Congrats to Waterford’s Jeni Pim, the winner of the first head to head in the Chef du Jour competition organized by the energetic Kate Lawlor, the Head Chef at Fenn’s Quay, one of Cork’s favourite restaurants.
Jeni got the nod ahead of Clare resident Paul Callaghan. But both were winners, brave and accomplished amateurs entering the professionals' den and each holding the nerves to come up with an excellent evening meal, each of four courses. Quite a daunting prospect but the two came through with flying colours in Fenn’s Quay.
|Click on image to enlarge. Clockwise - From top left, Jeni and Kate, Dessert duo, dessert trio. Paul, Cranberry shot, petits fours, Coq au Vin|
Paul: Cherry Tomato with Ardsallagh goats cheese, basil pesto and a sea salt cracker.
Jeni: Sweet Potato salad with a cranberry shot.
A pretty even start but I think Paul’s was that bit more inventive and I gave him the thumbs up here.
Paul: Mussels (Oysterhaven) cooked with bacon and Stonewell cider.
Jeni: Venison Sausage with onion marmalade and crostini.
Nothing wrong with the mussels but the more adventuresome Jeni went ahead here and the venison proved very popular.
Paul: Rosscarbery pork belly with potato and horseradish puree, braised red cabbage with a mulled red wine jus.
Jeni: Coq au Vin with celeriac mas, rosemary jelly warm spinach and mushroom salad.
This was of course the major round and a major point gatherer for Jeni with her unusual version of the French classic and a terrific salad. The pork belly was less well received, people not happy with an excess of fat. The excellent braised red cabbage, which really balanced the dish, arrived somewhat late at the table.
Paul: A trio of desserts - White chocolate cheese cake, mixed berry crumble and meringue tower of strawberries and vanilla cream.
Jeni: Dessert duo of Green tea parfait with plums and oatmeal shortcakes with warm
Well, it was sweet heaven each night. This was really a strong point for Paul but Jeni kept very much in touch with her offering and indeed scored again with her tempting selection of petits fours that came with the tea and coffee.
The evening was also enhanced by a very nice aperitif from Fenns Quay and by some excellent wines (White Ventenac Chenin Colombard 2010, Red: Domaine d'Angayrac Costières de Nimes 2009: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre) from River Wines.
And there were loads of valuable spots, provided by the restaurant itself, Michael Wall, River Wines and Margaret Smith
Judges over the two nights included Elke O’Mahony*, Evin O’Keeffe, Michael Logan and Margaret Smith. Paul was awarded 3.5 stars for his menu while Jeni was showered with 4.5. Well done to both.
*Read Elke’s review of the first night here