Its Hotting Up in the Kitchen
Euro-toques Young Chef Competition 2011 – Finalists announced

The temperature has been high in the kitchen and now the finalists, six outstanding young professional chefs from around the country, have been announced (8 November) each competing  for this year’s Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year 2011.

The Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year, in association with BIM & Failte Ireland, is the only professional culinary competition in the country based around local and artisan food ingredients. Through mentoring and training based prizes the competition aims to contribute to the professional development of promising young industry professionals.

Despite the recession the number of skilled chefs in Ireland significantly falls short of the demand in Irish kitchens and restaurants; many qualified chefs travel abroad and not enough return home!  For 21 years, the Euro-toques Young Chef competition has been searching for – and nurturing - the future culinary talent of Ireland.

Celebrating this achievement are Kamil Dubanik (23) from Knockranny House Hotel, Westport; Aisling Gallagher (24) from Ballynahinch Castle, Galway; Kyle Greer (24) from No 27 Talbot Street Belfast; Micheal Harley (22) from Rathmullan House, Co. Donegal; David Magaeen (24) from Restaurant Victoria Belfast and Margaret Roche (23) from The Cellar at The Merrion Hotel Dublin. (detailed biogs below).

Such industry chefs as Paul Flynn, Ross Lewis and current Euro-toques Commissioner-General Gearoid Lynch are involved in the competition judging, along with representatives from competition partners BIM and Failte Ireland. Candidates, who must be under the age of 25, submitted a written recipe entry and were then shortlisted for interview and a blind taste test. From these two stages, six finalists were selected to compete in the final.

The heat is now on!  These six finalists now have the next 3 weeks to devise and practice their dishes for the culinary skills test final in Chapter One Restaurant on Sunday 27th November. They must prepare and plate 2 portions of an original dish, using Dublin Bay Prawns and Achill Island Turbot, and present it to the panel of 5 chef judges for tasting, within 70 minutes. On the skills test judging panel Paul Flynn (The Tannery Dungarvan) and Ross Lewis (Chapter One Restaurant Dublin) will be joined by Lorcan Cribbin (Il Segreto Restaurant Dublin), Marc Amand, MD La Rousse Foods and panel chair Neil McFadden. Both Cribbin & McFadden have competed for Ireland on a World Stage in the renowned Bocuse d’Or and know what it takes to compete at that level.

In addition, over the next 3 weeks, the six young finalists will also need to perfect their dishes for a tasting menu which will showcase their talents for state, industry and media guests at the 5 star Merrion Hotel Dublin on Monday 28th of November. Each of the finalists will be introduced to guests before their course is served. At the end of the presentation lunch  the 21st Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year will be announced.

Despite the recession the number of skilled chefs in Ireland significantly falls short of the demand in Irish kitchens and restaurants; many qualified chefs travel abroad and not enough return home!  For 21 years, the Euro-toques Young Chef competition has been searching for – and nurturing - the future culinary talent of Ireland.

“We are crying out for talented, hard-working chefs in our kitchens right now” commented Gearoid Lynch, Commissioner General Euro-toques Ireland at today’s event.  “It is very heartening to see young chefs such as these six, who are willing to push themselves, aim ever higher and who see a future for themselves in this industry. This competition allows us to contribute to their development as chefs and also to hold them up as examples to those who may come after them; both in terms of what is expected of them, but also what they can achieve. It is also hugely important for us to recognise the experienced chefs who give their time and commitment to training future talent. Our competition partners BIM and Failte Ireland have recognised the role that chefs have to play in promoting Irish food and tourism, and we must ensure our industry lives up to that expectation by investing in its future”.

The competition emphasises training and development, with the role of the mentor being central to the process.  This years sponsors are BIM and Failte Ireland and their involvement reflects their recognition of the importance of chefs in building Ireland’s national and international food reputation, the pivotal role that ‘local food’ plays in this and, above all, their commitment to education and development in this sector.  This year’s competition is also supported suppliers La Rousse Foods, Findlater Wine & Spirit Group and Bragard, and Industry partners The Merrion Hotel Dublin, The Ivy London and Chapter One Restaurant.

The top prize for the 2011 Young Chef of the Year will be the opportunity of an all-expenses paid stage at The Ivy, London's favourite restaurant, under Executive Chef Gary Lee. Plus a one week stage at the award winning Michelin star Chapter One restaurant in Dublin under the tutelage of Euro-toques head chef Ross Lewis.

Among the overall prizes, each of the finalists will win a unique food experience with BIM and Failte Ireland. BIM will host a one day practical on-site introduction to the complex world of the seafood industry, visiting a seafood facility and discussing how fish is caught or harvested, bought, and sold, and what this all means to a chef. Including meetings with key industry personnel, processors and industry chef.  Failte Ireland will host a Food Tourism road trip - an educational 4 day food focused road trip taking in ‘hands-on’ cooking time  in top professional kitchens, visits to artisan food producers;  tastings, demos, unique meal experiences  and overnight stays with exemplary Irish food and hospitality operators.

For more info, including biogs of the young chefs, read here...

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.  

More at The Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year has been running since 1990 and is judged by some of Ireland’s top industry chefs, as well as a guest chef from overseas.

Finalists Biographies:
Kamil Dubanik (23), originally from Poland, started working in Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, Co. Mayo in 2007 and worked his was up to his current position of Demi-Chef de Partie.  Cooking allows Kamil express his passion for a diversity of ingredients and demonstrate his creativity.  His chef hero is Ferran Adrià !  He recently completed an Advanced Certificate in Professional Cookery at GMIT and will graduate soon.
Kamil  is mentored by Knockranny House Hotel Euro-toques Head Chef Seamus Commons (mentor of last year’s Euro-toques Young Chef winner).

Aisling Gallagher (24) has been on the team in Ballynahinch Castle, Galway since Feb 2010 and is now Chef de Partie.  Aisling’s grandad was a baker and her passion for cooking started at a young age.  She is looking forward to travelling to India on her next break and experiencing a new culture and tasting exciting flavours and ingredients.
She has worked in several other establishments in Galway and the West and is a graduate of GMIT and would like to do an advanced pastry course to enhance her skills.
Aisling is mentored by Ballynahinch Castle Euro-toques Head Chef Xin Sun (twice a finalist himself in the ETYC)

Originally from Antrim, Kyle Greer (24), studied computing but realised very quickly his passion lay in cooking and he started his apprenticeship with No 27 Talbot Street Belfast in 2009, moving from Commis Chef to Senior Chef de partie. While he had some experience in kitchens prior to this, Kyle wanted to get experience and learn the technical skills required in a professional kitchen.  While there he has also completed stages to gain further experience including one at Restaurant Tom Aikens and Shu in Belfast.  Kyle was also nominated earlier this year to submit 2 recipes for ITV’s Britain’s Best Dish – The Chefs, which was filmed in London and we will see him competing on TV this Autumn!
Kyle is mentored by No. 27 Head  chef Michael Glinkofski.

Micheál Harley (22) is originally from Letterkenny and is currently responsible for the pastry section at Rathmullan House, Co. Donegal, where he has worked since May 2010.
He is a graduate of School of Tourism Killybegs (LYIT) and did his work experience in Harvey’s oint.  The best experience of Micheal’s life to date was receiving a scholarship to renowned Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. Winning the Young Chef competition would be his next dream realised; having a chance to work at The Ivy Restaurant in London and at Chapter One Dublin alongside Ross Lewis.
Micheál  is mentored by Rathmullan Euro-toques Head Chef Kelan McMichael.

David Magaeen (24) hails from Portaferry, Co. Down and is head chef at Restaurant Victoria, Belfast under the guidance of chef/patron Raymond McArdle, a position he has held since July this year. David’s interest in food was captured at a young age experiencing differnet ingredients; his mum was a pastry chef and his father is a part-time lobster fisherman.
He previously worked with his mentor at the Nuremore Hotel, Carrickmacross and Rosso Restaurant, Dundalk.  He has studied at Belfast Institute for Further and Higher Education.
David is mentored by Raymond McArdle, Restaurant Victoria by Raymond McArdle, Belfast and Restaurant 23 Warrenpoint.

Originally from Carlow, Margaret Roche (23) is Chef de Partie in the Pasty section at the Merrion Hotel. She has worked in the Merrion, starting on college placement, since May 2008. She has also completed a stage at Arbutus in London. She has an honours degree in Culinary Arts from DIT.   Margaret has participated in a number of competitive cooking events and loves the challenge.  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 2010, Margaret worked at Arbutus Restaurant in Soho, London and Margaret was also a finalist in 2010 Young Chef of the year.
Mentored by Merrion Hotel Euro-toques Executive Chef Ed Cooney.