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Bia sasta with elke

Wednesday, 4th February, 2015 6:52pm

The magazine Le Chef recently asked 500 chefs across the world who the best chefs, in their eyes, were.

Each chef had to give five names and a list of the 100 best chefs in the world was compiled. France had most chefs in the top 100 (big surprise), while Ireland had none.

A while ago, I ranted about the fact that the list of the best 100 restaurants didn't include any Irish ones and I am still gobsmacked that Ireland doesn't seem to be on the food map. To my big surprise, Japan and Hong Kong had each 12 positions of the 100; while France was top with 31.

Considering that Norway just won Gold in the Bocuse d'Or (basically the Olympics for chefs), no chef from Norway was on the list. I wasn't asked for my nominations but Irish chefs like Kevin Thornton (at least his restaurant made it to the 100 one year), Ross Lewis and Derry Clarke should have been amongst them. Rene Redzepi, whose restaurant Noma won best restaurant last year, was not in the top 10 but was moved to the top 50 - so I'm not sure if the fact that the French magazine Le Chef did the survey had anything to do with it.

And speaking of Bocuse d'Or, this world chef cooking competition was founded by Paul Bocuse, the grandmaster of cooking and co-founder of Euro-Toque. The gold medal went to Norway who won the award five times.

The contest starts 18 months prior to the final with national and intercontinental selection processes. The final takes place live in front of an audience and takes five and-a-half hours to complete.

A jury of highly decorated chefs has to decide the worthy winner. The photos of the final dishes were simply mind-blowing and I have to admit, my cooking abilities (as excellent as they might be in my home kitchen) will never reach that level of perfection.

Norway has shown consistency over the last few competitions with amazing creativity and a high level of techniques. Unfortunately, Ireland didn't take part in the contest. I would have loved to see how our chefs could have competed against the best.

One competition where Ireland has a voice is the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 Awards. Four brave young chefs represent Ireland this year. Maria Elena Martinez Otero of Four Seasons Hotel, Mark Moriarty of The Culinary Counter, Sarunas Godovan of Tankardstown House and Stephen Holland of Lough Erne Resort have mastered the first round and have to face now some tough challenges to compete against chefs from 191 countries.

 The standard of cooking is amazingly high. I have seen Mark Moriarty cooking during the Euro-Toque Young Chef competition and if his last efforts are anything to go by, the judges will be in for a treat.

Our four talented chefs are now in competition for a spot in the last 20 chefs for the final in June during the Expo Milano. 3,620 participants are fighting for the title in the first round. The second round consists of 20 challenges in front of a local jury - and this jury is intimidating.

The jury for Ireland & UK includes Clare Smyth who is the first British woman (she is from Northern Ireland) to win and hold on to three Michelin stars; Oliver Dunne who has one Michelin star for his restaurant Bon Appetit in Dublin; Atul Kochhar, the first Indian chef to win a Michelin star and Daniel Doherty, a rising star in the London restaurant scene. I would not like to cook for these culinary giants to get through to the next round.

It is in the hand of our brave four chefs to put Ireland on the culinary map and who knows, we might see one of these names in the top 100 list soon. I wish all four chefs luck in the challenges ahead and hope to see them in the final.

Whats on:

6 February RNLI Fundraiser Dinner at Ballymaloe House (Co. Cork)

6 February Annam Supper Club (Cork)

7-8 February Weston A Price Foundation International Food Conference (Limerick)

13-15 February Franciscan Well Winter Ales & Cask Ales Festival (Cork City)  

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