Third-year student at DIT wins young chef award
The search for Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year 2012 came to an end last night as Ciarán Elliott was announced winner at a celebratory pop-up event in Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin.
Mr Elliot (24), from York, England, works in Dublin’s Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud on Upper Merrion Street. He is also in the third year of his BA in culinary arts in Dublin Institute of Technology Cathal Brugha Street.
Along with the young chef title, Mr Elliot will embark on a trip to San Sebastian, in northern Spain, to work under the guidance of chef Elena Arzak at her Basque restaurant, Arzak.
Now in its 22nd year, the competition, in association with Fáilte Ireland, began back in early September when Euro-toques issued a call to all young chefs in Ireland, aged 18 to 26. The judging process has included online applications, recipe submissions, interviews, a media speed tasting and pop-up lunch event in October, and a skills test undertaken on Sunday morning.
The final five competitors Mr Elliot, Mark Moriarty, John O’Connor, Keelan Higgs and Jack O’Keeffe were asked to prepare and plate two portions of their dish, which included pasture-reared chicken supplied by the competition.
The finalists were given just 60 minutes to execute the task under the gaze of the judges and media. Then they presented their dish to the panel of judges, who considered presentation as well as taste.
“It’s been a great challenge,” said Mr Elliot of the competition after he presented his dish. “You learn a lot about yourself and how you cope under pressure.”
This year’s judges included Gearóid Lynch, president of Euro-toques Ireland and young chef winner in 2000, as well as Trevor Moran, sous chef at Restaurant Noma, Copenhagen; Ross Lewis, Chapter One; Marc Amand, managing director of La Rousse Foods; Lorcan Cribbin, Il Segreto; and Stephen Gibson of Pichet. Neil McFadden served as chair.
At the final, Mr Lynch said: “Outstanding chefs like these are just what the industry needs and it is great for us that this competition can acknowledge that and give them something to aim towards at home.”
After a morning of cooking, questioning and, finally, feedback from the judges, the five chefs set off on their final challenge: preparing a five-course meal for guests at the announcement of the 2012 winner at Smock Alley Theatre. Each chef was responsible for one of the five dishes, giving them another opportunity to showcase their take on Irish cooking.
The 112 industry insiders, chefs and foodies to attend the “Ireland’s Foodscape” themed dinner were served Jerusalem artichoke; Maharees lobster with lobster tea; pie and mash; suckling pig with apple, cider and parsnip; barley pudding, smoked Connemara whiskey, pear, milk and honey; and chocolates from Cocoa Atelier.
On choosing a winner, Mr Lynch said, “All five finalists brought something different to the table but in the end Ciarán’s hard work and flair shone through.”