18th Annual Knorr Student Chef Competition Launches With New Guest Judge

By Publications Checkout
18th Annual Knorr Student Chef Competition Launches With New Guest Judge

Michelin-star chef and celebrated restaurateur Mark Sargeant is calling on Ireland’s top young chefs to enter the 18th annual Knorr Student Chef of the Year competition that will take place at Belfast Metropolitan College in February 2015.

The students will be challenged to create a menu that demonstrates strong sustainable credentials, incorporating food-waste management techniques and an appreciation of the new allergen legislation effective from 13 December.

Knorr Student Chef of the Year is the biggest competition of its kind in Ireland and allows up-and-coming student chefs to showcase their talent, love of food, creativity and innovation in front of leading food professionals.

This year, students will be asked to create a starter (vegetarian) and a main course (Irish beef), which will be evaluated in terms of creativity, practicality and effective use of Knorr products, chefmanship, composition, and presentation. Students will also be asked to explain to the judging panel the personal influence behind each of their dishes. Points will be awarded for how students express themselves through their menu, specifically their interpretation of the new allergen legislation, the sustainable credentials of their dishes and their effective use of food-waste management techniques.

Mark McCarthy, who is Business Development Chef at Unilever Food Solutions, will lead the judging panel again this year. He will be joined by a couple of new faces, including top chef and restaurateur Mark Sargeant. Mark is a former Young Chef of the Year (1996), National Chef of the Year (2002) and was Gordon Ramsay’s right-hand man for 13 years during which time he won a Michelin star as head chef of the Gordon Ramsay at Claridges.


Thomas Turley, who is chef lecturer at Belfast Metropolitan College, completes the judging panel.

Speaking at the launch of this year’s competition in Belfast, McCarthy said: "The Knorr Student Chef of the Year is such a special competition and one that we are hugely proud of at Unilever Food Solutions. This year, we have themed the competition in accordance with another of our passions – sustainability. As foodservice operators, I think it is so important that we get sustainability on the agenda for our young chefs of the future; it can only serve them well in their careers going forward.

"For me, the winning student will be as passionate about sustainability as I am, so I will be particularly interested in hearing about the sustainable credentials of their dish. I’m especially looking forward to seeing how they marry effective food-waste management with their interpretation of the new allergen legislation to create a great tasting menu.”

This year’s top prize also celebrates sustainability. Given that its culinary scene is rooted in local and sustainable produce, the winning student and their lecturer will travel to Copenhagen where they will dine in style at Noma, which regained its title this year as the No 1 Best Restaurant in the World. The winner will also enjoy a food-foraging adventure to discover firsthand why the Nordics are being dubbed the world’s sustainable food hot spot.

To support students with this year's challenge, Unilever Food Solutions recommends that the finalists reference the online toolkits that are free to download from the website, specifically its ‘Wise up on Waste’ mobile app and the interactive PDF ‘Allergen and Diets Guide for Professional Catering’.


Students must be recommended to enter by the head of their catering college, and only one student per campus can represent their college at the Knorr Student Chef of the Year final. The competition is open to second year students only from participating catering colleges, training centres and institutes of technology across the island of Ireland.

The finalist from each participating college will travel to Belfast Metropolitan College, Titanic Quarter, Belfast for the Knorr Student Chef of the Year final on Tuesday, 10 February 2015.

The closing date for applications is Friday, 23 January 2015. Visit for all competition information.