The winner of the Euro-Toques Ireland Young Chef of the Year competition for 2018 is Jack Lenards, from Kilcoole, Co Wicklow. The 22-year-old was one of six finalists taking part in the concluding round of the competition, which was held at Dublin Cookery School in Blackrock, followed by a prizegiving dinner at the InterContinental hotel in Ballsbridge.
Jack works at Mews restaurant in Baltimore, one of three Co Cork establishments recently bestowed with Michelin stars, and was mentored for the competition by the restaurant’s head chef, Ahmet Dede.
The Dublin Institute of Technology graduate was also a finalist in the competiton last year, when he was working as a chef de partie at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.
Jack wins an expenses-paid trip to South Africa, where he will have an opportunity to work with Dublin-born chef Liam Tomlin, who has four restaurants in Capetown, and who was the guest judge for this year’s final. Lenards will also have the opportunity to spend a week at the Kruger National Park, working at the Singita game resereve.
The Euro-Toques Young Chef competition has been underway since July, and to reach the final, competitors had to submit written work and attend an interview, followed by a semi-final round for the top 14, which involved a cooking skills and techniques task.
For the final round of the competition, the remaining six candidates had to cook two original dishes, a main course using Irish wild venison, and a starter or dessert made with a selection of Irish raw milk cheeses. They had 2.5 hours to cook, and were marked under three separate headings - execution and work practice, taste and flavour, and presentation.
The judging panel was composed of Tomlin, along with Kieran Glennon, head chef at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud; Euro-Toques Ireland commissioner general Graham Neville, of Dax restaurant; Gareth Mullins, executive chef at The Marker hotel, and Irish Times Magazine food columnist Jess Murphy, of Kai in Galway.
The winner cooked a main course of roast loin of Sika deer with barley risotto and Douglas fir double IPA, and a dessert of poached apple, tawny cider sauce and grated Young Buck cheese.