A group of hopeful local chefs are one step closer to discovering who will be named Chef of the Future, a new initiative for the hospitality industry organised by Henderson Foodservice with support from Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade as part of the Greater Newry Area Business Awards 2019.
Following an intensive day of cookery challenges and hot competition, four rising stars from across the district were selected to present a show-stopper three-course-meal before the panel of judges which included, culinary lecturer and experienced competition judge, Sinead Boyle, local chef, Barry Smith from Yellow Door/Hillsbourgh Castle and Geoff Baird from Henderson Foodservice.
The four individuals who impressed the judges enough to take a highly-coveted finalist spot included:
Jack Dillon – Bellinis Newry
Jason McClory – Courtneys Steakhouse
Loughie Roulston – The Yellow Heifer
Martin McMahon – Finegan & Son
While only one winner will be named Chef of the Future at the Gala Awards Ceremony in the Canal Court Hotel & Spa on Thursday 27th June and win dinner at a Michelin Starred Restaurant plus overnight accommodation, one runner-up prize of vouchers to spend at a cookery shop will be offered.
For the final heat, each competitor had to prepare, present and serve a three-course Christmas menu in under three hours, showcasing their individual skills, flair and personality along the way. Judges were looking for a perfectly balanced menu with complementary courses and finalists had to primarily use local ingredients, along with elements of the Country Range Brand which is exclusive to Henderson Foodservice, for each of the dishes prepared.
Barry Smith, one of the judges said while it was slightly unusual to be sampling a Christmas Dinner in May, all of the finalists did an exceptional job of showcasing their talent and craft.
“It is by no means an easy feat to prepare a three-course meal from scratch in a three-hour timeframe but I was impressed by how well each competitor rose to the challenge. We tasted some exciting dishes with interesting flavour combinations and it was great to see each finalist put their own, unique stamp on the Christmas day classics. Regardless of who is named the overall winner at the business awards next month, each of the four chefs should be immensely proud of their efforts and congratulated for how well they met the brief.”
Aideen O’Hagan, Account Manager with Henderson Foodservice, who organised the competition, added that it was encouraging to see so many rising stars in the industry.
“At Henderson Foodservice, not only do we provide exceptional produce and product ranges we also want to provide support for the chefs and restauranteurs who make our local culinary sector what it is. This means improving the opportunities for young chefs starting out and encouraging others into the profession. Newry and the surrounding area has a thriving hospitality industry and we have really enjoyed working with the Newry Chamber to champion some of the exceptional young talent working in restaurants and hotels across the borough. We’re looking forward to revealing the Chef of the Future and getting to know the local hospitality sector here as we continue to grow our presence in the town.”
Colm Shannon, Chief Executive Officer, Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade welcomed the fact that Henderson Foodservice is engaging so actively with customers in the Newry area and supporting the flagship event in the town’s business calendar.
“We are grateful to Henderson Foodservice for the support they have given to our event and excited to work with them to bring a new category to the awards. We believe our local bars and restaurants have some of the best young chefs in the country and initiatives such as this will help us make Newry one of Northern Ireland’s premier food destinations.”
To find out who is named Chef of the Future, follow all the action from the Greater Newry Area Business Awards 2019 on twitter using the hashtags, #COTF and #GNABusinessAwards.