After a fierce two-hour cook-off Lee McDonagh, representing Technological University Dublin – Tallaght Campus has been crowned the KNORR Student Chef of the Year 2019, making the Tallaght campus the reigning champions for two years running.
Lee went up against seven other young student chefs from across the island of Ireland to cook up a storm and create two plates. The theme of this year’s competition, ‘Street on a Plate: a street food feast inspired by the food trucks, street stalls and farmers markets of Ireland,’ celebrates the evolving palette of the Irish population and its influence on the Irish food market. Students are marked for their creativity and interpretation of the theme as well as the presentation of each dish, food waste management and allergen awareness.
Impelled by the theme Lee impressed the judges with two tantalising dishes of ‘Lobster maki, sushi, avocado, yuzu and caviar,’ and a contemporary presentation of the classic ‘Fish and Chips with a warm tartar emulsion.’
Completing the top three was Daniel Hartigan representing Waterford Institute of Technology, who won the silver prize, and Bangaly Doumbouya from Limerick Institute of Technology in third place. Daniel created a dish comprising ‘Jalapeno Poppers, Cashel Blue, Black Pudding, Pineapple Salsa, Pepper Puree’ and a second dish of ‘Pork Carne Asada Taco, Burnt Apple, Red Onion Pickle, Avocado Foam.’
Bangaly prepared two plates. The first dish consisted of ‘Madtarbark with Prawns and Crispy King Prawn Skewers Rice Vinegar Gel/Chilli,’ while the second plate contained ‘Sticky Chicken Thigh with Noodles and Stir-Fried Vegetables.’
Overall winner Lee McDonagh shared his inspiration behind each dish, “I have a keen interest in Japanese cuisine and enjoy learning about different cultures and food traditions. My dishes were reflective of traditional street food plates, with a more modern interpretation.
“I’m lucky that my father works as a professional chef and I’ve grown up observing his love for food and passion for the industry which also provides great inspiration for my own work,” he added.
Speaking about the competition, Audrey Crone, Executive Chef Ireland at Unilever Food Solutions said, “This year marks my first KNORR Student Chef of the Year competition. The talent demonstrated by each student chef is a real testament to the training centres and institutes of Ireland and made quite an impression on the judging panel. Each competitor displayed great craftmanship and creativity in the preparation and cooking of each of their plates.
“The hospitality and food industry in Ireland is undergoing a time of upheaval with chef shortages. Today’s competition assured me that with the oncoming training chefs, the industry is in good hands. It’s also an exciting time for graduating chefs to forage their professional careers,” she added.
This year’s competition was judged by a panel comprising Unilever’s Audrey Crone and special guest judge Bobby Kerr, entrepreneur, businessman and broadcaster and Lorain Walsh, Chef Lecturer, Waterford Institute of Technology.
As well as the KNORR Student Chef of the Year title, the winner has a unique London food tour, sampling what the UK capital city has to offer in terms of produce, street food and Michelin experiences.
Other KNORR Student Chef of the Year 2019 finalists include Kieran Cleverley, Southern Regional College; Nadia Rainey, South Eastern Regional College; Kevin Buchanan, Letterkenny Institute of Technology; Gerard Fallon, Athlone Institute of Technology and Keith Craig, North West Regional College.