Ashford Castle Chef Reaches Final Of International Valrhona C3 Competition

By Dave Simpson
Ashford Castle Chef Reaches Final Of International Valrhona C3 Competition

Ashford Castle has announced that executive pastry chef Paula Stakelum has become the first Irish pastry chef to the reach the final of the international Valrhona C3 Competition 2018.

In October of this year, Stakelum will face seven top pastry chefs from around the world at the C3 International Final in Brooklyn, New York, for the chance to claim the title of C3 Champion.

Having won the fifth bi-annual Valrhona Patisserie Championship in Ireland in May of last year, Stakelum competed in the regional semi-finals of the Valrhona C3 Competition in Versailles, France, on Thursday March 1 against peers from the UK, Poland, Belgium and Austria. The C3 Competition is a biennial competition, established in 2008 and now in its fifth edition.

Over the course of a five and a half hour trial, contestants were tasked with making an original and creative plated dessert recipe along with a moulded chocolate bonbon. The theme was Manjari Grand Cru de Madagascar using Manjari 64%, the dark couverture chocolate from Valrhona’s Grand Cru de Terroir range.

Stakelum’s winning dish – Ashford Estate Pine 2017 with Estate Crab Apple – was designed as a celebration of the Ashford Estate and of Madagascar. Using pine tips foraged on the Ashford Estate during her morning runs, Paula created an aromatic pine-infused oil which she incorporated into her dessert. The Bonbon element of the dish was created using sloe gin and wild hazelnuts; sloes foraged on the Estate were infused with Shortcross Gin.

Commenting on her award, Stakelum said, “I put my heart and soul into my craft so I am thrilled and honoured to be the first Irish pastry chef to reach the International C3 Competition. I am so lucky to have been given the time and support of the amazing Ashford Castle team to compete, and I look forward to representing the hotel and Ireland at the finals in October. This win was definitely inspired by the Estate.”