Galway woman named young Irish chef of the year

Irish gastronomy is in safe hands says guest judge Michel Roux junior at Euro-Toques young chef 2019 final

Winning chef Gráinne Mullins, centre, with (l. to r.) judges Margot Janse, Gareth Mullins, Michel Roux junior and Paul Flynn

Winning chef Gráinne Mullins, centre, with (l. to r.) judges Margot Janse, Gareth Mullins, Michel Roux junior and Paul Flynn

 

The winner of the Euro-Toques Ireland young chef of the year 2019 title is Gráinne Mullins, head pastry chef at Lignum restaurant in Loughrea, Co Galway. Mullins was previously head pastry chef at Michelin-starred Ox in Belfast before joining the start-up team at Lignum, which opened in her home town in September and is an ambitious project majoring in Irish produce prepared, cooked and served using wood.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

This competition has been underway since July, with several rounds of judging leading to a final practical skills and creativity assessment, which took place at Dublin Cookery School in Blackrock on Sunday.

The eight finalists each had two and a half hours to cook either a starter or a dessert using Irish buttermilk or Jersey milk from The Village Dairy, along with Irish honey, and a main course of Regan Organic Farm chicken, using as many parts of the bird as possible and showcasing a range of skills and techniques.

Euro-Toques Ireland young chef winner Gráinne Mullins presenting her dishes to judges Michel Roux junior (centre) and Margot Janse.
Euro-Toques Ireland young chef winner Gráinne Mullins presenting her dishes to judges Michel Roux junior (centre) and Margot Janse.

The competition, which is presented by La Rousse Foods, was judged by Michel Roux junior of Le Gavroche in London, South-Africa-based Dutch chef Margot Janse, Irish Times columnist Paul Flynn of the Tannery restaurant, and Gareth Mullins, executive head chef at the Marker hotel.

Roux said of the winner that she “showed exceptional skills, with a focus that you normally see in more experienced chefs. The dishes that she cooked had clarity and depth of flavour and a meaning.” Her winning dishes were chicken soup, ceaile and offal tartlet, and a dessert of carrageen pudding.

Mullins’s winning dishes, chicken soup with ceaile and offal tartlet, and carrageen pudding.
Mullins’s winning dishes, chicken soup with ceaile and offal tartlet, and carrageen pudding.

“I was very impressed by the imagination and different techniques on show today. No one let themselves down, truly exquisite cooking from all the chefs. Gastronomy in Ireland is in safe hands,” Roux said.

The other finalists were Daniel Hannigan (head chef at Mr S); Karan Mittal (head chef at Ananda); James Dobson (Potager); Attila Galambos (Aniar); Gareth O’Brien (Bastible); Matthew Stafford (The Greenhouse) and Alison Tierney (Dax).

"All my dishes were inspired by the stories of my family. The eggs were from my mum and the herbs are from my garden, and everything was so personal. The carrageen pudding was inspired by my grandmother,” the winning chef said.

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