A 30 Year Food Journey
This story begins back in 1988, when The Strawberry Tree Restaurant first opened its doors in Killarney, Co. Kerry. Back then, the daily menu showcased the importance of Irish Sea Foods, Irish Farm Foods and Irish Wild Foods. Evan Doyle, founder of the Strawberry Tree had a passion for Wild Foods which was instilled in him after many encounters and foraging trips with Gerard M. King from Connemara. It was after these encounters that Doyle found his love of Wild Foods and incorporated this gained knowledge on the Strawberry Tree menu from that point on.
Two other very important Irish Food influencers also played a huge role in shaping Doyle’s love and understanding of the preciousness of Irish Food. It was the valuable guidance from both Myrtle Allen and Gerry Galvin over the last forty years that helped sculpt what The Strawberry Tree Restaurant has become today. Without input from both, this Food Journey would simply not exist. As Evan and the Crew of The Strawberry Tree Brigade go about their everyday, the legacy that these influential people left behind; lives on. Doyle has always referred to these Irish Food leaders as ‘his Food Rock Stars’.
In 1988, The Strawberry Tree was one of the first Restaurants to name the Farmer, the Producer and the Supplier on its menu. It promoted food provenance as the most important offering. The best produce was always from the local supplier. Each menu stated “A menu is only as good as its ingredients and the main ingredient at the Strawberry Tree is its suppliers”. During Doyle’s time in Killarney, the National Park provided the perfect landscape for indulging in Wild Foods. It’s here; the famous Strawberry Tree Wild Garlic Pesto recipe was harvested for and developed.
In 1999, The Strawberry Tree Restaurant moved to Macreddin Village and became an integral part of BrookLodge. Along with his passion for Wild Foods, Evan believed in food with traceability, he believed in sustainability, he believed in good animal husbandry and he believed in naturally grown ingredients with no tolerance for chemicals. He also believed that the guest should be served no less than this. It wasn’t long before The Strawberry Tree Restaurant became the only Irish Restaurant to achieve an EU Organic Licence in 2002. This Organic ethos, also led The Strawberry Tree to be the first Restaurant in Ireland to import Organic Wines directly for its diners to enjoy.
To this day, The Strawberry Tree Restaurant remains true to its roots. The Strawberry Tree Brigade take pride in the relationship they have with the Producers, the Farmers and the Suppliers that deliver great Irish ingredients to the Kitchen Door every day. The first page of the menu in the Restaurant still salutes these wonderful Irish producers, just as it did 30 years ago, The Strawberry Tree uses fresh, in season produce and holds the same important ethos that has made The Strawberry Tree what it is today. Becoming a part of The Strawberry Tree Brigade requires a passion and a respect for real Irish food just like it did in 1988.
This 30 year journey has included many developments along the way. The Wild Foods Pantry has evolved to a walk-in treasure trove within the Restaurant; the Chefs favourite place in Macreddin Village. Home to kilner jars, demi-johns and bottles of preserved Wild Foods to be used on the menu each night or to be preserved for future months.The Brigade celebrates the Harvest each year with the Big Harvest Dinner in September, paying homage once again to the farm. Since opening, the Strawberry Tree has also celebrated the start of the Game Season with its annual Wild Foods Dinner in November.
Not being shy of a challenge, Evan, James and The Strawberry Tree Brigade served the World’s first ZER0KM Dinner in October 2017. This Dinner was served to 100 diners as a 15 course dinner with everything reared, grown and harvested here in Macreddin Village and within less than 1,000 walking paces from the Kitchens.
Take a look at a the calendar of events and developments over the past 30 Years of The Strawberry Tree Restaurant
Over the last 3 decades, The Strawberry Tree Restaurant has become a very unique and important chapter in Ireland with the Irish Food Story. The Strawberry Tree has really taken on a life of its own and after 30 years Evan, James, the Brigade and the Crew fully respect this direction. When a new dish is created, the first question would always be; is this The Strawberry Tree? The original Strawberry Tree sign, hand carved from cedar by Séan-Og Lucey, still stands tall and takes pride of place outside the Restaurant here in Macreddin Village, holding 30 years of history and awaiting 30 more…
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