NI Chef Of The Year Finalists Announced Ahead Of IFEX

By Robert McHugh
NI Chef Of The Year Finalists Announced Ahead Of IFEX

Some of Ireland’s most skilled chefs are set to go head to head next week, for the chance to be crowned the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Northern Ireland Chef of the Year during IFEX 2024, which is taking place at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast.

Running from 5 to 7 March, IFEX is the region’s premier food, drink, retail and hospitality trade event, which will shine a spotlight on the latest industry technologies, innovative ideas and new-product launches, alongside discovering and nurturing some of the country’s most talented chefs.

Great Taste Market

Set to attract approximately 7,000 visitors across three days, IFEX is home to a range of features, including the Great Taste Market, the Northern Ireland Hospitality Core Skills Hub, the IFEX Coffee Festival and Salon Culinaire Belfast, which will play host to a number of competitions, as well as the prestigious DAERA Northern Ireland Chef of the Year.

Judging Panel

Previously won by industry stalwarts such as Michael Deane, Chris Bell, Roisin Gavin and Paul Cunningham, the following competitors will be required to plate up a three-course menu under the watchful eye of the judging panel:

David Joyce, AIB Molesworth Street, Dublin;
Patrick Mills, University Hospital Galway;
Ben Armstrong, Old Barn Catering, Markethill, County Armagh;
Aislinn Thomson, Killeavy Castle Estate, Slieve Gullion, County Armagh;
Ryan Finnegan, Great Jones, Newcastle, County Down; and
Dean Rabillat, Flame, Belfast.


Industry Support

Returning with a wealth of industry support from Hospitality Ulster, the Federation of Small Business NI, Retail NI, the NI Hotels Federation, the Guild of Fine Food, Chef Network, the Restaurants Association of Ireland and the NI Takeaway Association, the 2024 DAERA Northern Ireland Chef of the Year will be announced next Wednesday, 6 March, and awarded with the trophy during a special VIP reception later that evening.

A trade-only event, IFEX 2024 is taking place from 5 to 7 March. The show opens daily at 10am and runs until 6pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, and to 4pm on Thursday.

If you’d like to attend, simply register for your free ticket at