The future is certainly bright for our young Irish chefs as yesterday saw 21 year old Aisling Rock take the prestigious title of European Young Chef 2017 in Barcelona. The international competition is organized and promoted by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Art and Tourism (IGCAT) and the leading Hospitality and Culinary Arts school in Spain, EUHT StPOL, where the final was held.
A Culinary Arts student at GMIT, Aisling beat off competition from seven other accomplished student chefs to take the title. Creating dishes to meet the brief of promoting innovation on traditional cuisine from each chef’s own region and highlight sustainable food cultures, Aisling’s Mackerel, Pickle and Sheep’s Yoghurt dish came out on top.
With mentors Jacinta Dalton, Head of Culinary Arts at GMIT and last year’s Irish entrant to the competition Shane Sheedy on her side, Aisling impressed judges with her innovative take on the traditional recipe of salted mackerel with root vegetables and potatoes, prepared using fish preserved with a curing method form the gastronomic heritage of her region and seasonal, locally grown vegetables.
The judges, including Greek celebrity chef Argiro Barbarigou ,felt that a taste of the strong sheep farming tradition of Galway was conveyed by sheep yoghurt. Aisling explained to the jury that she aimed to allow them to “experience my story and my region through my food.”
The jury not only considered the taste and aesthetics of the dish, but they also assessed the level of innovation with respect to the traditional recipe, the use and valorisation of local products and the creative narrative of the dish’s cultural connections to the region, which Aisling successfully communicated during her presentation.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Rock revealed that her dish had incorporated ingredients from artisan producers from the west of Ireland such as Velvet Cloud, Mary’s Fish and Achill Sea Salt to reflect the region’s rich gastronomic tradition.
Congratulations to Aisling and all at GMIT on this outstanding achievement – all eyes will be on Galway next year as it embraces its 2018 European Region of Gastronomy title.
For more information on the European Young Chef competition click here.