2010 Euro-toques Young Chef Winner – Mary Ryan, Knockranny House Hotel

29 November 2010

 Toques off to Mary Ryan

Winner of the Euro-toques Young Chef Competition 2010

Hats were raised in celebration as Mary Ryan from Knockranny House Hotel, Westport was announced the winner of the Euro-toques Young Chef Competition 2010 at a special ceremony in Restaurant Parick Guilbaud in Dublin today, Monday 29th November 2010.  Winner Mary Ryan and fellow finalists showcased their talents by each cooking one dish for the 5 course lunch in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.  Each course was carefully paired with the appropriate wine for the dish, supplied by Findlater Wine & Spirit Group.

Originally from LimerickEuro-toques Young Chef 2010 winner, Mary Ryan (24) 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 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.

Now in its 20th year, the Euro-toques Young Chef Competition attracted candidates who are above all excellent cooks but also chefs who think about what is happening beyond the kitchen, where ingredients come from, how they are sourced and produced and the culinary traditions of their craft.

Mary Ryan, along with her fellow finalists – Margaret Roche from The Cellar at The Merrion Hotel Dublin;Pauli Vanttila from Gregan’s Castle, Co Clare; Keelan Higgs from Chapter One, Dublin and Una Donohoefrom The Egg Restaurant, Avoca Rathcoole – competed in a culinary skills test on Sunday 28th November where each finalist demonstrated their individual skills and prepared an original dish, incorporating the rack, kidneys and sweetbreads of Irish lamb.  They each had 90 minutes to present two main course portions to restaurant standards.  The ability to use many different cuts of the Irish lamb not only highlighted its versatility, but also is in keeping with the nose to tail aspect of this year’s competition.

Reaching this stage of the competition demonstrates the brilliance of these young chefs.  The judges at this stage – 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 – had the the challenging task of choosing only one winner from this group of talented young chefs.

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.

Speaking at the skills cook off, special guest judge and 2 Michelin star Chef Brett Graham from The Ledbury London was surprised as the incredibly high standard in the competition.  “It is very encouraging to see the next generation of young and inspired cooks coming up the ranks,” he commented.  “I was very impressed at the finalist chefs level of skill and while flavour was the most important element of the final dish being judged, each finalist also utised modern techniques while maintaining the classic base.”

“Seasonal and locally sourced produce is the making of a great dish and the chefs understanding and knowledge about food and its locality was very evident in each of their dishes. This competition is important to our industry, to  foster young talented chefs who will each one day be deserving of higher accolades in their careers” concludes Brett.

“The Euro-toques Young Chef Competition not only tests the culinary skills of each young chef, but also demands hard work, energy and commitment. The fact that these 5 finalists have devoted themselves so wholeheartedly to the competition really shows how passionate they are about what they do in the kitchen. The competition is more than just what took place in the kitchen on Sunday at the Culinary Skills Final; it’s also all of the hours practicing, conceiving unique dishes and testing new ideas and flavours.  That’s also where the training and mentoring aspect of the competition, the role that their mentor chefs have played, is significant as well, because they have been involved in every stage of the competition, helping to support and guide the finalists, and that also takes commitment.”  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 Euro-toques Young Chef Competition 2010 had the support four committed partners, each distinctive 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.


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.

About Brett Graham:

Brett Graham began his cooking career in Newcastle, Australia, aged 15, working in a simple fish restaurant.  He then moved to Sydney where during a 3-year sting under Liam Tomlin at the highly acclaimed Ban restaurant, he won the Josephine Pignolet Award.  This granted him a trip to the UK where he secured a job at the Square, working under Philip Howard.  Further awards followed, including the title of “Young Chef of the Year” in 2002.

Following 3 years of commitment to The Square, Brett was given the opportunity to open The Ledbury. The restaurant has gained many accolades which includes winning a Michelin Star in its first year.

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