Chef Tony Carty: ‘You still have to keep up the fight’

For chef Tony Carty and his wife, photographer Paula Malone Carty, shopping and eating local is high on the menu when it comes to factoring in sustainability for their busy family of six,

Chef Tony Carty: ‘You still have to keep up the fight’

For chef Tony Carty and his wife, photographer Paula Malone Carty, shopping and eating local is high on the menu when it comes to factoring in sustainability for their busy family of six, writes Ellie O’Byrne

Tony Carty and his wife, Paula Malone Carty, have four children and live in Wexford town.

Tony is the executive chef at Ferrycarrig Hotel, where he focuses on sourcing ingredients from local suppliers and growers. Paula is a photographer and runs her own professional studio, Bluebell Studios. Their children are Rían, 20, Caitlin, 19, Muirinn, 16, and Éabha, 15.

Tony says: “At work, I try to source as many products from local growers and producers as we possibly can. We use Rosslare crab from 12 miles out the road, but the fisherman, James, was my next-door neighbour growing up. I’m from Wexford town: I lived in 58, he lived in 59.

We buy crab directly from James. It’s really fresh and gorgeous and that’s why we use it, but the fact that it’s my childhood neighbour is lovely too.

“We’re using Meadowfield Farm goats’ cheese, a couple nearby who started making goats’ cheese only about three years ago. Our dressings are made from Wexford Rapeseed Oil from Adamstown, and of course there’s potatoes and strawberries; the list goes on. It’s a real commitment and it’s very rewarding.

“We’re a really musical family. I sing myself as a hobby; it really helps get rid of all the stress that can build up inside you.

“Rían has just finished his first year in music in WIT, Caitlin has just finished her Leaving Cert and she wants to study music and religion in DCU. Muirinn is going into fifth year and Éabha is going into third year, and they’re musical too: they play the cornet and violin.

“It’s a challenge every week to plan for all the different things we’re involved in, between school and study and work and everyone’s activities. That’s when convenience is a real cost in a lot of ways, from a household budget point of view too.

“Paula’s studio is behind the house and she can work her bookings around the girls and used to even more when they were younger. We’re lucky in that sense, and it’s one of the reasons she gave up the job she used to do to do photography full-time, so she could be around for the kids more.

“Muirinn is a bit of an eco-warrior; she’s very vociferous about single-use plastic, and climate change.

Caitlin was on the Green Schools committee when she was in sixth year and the caterers brought in a load of plastic cutlery and plates, and the committee got together and demanded change.

“They got rid of all the plastic from the canteen.

“They were delighted with it and I was really impressed. There’s definitely a movement being fronted by young people at the moment.

“We have separated bins for organic, recycling and mixed waste. In a house of teenagers, every now and then you have someone getting given out to for putting something in the wrong bin, but that seems to be a fact of life; we try our best.

“Paula needs a car for her photography and I need a car for work, so we’re a two-car family. I’d love to be able to go electric or hybrid but at the moment, with two in college and another on the way, that’s not really possible.

“We bought Paula’s diesel car because it’s a people carrier and there are six of us; a few years ago, the whole country was being told diesel was the way to go, which has turned out to be a bit of a fallacy.

“When I’m off I do the cooking. Paula likes her days off from the kitchen too.

“But she does most of the food shopping. Unfortunately, Wexford’s farmers market is quite small. Our local SuperValu is a great supporter of local suppliers; they actually stock things from a lot of the same suppliers that I use at work. Their fruit and veg selection is very good and they have a lot of organic produce too. We also use a local family butcher and a fruit and veg shop run by one of my suppliers.

“Energy is one big area I’d love to improve. Being the bill-payer, you notice, and you’d be asking, ‘Does the dishwasher have to be on all the time?’ Using the shower less would be great; with three teenage girls in the house, they’re always in the shower and you’re not talking three or four minutes either.

They’re conscious of things like microbeads in body scrubs though, and you’d hear them talking about stuff like that frequently, about how things like that can end up polluting the sea.

“I’m an optimist. There’s too much negativity at the moment, in everyday life and on social media.

“Last night we were talking and Muirinn was soapboxing about plastic in the supermarket and I said, ‘well, go down and let them know’. She said, ‘you don’t care, it won’t affect your lives because you’ll be gone, it’s our lives it’s going to affect’. And I said, ‘of course we care’.

“We’re much more aware of it now, and you can see the difference we’re making already.

“You might think places aren’t doing enough, but you still have to keep up that fight.”

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