2010 Euro-toques Young Chef Competition Finalists Announced at Chapter One

10th Nov 2010

The Heat is On

Euro-toques Young Chef Competition 2010 – Finalists announced

Young chefs the length and breadth of the country have been vying for a place in the Euro-toques Young Chef competition final and today, Tuesday 9th November, five outstanding finalists were announced at a special lunch hosted by Chapter One Restaurant in Dublin.

Celebrating this achievemet are Margaret Roche from The Cellar at The Merrion Hotel Dublin;Pauli Vanttila from Gregan’s Castle, Co Clare; Keelan Higgs from Chaper One, Dublin; Mary Ryan from Knockranny House Hotel, Westport and Una Donohoe from The Egg Restaurant, Avoca Rathcoole.

 

All entrants to the competition were shortlisted following their written submission, which included a full recipe for a main course dish of local character with Irish lamb as the central ingredient.  The shortlist of entrants were interviewed in October and also challenged with a blind taste test. Judges at this stage of the competition were Aidan MacManus (King Sitric Restaurant, Howth), Gearoid Lynch (The Olde Poste Inn Cavan) and Ciara Gallagher, Food & Hospitality Innovation at Failte Ireland.

The finalists are:

At 22, Margaret Roche is this year’s youngest finalist.  She is a student at DIT, currently completing her BA Culinary Arts Degree.  When she isn’t busy with her cookery studies, Margaret is hard at work in the kitchen of The Cellar at The Merrion, under the leadership of her Euro-toques mentor & head chef, Ed Cooney.

23 year old Pauli Vanttila from Finland, works under the watchful eye of his mentor & head chef, Mickael Viljanen.  Pauli attended the same Catering school in Finland as Mickael, and it is this connection that provided Pauli with the opportunity to try his hand at cooking in Gregans Castle. His Finnish roots help him to put a unique stamp on his food.

Keelan Higgs is only 24 years old and has already found himself in 3 Michelin star restaurants! Currently working at Chapter One Restaurant in Dublin’s city centre, Keelan continues to hone his craft and learn from his Euro-toques mentor chef & head chef, Ross Lewis. His passion for cooking and using fresh, seasonal ingredients is obvious in what he produces on the plate.

 

Mary Ryan completed an advanced certificate in Professional Cookery at Limerick IT with the honour of distinction and also received a scholarship to attend Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, USA.  She now works at Knockranny House Hotel under her mentor & head chef, Seamus Commons, who is also a member of Euro-toques. Her zeal for cooking is evidenced not only in her food, but also in her desire to continually educate herself about where and how to source the best ingredients she can find.

23 year old Una Donohoe took quite a career turn and turned her sights towards cooking after finishing a BA in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway.  Now, with the Total Immersion Chef Programme at GMIT under her belt, Una currently works in The Egg Restaurant at Avoca. Una is passionate about championing the use of fresh, local and seasonal ingredients and looks forward to the opportunity to cook and learn from kitchens abroad.

The heat is now on!  These five finalists will compete in a culinary skills test on Sunday 28thNovember which requires each finalist to demonstrate their individual skills and prepare an original dish, incorporating the rack, kidneys and sweetbreads of Irish lamb.  They will be required to present two main course portions to restaurant standards within 90 minutes.

This is cooking at a very high standard and the judges – Neil McFadden, Euro-toques Chef; Special guest judge and 2 Michelin star Chef Brett Graham from The Ledbury London; Neven Maguire, MacNean Bistro Cavan; Guillaume Le Brun, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud and Marc Amand, La Rousse Foods – will each have a challenge in choosing only one winner from this group of talented young chefs.  The Euro-toques Young Chef winner will be announced at a presentation lunch in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud on Monday 29th November, for which the finalists will be cooking the 5 course meal.

“We have been blown away at the high level of skill and knowledge represented by each entrant in this year’s competition.  This commitment and passion from young chefs at this level is exceptional and is a testament to their own skills and that of their mentor chefs, who have been involved in every stage of the competition.”  Comments Feargal O’Donnell, Commissioner General Euro-toques Ireland.  “We have a strong culinary heritage in Ireland and Euro-toques are proud to foster talent in young chefs and showcase their potential now and into the future.  We are also delighted to have the support of our four competition partners this year – Bord Bia, Failte Ireland, Findlater Wine & Spirits Group and La Rousse Foods.  They too recognise the value and importance of this competition to our industry at every level.”

The prize package for the Euro-toques Young Chef Competition centres on mentoring and career development opportunities. Failte Ireland will host a 4 day study visit for all five finalists next Spring to the world renowned L’Ecole Gregoire Ferrandi Culinary School in Paris, while the overall winner will stay on in France for a week-long stage of discovery with the boutique Chocolaterie de L’Opera, sponsored by La Rousse Foods. The top prize for the 2010 Young Chef of the Year will be the opportunity of an all-expenses paid stage in London at renowned 2 Michelin star restaurant The Ledbury, under young Australian head chef Brett Graham. The role of the mentor chef is essential in this competition, and the senior chef who supports the eventual winner, will be treated to a trip to London for a tasting menu at The Ledbury.

Each of four committed partners in this year’s competition have distinct roles. La Rousse Foods,who work closely with Euro-toques on their Chef Development programme of workshops for student and industry chefs, are the official supplier to the Euro-toques Young Chef competition.Bord Bia work in partnership with Euro-toques to promote local food sourcing and the Just Ask initiative. The competition promotes this concept and put Irish lamb, a quality natural Irish product, at the centre of the competition theme. As Food Tourism partners, Failte Ireland also support the promotion of local and regional character within dishes, and their involvement in the competition is also based on their industry training role.  Euro-toques is eager to encourage a rounded holistic approach from chefs, and this is where the important task of food and wine pairing comes in, supported by competition wine partners Findlater Wine & Spirit Group.

—ends—

For more information please contact:

Valda Boardman PR / 01 299 9090 / 086 233 0083 / valda@vbpr.ie

 

About Euro-toques:

Euro-toques, The European Community of Cooks, was established in 1986 in Brussels as a guardian of European culinary heritage,  as a lobby group addressing the concerns of Europe’s top chefs and cooks about food quality and the future of food, and as a network of like-minded chefs. Euro-toques Ireland was founded by Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House the same year and now has almost 200 member cooks/chefs including Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivain, Ross Lewis of Chapter One, Guillaume Le Brun of Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Kevin Dundon of Dunbrody House, Paul Flynn of the Tannery and Neven Maguire of MacNean House.

Finalists Biographies:

At 22, Margaret Roche is this year’s youngest finalist.  She is a student at DIT, currently completing her BA Culinary Arts Degree.  When she isn’t busy with her cookery studies, Margaret is hard at work in the kitchen of The Cellar at The Merrion, under the leadership of her Euro-toques mentor & head chef, Ed Cooney.  As a young woman quite involved in competitive sport, having played Gaelic football and camoige for her local team, and even playing football for Wicklow in 2006, it should come as no surprise that Margaret has also participated in a number of competitive cooking events.  She represented Ireland in Germany in October 2008 for the Culinary Olympics and competed in Chef Ireland with DIT, helping to bring back a silver and gold medal with the college team.  In May and June of this year, Margaret worked at Arbutus Restaurant in Soho, London and she hopes that the valuable skills learned both at home and abroad will help her become the next Euro-toques young chef of the year.

23 year old Pauli Vanttila has found himself calling Co. Clare home for the last two years, travelling all the way from his native country, Finland, to work under the watchful eye of his mentor & head chef, Mickael Viljanen. Pauli attended the same Catering school in Finland as Mickael, and it is this connection that provided Pauli with the opportunity to try his hand at cooking in Gregans Castle.  His Finnish roots help him to put a unique stamp on his food.  Pauli is no stranger to hard work, and it is this determination, combined with his sharp palate that has helped pave the way to the Euro-toques Young Chef final this year.

Keelan Higgs is only 24 years old and has already found himself in 3 Michelin star restaurants!  At Locanda Arnolfo in Siena, Italy, Keelan learned the fine art of making fresh pasta, tortellini, and numerous other traditional Italian dishes.  At Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, he was initially introduced to the attention to detail that is required to prepare impeccable food in a fine dining, Michelin starred restaurant.   Currently working atChapter One Restaurant in Dublin’s city centre, Keelan continues to hone his craft and learn from his Euro-toques mentor chef & head chef, Ross Lewis.  From Greystones in Wicklow, Keelan holds an honours degree in Culinary Arts from DIT Cathal Brugha Street and his passion for cooking and using fresh, seasonal ingredients is obvious in what he produces on the plate.

Mary Ryan completed an advanced certificate in Professional Cookery at Limerick IT and was not only awarded the honour of distinction, but also received a scholarship to attend Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, USA.  She has since relocated and now lives in Westport, where she works at Knockranny House Hotel under her mentor & head chef, Seamus Commons, who is also a member of Euro-toques.  Mary has fond memories of simple and tasty food cooked by her mother at home in Limerick and appreciates the importance of quality ingredients, as well as making sure that future generations can taste and value the same types of culinary traditions she remembers from growing up.  Her zeal for cooking is evidenced not only in her cooking, but also in her desire to continually educate herself about where and how to source the best ingredients she can find.

After finishing a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, 23 year old Una Donohoe took quite a career turn and turned her sights towards cooking.  Now, with the Total Immersion Chef Programme at GMIT under her belt, Una currently works in The Egg Restaurant at Avoca.  She is quite taken with the flavours and cooking traditions of Eastern Europe, and as such Una would love to do some cooking abroad, possibly somewhere such as Turkey.  Una is passionate about championing the use of fresh, local and seasonal ingredients.  Excited about the prospect of working abroad, she would love to take what she learns about different culinary traditions and authentic use of ingredients and bring that knowledge and skill set back to Ireland to be put to great use in a restaurant of her own – possibly even in her hometown of Mullingar!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s