Galway hosts final for best young chef in Europe award

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The final of the European Young Chef Award 2018 took place last night in Galway as part of Galway, West of Ireland’s designation as a 2018 European Region of Gastronomy (ERoG).

Galway was the first region in Ireland to hold this award, and the year-long programme’s key goal was to draw attention to the food industry in Galway and how central it is to the present and future.

Hosting the prestigious European Young Chef Award has built on the wide-ranging and vibrant programme of events, festivals, projects and initiatives which have taken place throughout the year as part of the Galway, West of Ireland ERoG 2018.

Programme co-ordinator for ERoG, Galway, Elaine Donohue said: “The ERoG designation has been hugely important for paving the way for the future of food in Galway city and county.

“Every inch of our regional fabric is woven with a strong rooted food culture right through from farm to fork and from our heritage right through to our modern day engagement with food .

“Hosting the European Young Chef Award in Galway has been a fantastic culmination to the year’s programme of events, which has provided an opportunity for the next generation of innovative chefs to learn, grow and flourish – aptly tying into our theme of ‘From the Ground Up, Feeding Our Future’.

“It has been fantastic for competing chefs to get a first-hand experience of our region’s rich food industry and heritage.”

The European Young Chef Award aims to promote culinary innovation using traditional cuisine and local produce, highlight sustainable food cultures and inspire future ambassadors for the Regions of Gastronomy in Europe.

Dr. Diane Dodd, President of International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism, said: “Galway was chosen as the hosts for this year’s competition in recognition of the wonderful local food enthusiasts producing innovative products across the region and of course, for the high quality hospitality training provided by our hosts for the event, GMIT.

“We’re honoured to be here and I know that the food experts from around Europe that will be attending will be deeply impressed by this hidden gem that is a true European Region of Gastronomy.”

The event provided participants with the opportunity to learn about the gastronomic heritage of different regions, and saw the young chefs showcase traditional dishes and local food products from their own region as well as compete for the title of European Young Chef 2018 by creating an innovative version of a dish which is traditional to their region.

Galway chef Aisling Rock held the title from last year’s awards which took place in Barcelona, while Andreas Bjerring from Aarhus-Central Denmark, European Region of Gastronomy was announced as the European Young Chef 2018, with his dish ‘Memory of my Childhood’ which was an  innovative take on the traditional Danish recipe ‘Larded Apples’.

Ireland’s 2018 representative, Galway chef and final year student in the GMIT Culinary Arts programme, Andrew Ishmael, served his signature dish of beetroot-cured mackerel with horseradish panna cotta, pickled shallot and fennel, which is a twist on the classic combination of mackerel with horseradish cream.

The panel comprised of leading chefs and international experts, including Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur JP McMahon, judged the dishes based on their innovation, taste, presentation and cleanliness.

The judging panel commented that they were very impressed with this year’s standard, and head judge JP McMahon highlighted the interesting storytelling which came from all of the contestants’ presentations and cooking.

The competition saw contestants from Ireland, Portugal, Catalonia, Romania, Slovenia, Italy, Finland and The Netherlands compete for the title of European Young Chef 2018.

The European Young Chef Award was organised by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Art and Tourism (IGCAT) in collaboration with key partners in the Regions of Gastronomy.

The European Young Chef Award was hosted by the four key European Region of Gastronomy 2018 partners: Galway County Council, Galway City Council, GMIT and Teagasc.