Throughout the pandemic, those in the hospitality trade have had to come up with alternative ways to share their creations with the public.
With restaurants closed for large parts of 2020, and looking likely to remain shut for some time to come, the challenges faced by Dublin's chefs have been stark. For so long, they have been at the centre of the Dublin social scene but in a world where everyone is locked down in their homes, they are largely robbed of their main outlet for showcasing their talents.
Since last March, many chefs have had to pivot in order to adapt to coronavirus restrictions and one of those is Colin Brogan, who works at Spitalfields in Dublin 8.
Like countless others in the industry, the pandemic's impact on Colin's livelihood cannot be understated. Faced with a prolonged spell out of work, he decided to try something new that would help fill up his own time during those long days out of the restaurant, as well as allows Dubliners to taste his high-quality culinary creations home.
The result was CQD, a service that provides a wide range of dishes straight from Colin's kitchen, and during a chat with Lovin Dublin, the Castleknock man said: "I decided to start CQ Dining to keep myself busy at first, as it wasn't clear when restaurants could resume as normal.The desire for good food in Dublin has always been there and this won't disappear because of lockdown."
Colin delivers to residents of Clancy Quay in Dublin and aims to provide a wide range of dishes to cater for different tastes and different times of the year. "I try to make my menu appealing to lots of people," he says. "It's a mix of well-loved Irish classics but I also like the idea of introducing people to new flavours that they may not have experienced before. I base the menu around what is in season, the quality of the ingredients speak for themselves. Each week, the menu offers four courses plus bread and petit fours."
The response has been very positive so far, as Colin explains: "The customers really enjoy reading the menu and plating the food. It's the best feeling when a customer tells me how much they enjoyed the meal. I've also provided food for a couple of small weddings. This is really special, as it is already a hard time for any couple to plan and arrange, so I'm glad I can contribute in some small way."
While Colin has been able to branch out into something new, he is under no illusions as to hard it will be for the hospitality trade to get back on its feet. With the Government looking likely to extend Level 5 restrictions until Easter at least, Colin hopes that the industry will be provided with clarity sooner rather than later. "The hospitality industry in general has faced a really difficult year, as did many other sectors," he says. "It won't be an easy road to get back to normal. If people remain working from home, this will greatly impact regular business for many places, without the lunch time regulars. I think we will have to be ready to adapt to whatever happens. It is important that we start to get the same level of support and clarity from the Government, as they have been offering to other sectors."
Tough times indeed for the hospitality trade and Colin's endeavours show the importance of adapting, for those who are able to. As he said, it will be a tough road but Dublin needs its hospitality trade and Dubliners need good food and the whole restaurant experience.
In the meantime, if you're a Clancy Quay resident, you can check out CQD on Instagram here. Food is also available for collection for those within the 5km limit. The boxes are available from Thursday to Saturday, with pickup or drop off between 4pm and 7pm.