Last week DIT’s Fiona Drought was crowned the Knorr Student Chef of the Year for 2014. After a two-hour test at DIT’s Cathal Brugha Street campus Fiona, understandably at home in the surroundings, emerged as the champion.
Competing against 13 other junior chefs, Wexford native Fiona’s main course of a venison trio wowed a judging panel that included TV chef Catherine Fulvio.
The theme of this year’s contest was Wise up on Food Waste to mark the European Year Against Food Waste. The finalists were tasked with using sustainably sourced ingredients and limiting the amount of food waste generated.
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Fiona’s main course stood out before her dessert – part of the ‘mystery basket’ aspect of the competition whereby chefs were given a number of surprise ingredients the morning of the event for their own creation – saw her come home ahead of Gareth O’Brien from Dundalk Institute of Technology and Carren Simpson from Waterford Institute of Technology.
Fiona is currently doing a Culinary Entrepreneurship course at DIT, having studied her craft in WIT a few years back. After a spell in Australia and positions in the likes of The Shelbourne and Dunbrody House, Fiona is now looking at the commerce behind cheffing ahead of one day, perhaps, owning her own business.
“To win this competition is a dream come true for me and I’m delighted that all the preparation and hard work I put into it paid off. Both dishes I created came from the heart and I think that the personal influence in both helped them to stand out. The standard was really high this year and I know that my fellow competitors and I will all benefit from their experience in taking part in a competition such as this. I’m really looking forward to going to Italy now and continuing on my culinary adventure.”
Knorr Student Chef of the Year 2014 Finalists:
Steven Holmes, Northern Regional College
Gareth O’Brien, Dundalk IT
Aaron O’Brien, IT Tralee
Michael Hanlon, IT Tallaght
Peter Rowland, South Regional College, Portadown
Conor Keegan, South West College, Enniskillen
Grainne Kerr, North West Regional College, Derry/Londonderry
Dudley Pankhurst, South Regional College, Newry
Jeff Murphy, Cork IT
Carren Simpson, Waterford IT
Jonathan Moore, Belfast Metropolitan College
Fiona Drought, DIT Cathal Brugha Street
Darren Dreeling, Defence Forces School of Catering
Lee McMullen, GMIT