Andrew Reddan representing Dundalk Institute of Technology has been crowned Knorr Student Chef of the Year 2017 after a thrilling cook off hosted by Cork Institute of Technology. Not only did Andrew overcome a challenging theme set out by Knorr, he also successfully fought off the challenge of ten other rising stars to claim the top prize.
It is a particularly special and milestone year for the competition. Celebrating its 20th year in 2017, Knorr Student Chef of the Year, the most celebrated student chef competition, is open to catering colleges, institutes of technology and training centres across the island of Ireland.
The theme of this year’s competition is ‘Provenance: The story behind the menu’ and is focused on celebrating Irish produce. This year’s competition was judged by a panel comprising Unilever Food Solutions’ Business Development Chef, Mark McCarthy. He was joined by special guest judge and winner of the National Chef of the Year by the UK’s Craft Guild of Chefs, James Devine. Joining the panel also were Fergal O’Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of the Coeliac Society of Ireland and Ann O’ Connor, Chef Lecturer, Cork Institute of Technology.
Students were challenged to create a starter using Irish seafood and a main course celebrating Irish beef. Students were also asked to demonstrate an understanding of the challenges of culinary sustainability, food waste management and allergen awareness.
Andrew impressed the judges with his starter of Irish sea bass with Carlingford mussel ragout with lemon and curd curd and mint risotto.
For his main course, he served a ‘Tasting of beef’, which comprised seared sirloin, cheek croquette, bonemarrow crumb with carmelised celeriac puree.
Andrew explains the story behind his menu: “the dishes were inspired by my experience as a fisherman, fishing off the east coast of Ireland in a little village called Baltray. I’m also a keen supporter of local producers.
“The concept of the dishes is trying to combine food, science and art to create dishes full of culture, history and modern techniques, while using local, seasonal produce sourced on my doorstep.”
Speaking at the awards presentation, Mark McCarthy said: “The KNORR Student Chef of the Year competition is an ideal platform for the country’s brightest talents to not only demonstrate their culinary flair and talent, but to also develop new skills that are certain to serve them well as they embark on what I am confident will be long, successful careers.
“The greatest challenge for everyone in the foodservice industry, and indeed those starting out, is that it constantly changes. This is why we ask our student chef finalists to not only think about the story behind their dishes, but to also tackle some of the current issues that are facing the industry, whether this is adapting to dietary requirements and awareness or cooking for more ingredient-aware palates.
“These competition requirements also ensure the relevancy and prominence of the KNORR Student Chef of the Year over the past 20 years. I’m also happy to report that all our students created wonderful menus this year, while also meeting our challenge excellently. I feel inspired and confident that the future of our foodservice industry is in safe hands.”
Guest judge, James Devine added: “The standard of entries this year was extremely high for the special anniversary. There is so much talent on the island and KNORR Student Chef of the Year is a wonderful way of recognising the creative thinking and innovative ideas of the next generation of top-class chefs. I was really impressed by how important making menus adaptable to a wide array of dietary requirements was to the students.“
As well as the much-coveted KNORR Student Chef of the Year title, the winner will receive a fantastic culinary experience in New York. On the first night, the winner will dine in the chic surroundings of the multi award winning and three-starred Michelin restaurant, Eleven Madison Park. They will also get an opportunity to take a unique food tour of The Big Apple, the ultimate way to experience the best of food and culture from a local’s perspective.
Completing the top three was Kyle Lynch from Cork Institute of Technology and Daniel Lenihan from Athlone Institute of Technology who finished in second and third place respectively. The hygiene award was presented to Susannah Doupe from Letterkenny Institute of Technology.