The finalists in the Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year 2019 have been revealed, and instead of the usual six there will be eight chefs taking part in the grand final in Dublin in November.
The judges increased the number going forward “due to the exceptional talent on display at the semi-final,” where they were judged on their technical skills and ability to create a dish with mystery ingredients.
The finalists include two chefs who also reached the last round of the competition in 2018 – Attila Galambos from Aniar in Galway, and Matthew Stafford, now at The Greenhouse in Dublin and previously at Sage in Midleton.
Two additional finalists, Grainne Mullins and Daniel Hannigan, hold positions at new restaurants that are not yet open. Mullins, formerly head pastry chef at Ox in Belfast, is part of the set up team for Lignum, which will open soon at Bullaun, near Loughrea in Co Galway, and will focus on Irish ingredients cooked over wood fires. Hannigan left Richmond, in Dublin 2, to take up the position of head chef at Mr S, a new restaurant scheduled to open on Camden Street, from the owners of Featherblade on Dawson Street.
They will be joined in the final by James Dobson (Potager, Skerries); Karan Mittal (Ananda Restaurant); Gareth O'Brien (Bastible) and Alison Tierney (Dax).
The judges for the semi-final were London-based Irish chefs Anna Haugh and Shauna Froydenlund, along with Euro-Toques commissioner general Gareth Mullins and Jordan Bailey of Aimsir restaurant.
The technical skills test the 14 semi-finalists were set at Dublin Cookery School was to make a classic sabayon, to a recipe written by Shauna Froydenlund. They were given 30 minutes to do this, and then had 90 minutes to plan and create a main course using mystery ingredients – monkfish and cockles – along with extensive pantry contents supplied by competition sponsor, La Rousse Foods.
In a kitchen overseen by chef Domini Kemp, the competitors were judged on their work practice, along with the flavour and presentation of their dishes. The mystery ingredients task accounted for 75 per cent of the total, with the technical skills test making up the remainder.
Between now and the grand final on November 10th, the eight finalists will take part in a series of educational events including an overseas gourmet trip; involvement in the chefs' conference Food On The Edge, taking place in Galway, and field trips to visit Irish food producers. All 14 semi-finalists also took part in masterclasses with Froydenlund, Haugh, and another Irish chef, Kevin Burke, hosted by Kitchen Aid at its Dublin headquarters.
Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year 2019 finalists
James Dobson (Potager) mentored by Cathal Leonard
Attila Galambos (Aniar) JP McMahon
Daniel Hannigan (Mr S) Damien Grey
Karan Mittal (Ananda Restaurant) Gavin McDonagh
Grainne Mullins (Lignum) Daniel Africano
Gareth O'Brien (Bastible) Cuan Greene
Matthew Stafford (The Greenhouse) Mickael Viljanen
Alison Tierney (Dax) Graham Neville