Author Archives: Martin Lynch

Food For Thought & Down To Business

Martin Lynch Donegal food coast

As part of Enterprising Donegal Business week 2015 I had the great fortune of presenting & hosting an evening of food business in Donegal at the Village Tavern in Mount Charles.

The title for the evening’s presentation was “Food For Thought” & the theme of the evening was an “Insight into the business opportunities in the food sector and the expectations required to demonstrate commitment to good food

We decided upon having the event in an actual food business as we wanted to be at the heart of food; the dinning room in the Village Tavern was perfect for this. On a Tuesday evening in March it was great to see so many people turn out for the evening.

The key topics we spoke about – Getting it right first time & how important first impressions are for your customer – be it food service or food product! How do you measure this? Is it the meet & greet? Commitment to getting the small thing rights…. If you can deliver on a great bowl of soup, fresh tasting bread, finish with a great coffee & clean toilets. Very simple measurements. Not the most glamorous, for me this if the real bench mark of creating a first & lasting impression, Get the customer, keep the customer!

The business of food – no matter how sexy food is, if you’re not making money you are wasting your time. Know your food costs, set your margins, and work on a realistic gross profit. Be good to your suppliers, they need to make a buck to. Talk to your chefs. A chef’s knowledge can be the key to optimizing food costs. It’s important to make the finances work!  Nose to tail cooking isn’t just about origins of food – in the hands of a skilled chef, its profit.

Trends, Gaps & Opportunities – being a foodie in Ireland is a trend that is on the up & is great customer base for food companies to focus on. It also represents a chance for start up food companies to get into business. So could Donegal make cured meats using our local Dexter’s or pork – we have a great local supply. More things can be done locally “may be a bit mad, but good to mad sometimes in food”.   Coffee roasting, if some one can roast coffee in Scotland, why cant some one roast coffee in Donegal? Chefs table….opportunity to offer experience & make customers feel special while up selling too.  Comfort food opportunity…..Grilled Cheese truck shops in London to do comfort with a New York twist.

Commitment to good food – is about food safety. Food safety is important. Protects your business, protects your customer!

Kevin Pykes from “Pykes & Pommes Street Food ” & Enda O Rourke From ” Village Tavern” gave us an insight into their food business & will feature in the next blog post on the second part of Food For Thought.

Martin Lynch Local & foraged food Donegal & NI










Down To Business With Bobby Kerr on Newstalk Radio

I was delighted to appear on Newstalk “Down to Business” presented by Bobby Kerr. The programme was broadcast from Donegal & Featured over a dozen local businesses. It was a very positive event & great national exposure for a county bursting with small & medium size companies.

Listen back below as I discuss with Bobby Kerr how I work with companies & my views on food, tourism & the bottom line.

Martin Lynch on Newstalk Down to business with Bobby Kerr & Harveys Point


Fundamentals of a restaurant business



I was fortunate enough to attend the press launch of a local enterprise week. The event was hosted by Donegal County Enterprise Board. This was nothing out of the ordinary – a Skype link & few words by Kevin Kelly (a key note speaker & doer!) & that’s when the ordinary became the extra ordinary. Kevin Kelly revealed a great information nugget, quite simply “Analysis your Idea, what matters isn’t what you lack, what matters isn’t your idea. What matters is what you do. What will you do?” But all business starts with an idea. So in the restaurant business how much “Anaylsising of your/their idea” do restaurateurs’ carry out?

The two key fundamentals to a restaurant business are the Food & Service. How do you apply the “Anaylsising” theory to these fundamentals.



What area does your food occupy?

Does passion cloud your food businesses judgement?

How much does business apply in your business?

Expertise or aspirations on your menu?

Food cost, what are my food costs?


Service its as great as our food

Only the Americans do service!

Its not as important as the food, really, honestly?

We smile at our customers

Our customers – make our business

The above points – true or false off a Restaurant Business that you know? 



French Alps Foraging

5 #Legenderry Eats in the City of Culture 2013

Peace bridge Derry Martin Lynch Hospitality Solutions blog









When growing up in Derry in the 1970’s & 1980’s gastronomic delights where few & far between. Beyond ”la cuisine de ma mere”  stand out dining experiences normally revolved around a take away or dining in portion of chips, peas & gravy with a dash of malt vinegar from “ Swanky Frankie’s” (Frankie Ramsey’s café in William Street – since renamed as Café Grianan)

City of Culture 2013 Derry  presents a great opportunity for food, tourism & hospitality businesses in both Derry/Londonderry & Donegal to show case their products & business. I know we are entering the second quarter of 2013, but the City of Culture is starting to take on that holiday feeling & the official start of summer time is all contributing.

In no particular order I have listed below 5 places popular for coffee, lunch or Dinner. You will find their contact details on the web or via Twitter. This is not an exhaustive list & there are many more eateries serving great food & good coffee

  1. Beech hill House Hotel – long before all the accolades, eating out & foodies Patsy & her team where serving outstanding local food. Leading the way & continue to do so. Barry heads up the kitchen team creating great country house food with a modern twist. The hotel is set in its own beautiful gardens & Woodland. This season a polytunnel  has been added to the  renovated walled gardens – a real treat for foodies. @BeechHillDerry
  2. Browns Restaurant & Champagne Lounge – Headed up by Ian Orr, fresh from his appearance on the Great British Menu. Head Chef Ian & his team continue to serve fresh seasonal produce and support of local suppliers. If you fancy a main course lunch of Greencastle fish of the day with smoked celeriac milk puree, lettuce, cauliflower beignet then this is the place for you! @ian034
  3. The Exchange Restaurant & Wine bar – bang in the heart of the city located at the city side of the peace bridge. Mark Caithness (the man who gave me my first break in professional kitchen in 1986) & team have been producing great value food in Derry in various locations for over 2 decades now. Worth checking out for lunch
  4. Fiorentinis Café – set in the Strand Road. Been in business for as long as I can remember & longer. Great for Ice cream & real Chips! A must for family treats
  5. Warehouse No1 – the new kid on the block. Opened in December 2012 & next to the Guildhall. Donal & his team serving up great coffee, in house pastries & treats & sour dough sandwiches & other dishes. Great for a coffee & catch up with city life! @Warehouse2013

For some street food keep your eyes peeled for @kevinPyke Pyke & Pommes street food


If you’re planning in visiting the city or just looking for a cultural over of Derry/Londonderry here’s a great video guide from Michael Bradley – bassist from the Legendry Undertones & now a radio producer for BBC Radio Foyle.  By the way my claim to fame with the Undertones was the lead singer Feargal Sharkey, he was our cub leader in the scouts!

The Next Big Thing

hospitality solutions feature hotel industry





“What’s the next big thing in food Martin? I thought – should I buy a restaurant & be ready for it!”

I’m probably like the local business advisor whom posed this question & then suggested he’d be ready for it. The hospitality business is made up of business owners who devote time to pondering, researching or trying to be at the fore front of the next big thing. Hospitality, catering, tourism, food it’s their business to know this.

What does the future hold for UK hoteliers, restaurateurs, caterers and publicans in 2013?

Caterer & Hotel Keeper 





What does the future hold for UK  hoteliers, restaurateurs, caterers and publicans in 2013? This 10 minute podcast rounds up what UK industry figures expect 2013 to bring to the Hospitality sector. Via website


Back To Basics


I have been carrying out some research for a client based in the hospitality & tourism business. The body of research is based around new dinning trends & customer/consumer habits. Here’s a quote that I came across “I am looking for products and brands that are real, authentic and honest, because I know I can trust what’s in them and where they come from”. Catering for taste, or giving the customer what they want. I don’t believe this statement is a trend, if you run a pub hotel, restaurant, café then surely this should form the core of the kitchen or menu

Wild Mushroom Pickings in Ireland (Part 1)

The mushroom season is drawing to a close for me. I live in Donegal, North West Ireland – once November is upon me the foraging bounties turn into great walks & rambles through forests with very little wild mushrooms in my basket. The drop in temperature appears to put pay to the mushroom bounty.

I have been collecting/hunting/foraging wild mushrooms since 1989 – my first foray was in the West Country, England. Up a hillside & down a valley near the beautiful Bradford on Avon & not far from Combe Grove – cut Cotswold stone buildings & pristine rolling English countryside. Beautiful middle England! On that first trip we collected shaggy ink caps. The chief identifier of wild mushrooms that day is now my wife! (Isabelle a French lady from the Haute Savoie region of France). Our mushroom forage yielded enough for a meal of mushrooms on toast.

I started cooking with wild mushrooms in professional kitchens whilst working with Gary Rhodes & latterly Paul Flynn (Nico Ladenis). In these 1 & 2 Michelin starred restaurants we used wild mushrooms fresh, dried & frozen. Our suppliers sourced from Scotland, England & France.  Dried Girolles partnered with garlic & sherry to make a fabulous cream & jus based sauce to serve with rack of lamb. Fresh Girolles served with lobster, spinach & homemade linguine. Fresh pied de mouton with roast guinea fowl. Frozen French ceps trimmed, diced, sauté served on top of lobster ravioli with a decadent truffle beurre blanc.


I don’t profess to be a wild mushroom expert. The Latin or scientific termonogly used to identify wild mushrooms is an area I don’t “hang out in”. I leave this to the well read & specialist knowledgeable fungi people out there (whom I have enormous admiration & respect for)

In the next edition of this blog I want to talk you through a combination of seasons & a year of wild mushroom picking in Ireland (Wicklow & Donegal). I will leave you with these

  • I pick mushrooms on public land & private land (ask permission – its good manners, keep people on side).
  •  I pick mushrooms on managed woodlands & native forest, a mixture of both broadleaf & pine forest. I haven’t had much success in open fields & meadows – not since county Wicklow
  • You can find mushrooms growing pretty much any where – whilst living in London we used to go foraging for ceps, shaggy ink caps & pied blue in Richmond Park
  • I don’t forage near foot paths or trails – i.e. where my canine friends like to mark
  • Be careful where you forage & respectful of the local environment
  • Don’t be greedy only forage what you can use or preserve
  • Don’t forage wild mushrooms – unless you have an expert whom can identify what eats well or what mushrooms can lead to renal failure & potential mortality
  • Purchase a good guide book to assist in the identification of mushrooms & toadstools
  • Jane Grigsons book “ The Mushroom Feast” – illustrations, recipes & prose


*This information above is for illustrative & informative purposes – its upto you as how you might use this information.

Food For All Seasons

hospitality solutions feature hotel industry





The Seasonality of food Here s a Quote from Michael O’Leary “At the moment the ice is free, but if we could find a way of targeting a price on it, we would” Most of us are familiar with the business model that he operates. Low cost, basically translating to very good value, if you travel at certain times. For me this involves knowing when to travel, avoiding the busy seasons & planning ahead.



What to do with rising food costs

hospitality solutions feature hotel industry 



Published by via Hi! Voice.

Menu planning and the importance of the menu is an essential tool in creating the power to bring customers in though your front door. The menu is a highly important factor not only because of its content but also in the way it is set out. The way dishes are displayed and its use to maximize profit. When creating the menu…continue reading