The finals of the Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year competition presented by La Rousse Foods took place in the professional kitchens of Dublin Cookery School in Blackrock on Sunday November 4, with this year’s winner being revealed as Jack Lenards, a young chef mentored by Ahmet Dede of Mews.
Announced at a gala dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin on the evening of November 4, Lenards came out on top in the competition after a final skills test with a very specific brief for the last six remaining contestants.
The six Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year finalists were requested to devise two original dishes, inspired by seasonal produce including Irish venison and a selection of raw milk cheeses. Working to strengthen the relationship between chefs and producers, Euro-toques chose the 2018 competition to support the raw milk cheese campaign and champion Irish cheeses.
The Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year candidates cooked two dishes for five guest judges, chefs Liam Tomlin, Kieran Glennon, Jess Murphy, Graham Neville and Gareth Mullins, first producing a starter or a dessert based on raw milk cheese. The candidates used one or a combination of the raw goats’ cheese and sheep’s milk cheese from Silke Cropp and her son Tom’s Corleggy; Mike Thomson of Mike’s Fancy Cheese Young Buck; mature farmhouse cheese Cloonconra Aibí by James Gannon; and/or St. Tola, the soft goats’ milk cheese from Inagh Farmhouse Cheese made by Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith.
The second dish every Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year finalist produced was a main course using an Irish wild Sika venison saddle.
At the finals, judges watched the competitors at work, tasting and testing before making a decision as to which of the six of these young talents would be the competition's overall winner. The finalists were expected to use their creativity and demonstrate their cooking skills, reflecting a modern approach to the preservation of Irish culinary heritage.
The young chefs had two and a half hours to produce their two dishes, and each of them was marked under three separate headings; execution and work practice, taste and flavour, and presentation.
Lenards won the competition with a main course of roast loin of sika deer with barley risotto and Douglas fir double IPA, and a dessert of poached apple, Tawny cider sauce and grated Young Buck cheese, impressing the judges with his flair, imagination and skill in execution.
The Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year competition started in July and guided the young chefs through a culinary journey that culminated with the final and gala dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel on Sunday November 4.
The gala dinner featured canapés using Euro-toques Food Award-winning Irish ingredients produced by the shortlisted candidates, and courses created by Mickael Viljanen of The Greehouse, Ahmet Dede of Mews, Alan McArdle of Aghadoe Heights, Alberto Rossi of the Intercontinental Hotel and Darren Hogarty of Chapter One. The dinner was hosted by MCs Domini Kemp and Paul Flynn, while guest chef Liam Tomlin announced this year’s Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year, calling Lenards to the stage to receive their trophy. Lenards also received the opportunity of a stage with judge chef Liam Tomlin in his four restaurants in Cape Town, South Africa. Furthermore, Lenards will spend one week at Kruger National Park as well as receiving a KitchenAid stand mixer. Each finalist also took home a KitchenAid food processor and a set of personalised knives from Hugh Jordan.
A Celebration Of Emerging Culinary Talent
The Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year competition presented by La Rousse Foods celebrates Ireland’s emerging culinary talent. Increasingly focused on education, together with presenting partner La Rousse Foods, Euro-Toques Ireland developed a programme for this year’s competition that included workshops, demos, visits to suppliers and culinary activities including a trip to Ballymaloe House and Ballymaloe Cookery School, Food on the Edge 2018 and a surprise trip to Italy to dine in chef Riccardo Camanini’s Michelin-starred Lido 84 in its setting on the shores of Lake Garda.
Manuela Spinelli, secretary general of Euro-toques Ireland said, “On behalf of all the Euro-toques Ireland team, I would like to congratulate Jack on his achievement. The standard of talent was exceptionally high this year and all six finalists represent a bright future of Irish food.”
Open to professional chefs under the age of 26, the competition has a track record in discovering talented young chefs, with former winners including Mark Moriarty who went on to win the World San Pellegrino Young Chef Competition in 2015.
© 2018 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.