The Valrhona Pâtisserie Championship returned to DIT Cathal Brugha Street last night for the fifth year of the biannual pastry chef competition, with Ashford Castle’s gifted pastry chef Paula Stakelum crowned champion.
Paula faced stiff competition against five fellow pastry wizards, Aideen Burke of The Portmarnock Hotel, Alane Lima Santos, Pastry Chef at L’Art Du Chocolat, Andrius Zubernis of The Brewer’s House, Karen Smith, Pastry Chef at China-Sichuan, Sandyford and María Mariano Garcia from Dromoland Castle.
In-keeping with this year’s theme of ‘Classic Revisted’, Paula presented a stunning dish of ‘Guanaja Chocolate Bavarois’, visually striking and displaying an incredible degree of technique and precision. Paula cites the estate at Ashford Castle as the inspiration for the winning dish, which took four hours to create on the day.
Odaios Foods and Valrhona Chocolate’s hotly contested competition saw Benoit Blin, Chef Pâtissier at 2 Michelin Star Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and judge on BBC2’s Bake Off: Crème De La Crème television series as head judge.
Benoit was joined by Aoife Noonan, executive Pastry Chef SMS Luna, 777 Dublin, Butcher Grill & Super Miss Sue, and Clare Fletcher, formerly Pastry at The Ritz London and 2 star Michelin Le Manoir aux Quat’Saison and now heading up The Firehouse Bakery. David Geszler, Head Pastry Chef at The Marker Hotel, and Ludovic Lantier, Executive Pastry Chef at Fade Street Social, Rustic Stone and Taste at Rustic also sat on the panel.
Paula will receive a 3 day training course (stage) in l’École du Grand Chocolat Valrhona, Tain l’Hermitage, France, including meals, accommodation and flights, dinner in a Michelin star restaurant while there, and access to the UK and Ireland selection of Valrhona’s Chocolate Chef Competition.