David Fountain, head chef for Sodexo at PayPal in Dundalk, was the winner of very first ‘Sodexo Challenge at F&B Live” on Tuesday 11 February 2014 at CityWest, Dublin. Derek Reilly, executive chef for Sodexo Ireland, commissioned Michelin-starred chef Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivain restaurant, a consultant for the company, to set a culinary challenge for six of its 500-strong chef team.
For the Challenge, the chefs had to replicate some of Derry Clarke’s signature dishes yet add their own personal twist and style to it. They were Dennis McCarroll at Almac, Craigavon; Timothy O’Connor at Aughinish Alumina, Limerick; Diarmuid Murphy at EMC, Cork; Bartek Piatek at Leo Pharma, Dublin; Eoin Murtagh at Davy, Dublin and David Fountain at PayPal, Dundalk.
David Fountain scooped first place and a gold for his king scallops & black pudding starter with pickled baby vegetables, spiced pear, apple puree and quail egg, followed by a pan-seared duck breast with fois gras croquette, beetroot relish, navet, kale and butternut puree. His dessert was a pineapple and fennel soufflé with a vanilla ricotta, braised fennel and confit pineapple.
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The Challenge was judged by Derry Clarke and L’Ecrivain’s pastry chef Michael Hunter. According to the judges, David won because of ‘the combination of flavours and balance throughout the three dishes, his innovative use of the ingredients laid down from Derry and while he added a modern twist, he also really stamped his own personality on every dish – it was cooking from the heart!”
Derek Reilly said, “The skill shown by our chefs was on another level as they produced innovative, seasonal dishes with well-balanced flavours and their presentations were both refined and tasteful. Derry Clarke commented that any of them would be worthy of a place on his menu in L'Ecrivain.” Sodexo Ireland is a leading provider of food and facilities management services, delivering on-site service solutions to clients in business and industry, education, financial services and healthcare. It employs approximately 1,800 staff in 200 locations across Ireland and spends almost €19 million annually on local Irish food.
Picture: Challenge winner David Fountain, second from left, pictured with Derek Reilly, executive chef, Sodexo Ireland, Margot Slattery, managing director and Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivain restaurant in Dublin.