Revealed: Ireland’s best young chef 2022

Challenging eight-month selection process culminates in three-hour cook off

Calum Falls, junior sous chef at Michelin two star restaurant Aimsir in Co Kildare, has been named as Euro-Toques Ireland Best Young Chef 2022. The prestigious annual competition for professional chefs aged between 18 and 28, reached the ultimate stages of an eight-month process on Sunday, when the seven finalists faced a skills test at Dublin Cookery School, and then cooked at a gala dinner at the InterContinental hotel in Dublin.

Falls was mentored for the competition, which is supported by La Rousse Foods, by Aimsir’s head chef, Jordan Bailey.

In the final stage of the competition, the chefs were tasked with cooking two dishes, one using Achill mountain lamb and lamb offal, and another with Irish raspberries, in front of a panel of judges from Ireland and abroad.

Guest judge for the competition was chef Martina Puigvert Puigdevall, from two Michelin star Les Cols in Catalunya, Spain, who was joined on the panel by chefs Kieran Glennon (Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud), Keelan Higgs (Variety Jones), Graham Neville (Dax), Gareth Mullins (The Marker), Domini Kemp (Itsa Group) and former winner of this competition Conor Halpenny (Square Restaurant).

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In the three hours allocated, Falls cooked a main course of caramelised lamb liver, puffed dulse cracker, heather spiced lamb leg, brown butter butternut, ceps, nettles, and a dessert of raspberries, buckwheat, rose, and honey shortbread. The finalists were marked under three headings: execution and work practice, taste and flavour, and presentation.

The other finalists, who progressed from an initial written test and interview, and a semi-final last May that involved a mystery box cooking test, came from an initial entry of more than 40 young chefs from across Ireland. They were David Condon (The Shelbourne); Victor Franca (Nua Asador); Attila Galambos (Aniar); Leticia Miranda (Mae Restaurant); Shauna Murphy (Adare Manor) and Eoghan O’Flynn (Liss Ard Estate).

“This year we saw exceptional skill on display all the way through the Euro-Toques Young Chef competition which made the finals very close. Myself and the extended team are, as we are every year, incredibly encouraged to see this high quality level of cooking so early in the careers of these talented young people,” said Gareth Mullins, Commissioner General of Euro-Toques.” Choosing the winner was very difficult but Calum Falls from Aimsir showed enormous skill in both of his final dishes, not just aesthetically — they were gorgeous to look at — but in the exceptional depth of flavour too.”