Stephen Deasy, representing Limerick Institute of Technology, has been awarded third place at this year’s KNORR Student Chef of the Year, after an intense two-hour cook-off that took place in Dundalk Institute of Technology.
The theme of this year’s competition was a ‘Contemporary Take on Traditional Pub Dishes’ to celebrate Ireland’s first Michelin starred pub, Wild Honey Inn in County Clare. The students had to prepare, cook and present a vegetarian starter and a main course celebrating sustainable Irish seafood, while against the clock.
Stephen impressed the judges with a starter of ‘St Tola Goats Cheese Mousse, Onion and Rhubarb Rhubarb Chutney, Pesto, Brioche Crumb and Pepper Isomalt.’ His main course comprised ‘Man of Aran Chowder, Pan Fried Hake, Chowder Sauce, Crab Croquettes, Smoked Foam and Dill Potato Crisp’
Stephen’s menu was inspired by his local surroundings and ingredients of his home county. Stephen set out to explore the texture of the St Tola goats cheese, complementing it with opposing flavours. His main incorporated local ingredients and was inspired by his grandfather, one of the first to operate ferries from Dodin to the Aran Islands.
Commenting on the experience Stephen said, “It has been great competing in this year’s KNORR Student Chef of the Year Competition. I enjoyed cooking for the judges and receiving their feedback while also seeing how fellow students interpreted the theme and the dishes they served.”
Jade Ainscough of Institute of Technology Tallaght took the overall prize while Glenn McCourt of Dundalk Institute of Technology was awarded second place.
Jade’s starter featured ‘Millet croquette with broccoli while her main had seabass with a ‘classic’ stew element and white wine jelly’. Jade was inspired to create a menu which mimicked the characteristics of traditional ‘pub grub’ but provided excellent nutritional value.
Glenn’s inspiration for his starter came from his determination to create a vegetarian dish full of flavour. His main course was a contemporary take on traditional fish and chips.
Speaking about the competition, Unilever Food Solutions Business Development Chef Mark McCarthy said, “The student chefs are coming through college at an interesting time in the hospitality sector and the talent demonstrated in the competition proves our future kitchens are in safe culinary hands.
“The entrants year on year are a testament to the Irish food industry and education centres. They are the very reason why KNORR Student Chef of the Year prevails as one of the country’s top culinary competitions.”
This year’s competition was judged by a panel comprising Mark McCarthy and special guest judge Aidan McGrath, chef patron of Wild Honey Inn, Ireland’s first Michelin starred pub. Joining the panel also were Corinna Hardgrave, food and wine writer and Michael McNamara, Chef Lecturer, Dundalk Institute of Technology.
As well as the KNORR Student Chef of the Year title, the winner has a unique Wild Atlantic Way tour and will dine in Galway’s Michelin starred restaurants, Anair and Loam. The tour concludes in County Clare with a visit to Wild Honey Inn, Ireland’s first Michelin starred pub in the heart of the Burren region, owned and run by prominent chef and competition judge, Aidan McGrath.
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