Irish pastry chef among best in the world

Paula Stakelum makes final eight in the Valrhona international patisserie championship

Paula Stakelum, executive pastry chef, won a regional qualifier for the Valrhona C3 patisserie championship in France on Thursday and will represent Ireland at the final in New York in October

Paula Stakelum, executive pastry chef, won a regional qualifier for the Valrhona C3 patisserie championship in France on Thursday and will represent Ireland at the final in New York in October

 

Paula Stakelum, executive head pastry chef at Ashford Castle, has reached the final eight in a worldwide patisserie competition and will represent Ireland at the final of the Valrhona C3 championships in New York next October. The C3 - chocolate, chef, competition - is a biennial event currently in its fifth running.

The 32-year-old, from Thurles, Co Tipperary, won the Irish round of the Valrhona Irish national patisserie championship last May, on her third appearance in the competition. She trained in professional cookery at Cork IT and in culinary arts at GMIT in Galway, where she specialised in pastry. She has worked at Ashford Castle since 2010.

On Thursday, she took part in a qualifying round at the Valrhona chocolate school in Versailles, Paris, where she had five and a half hours of skills tests including preparing a plated dessert and molded chocolate bonbons, using Manjari 64%, a dark couverture chocolate from the Valrhona Grand Cru de Terroir range.

Paula Stakelum’s winning dessert, inspired by trees and produce from the Ashford Castle estate
Paula Stakelum’s winning dessert, inspired by trees and produce from the Ashford Castle estate

Stakelum called her dessert “Ashford Estate Pine 2017 with Estate Crab Apple”, and took her inspiration from trees.

“In the spring of 2017 I preserved pine tips to create an oil with the aroma, which I used in the dessert. The crab apples I bottled in the autumn of 2017, from the very rare crab apple tree we have on the estate.”

The bonbons were created using sloe gin and wild hazelnuts. “I used sloes from the estate and Shortcross gin.”

Stakelum said she was emotional when announced as the winner. “I put my heart and soul into training, and I was so lucky to be given time and support by the amazing team I work with at Ashford Castle.”

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