Grasshoppers and Forage Fed Turkeys at Croke Park Meetings & Events!
Grasshoppers? It’s not as weird as it may appear. In fact there’s even a solid biblical precedent. John the Baptist, apparently, was very fond of them. He was into locusts too. And wild honey. Maybe old John was the prototype hipster? He’s even depicted with a gloriously ragged beard and leather sandles!
But grasshoppers, locusts and other crunchy creepy crawlies are, apparently, highly nutritious and would have kept John the Baptist alive for decades had that dastardly Salome not had designs on his head.
“We did indeed have grasshoppers on the menu at Croke Park” explained Ruairí Boyce, Executive Chef at Croke Park Meetings & Events. “They were a signature item on the menu we designed for The Event of the Future in July. We wanted to challenge ourselves – and, of course, our clients – with approaches, concepts and ingredients for the meetings and events of tomorrow. Like event formats, food, food preparation and food service are changing and evolving. In the past food was a mere hygiene factor in meetings and events, it had to be served as otherwise folks would go hungry. Now food plays an integral part in the success of the entire affair. It adds a tangible, experiential element to the event, bringing people together and generating conversations.”
For The Event of the Future, Ruairí and his team of culinary outlaws went seriously off-piste showcasing some truly novel food presentations like the mini portable barbecues on high top tables replete with razor clams, crab claws and Dublin Bay prawns all smokin’ away.
“This was an ultra-version of our newly launched Stadium Street Food concept. We usually do food stalls and presentations indoors along the stadium concourse walkways but for The Event of the Future we took it down to level 3 and went outside. We set up stations under the concrete canopy of the stadium structure. It was indoor / outdoor and definitely had a “festival” feel to it. We had a massive paella pan, a South American asada and then we threw down mini disposable barbecues on the cocktail tables and when folks came in, it was a full sensory assault!” said Ruairí.
The Stadium Street Menu is right on point, echoing all the latest trends in food service. “It’s really important to us at Croke Park Meetings & Events that we’re not just following trends but leading them”, Ruairí continued. “We’ve been serving Burritos here for quite some time – and just look now at the Burrito “epidemic” all over Dublin! Our clients, the participants at meetings and events here, are increasingly younger and exceptionally well-travelled. They’ve done gap years in Australia, spent summers in Central America, done the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. When we offer Stadium Street Food, they actually “get” the reference. They’ve been there!”
Lest it be assumed that more traditional tastes are not catered for under this new trendy regime, Ruairí is quick to point out: “We still do the traditional in the traditional way. There’s a tendency these days to “deconstruct” traditional dishes and we’ve all seen examples of chefs “re-imagining” staple favourites like Prawn Cockail with Marie Rose Sauce, for example. That’s all fine and we do that too but there’s a gastronomic nostalgia in play too, a longing for the tried, tested and trusted dishes of the past.”
“Our Christmas menu, for example” says Ruairí “is a no-nonsense combination of Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Soup and traditional Turkey and Ham. We take some liberty with dessert serving a light “cheese cake” but it is Christmas pudding flavour. This Christmas menu is all about provenance – finding and serving the absolute best produce. After my recent visit to Eoin Sharkey and his naturally forage fed, pasture reared bronze turkeys at Maperath Farm in Kells, County Meath, I’m beyond confident that these are simply the best of the best!”
So how did the grasshoppers go down at The Event of the Future? “Er … they didn’t” said an embarrassed Ruairí. “They got stuck at customs and I only got them out 2 days after the event”.
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