in me going right back to the beginning in the most wonderful way. Even though I had to close the cafe, I was able to keep the bread counter open, which allowed us the time to connect again with our customers."
Hickey's Bakery has survived two world wars, and now this pandemic, Nuala says, and kept true to its values of quality and service. "Our locals have kept me busy wrapping barm bracks to send to their families abroad. They evoke memories, a sense of comfort, and a real taste of home. The bakery has never been busier and I've added a new local artisan corner supporting my friends in the Tipperary Food Producers group."
Change, Nuala says, has allowed her appreciate generations of hard work, a tradition she is determined to continue.

The Restaurant
Derry and Sallyanne Clarke are probably the best-known duo in the Irish restaurant industry. Since 1989, their Michelin-starred L'Ecrivain has entertained the creme de la creme of high society in corporate, celebrity and society terms. They've been through recessions and personal tragedy, but, when it comes to their business, they've never flinched. They are the ultimate professionals. Earlier this year, they announced they were closing L'Ecrivain to pursue another venture but they are now staying open until December and say they are delighted to be back after a 13-week closure.
"Derry is not just a chef," says Sallyanne. "He power-hosed inside and out, painted and became a furniture mover. Our capacity has been modified from 120 to 52, with sharing tables on the terrace replaced with five tables for two. We ordered visors with our logo so as not to look like Darth Vader, and painted 'white feet' in the courtyard making sure there is no queue in our reception area."

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First Published In The Sunday Independent