Chef's mother's 'superhero' role in his success
Food File: Ireland has an enviable record in the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition for the industry’s high-fliers
Nicolas Fagundes Galindo (second from left), from Chapter One in Dublin, accepting his San Pellegrino award alongside Pippa Lovell and Timothée Martin-Nadaud and overall winner Jerome Calayag (third from left).
Vegetables as a fine dining dish; the importance of gender balance in the kitchen - and one chef’s mother’s superhero role in his success - these were the messages taken away from the UK & North Europe regional final of the global San Pellegrino Young Chef 2020 in London recently.
Ireland has an enviable record in this competition for the industry’s high-fliers. Mark Moriarty, now working at Michelin two-star restaurant The Greenhouse in Dublin, won the inaugural title in 2015, being crowned best young chef in the world, and last year Killian Crowley triumphed in the UK and Ireland regional round, and went on to compete at the gala finale in Milan.
Crowley, who recently finished up at Aniar restaurant in Galway and plans to open a place of his own in his home country of Belgium, was the guest chef for the gala dinner which followed the London regional round.
This year, 2,400 initial entries were received for the competition. That was whittled down, by means of a written submission, to just 135 chefs selected to take part in 12 regional finals – and two of them were from Ireland.
The regional final in London saw 15 chefs from Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Isle of Man cook their signature dish for a seven-member jury that included chef, restaurateur and TV presenter Monica Galetti and Jess Murphy from Kai restaurant in Galway.
In a move to address gender imbalance in professional kitchens, this year the regional finals, taking place all over the world between June and December, each had a minimum of three female chefs in the line-up and the juries were also gender balanced. In London, four women and three men made up the judging panel.
Arlen Ortega (28), a Venezuelan who has been working in Ireland for the past six years, represented Glovers Alley in Dublin and was mentored for the competition by the restaurant’s head chef Philip Roe. Ortega presented a dish of Skeaghanore duck with papelon sauce (made with evaporated sugar cane juice), savoury cabbage and seaweed gel, reflecting his heritage and his adopted home.
Nicolas Fagundes Galindo, a Brazilian who originally came to Ireland seven years ago to study English, represented Chapter One and was mentored by chef patron Ross Lewis. Fagundes Galindo also melded his origins with his Irish experiences in a dish called Textures and Flavours of Palm and Ox.
Slow cooked Kilkenny ox tongue and Brazilian fresh palm were the main components of his dish, which won for him the Food for Thought award. Voted for by readers of Fine Dining Lovers, an online food magazine, this award was for the chef who best expressed themselves through their food.
Fagundes Galindo’s dish required fresh palm, harvested in his home country and shipped to him in Dublin. But it wasn’t a straightforward movement of goods – the fragile ingredient needed to be kept at a constant chilled temperature to survive the four-day journey to Ireland. It was the chef’s mother who came up with the solution, a specialised 25kg crate normally used to transport medicines. “Mothers are superheroes,” he said.
The overall winner of the regional final, who will represent Sweden at the final in Milan next May, was Filipino chef Jerome Calayag, whose winning dish was a vegetarian medley of carrot, leek and Jerusalem artichoke. The "Humble Vegetables" as this dish was called, were transformed by clever techniques into a plate that looked stunning and had Monica Galetti asking for more of the carrot element, which was based on the Filipino street food, Isaw, made with intestines grilled on a stick.