The search is on for Ireland’s best young chef

Previous winners include Mark Moriarty and Maeve Walsh, the current holder of the title, who is about to start new job in Michelin two-star in the UK

Maeve Walsh, the young Co Waterford woman who was named Ireland's best young chef last year, has been offered a full-time job at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, the Michelin two-star restaurant in Cornwall where she did a week-long stage (work placement) as part of her prize for winning the Euro-Toques Ireland competition.

"I begin working with the team in Port Isaac the first week in July, and I'm really looking forward to starting," said Walsh, who was working at Restaurant FortyOne in Dublin and was mentored by executive head chef Graham Neville in last year's competition.

She also recently completed a two-week stage at Le Charlemagne, a one-star Asian-fusion style restaurant in a small village outside the town of Beaune in France.

Nathan Outlaw, chef/proprietor at the Port Isaac restaurant as well as three others in Cornwall and London, was the guest judge in last year’s Euro-Toques young chef competition.


Back to basics

Entries are now being accepted for the 2017 judging, and the theme this year is Back to Basics: Olde Skool Cooking. "We are focusing on basic skills. Our chefs feel that today's young chefs are at times lacking in basic skills. They can all use a sous vide, but they cannot always braise a piece of meat," said Euro-Toques secretary-general Manuela Spinelli.

Guidelines to taking part say “Entrants must use their creativity to demonstrate their culinary skills, focusing on basic, simple techniques. We want to see raw talent at its best and to push young chefs to stick to what today is considered ‘old school cooking’. Skills and techniques are the fundamentals of any cuisine and it is only by building solid foundations that young chefs can develop their style and become creative”.

The competition is open to professional chefs, or chefs in training, aged betwen 18 and 26 years, and online entries will be accepted here until noon on August 1st. Taking part in the competition involves a social media task, a written submission, and an interview, after which 12 semi-finalists will be selected.

Practical skills

In a change to the judging process this year, there will be two chances for finalists to show their practical skills, with a cooking test at this stage, and again when the contestants are whittled down to the last six. The final judging will take place on Sunday, November 19th, and the competition is sponsored by La Rousse Foods.

Some of Ireland's best known chefs have been winners of this competition in the past, including Neven Maguire, Gearoid Lynch and Mark Moriarty, who followed his 2013 win by taking the San Pellegrino best young chef in the world title the following year.

Maeve Walsh was the second woman in succession to take the title, following on from Ruth Lappin, who was chef de partie at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin when she won in 2015.

“Winning the Euro-Toques young chef of the year 2016 has jump started my career, putting me 10 steps ahead,” Walsh said.

“Just by entering the competition you get to meet so many new people in the industry, and chefs that you’ve admired for years. I went into the competition just to gain some experience, not expecting to win, but it was amazing. I really encourage young chefs to enter the competition.”

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