Jade Ainscough has been crowned the Knorr Student Chef of the Year 2018, following a finals competition that took place in Dundalk Institute of Technology recently.
Jade was representing Institute of Technology Tallaght, and she impressed the judges with a starter of grilled purple broccoli in harissa butter, mixed radish salad, millet croquette and parmesan shavings; with a main course of fillet of seabass, spring vegetable stew, blanket of white wine jelly and coral crisp.
Jade fought off the challenge of six other young chefs to claim the prize with her two dishes. The theme of this year’s competition was a Contemporary Take on Traditional Pub Dishes, celebrating Ireland’s first Michelin starred pub, Wild Honey Inn in Co. Clare. The students had to prepare, cook and present a vegetarian starter and a main course celebrating sustainable Irish seafood, while against the clock.
“For my dishes I researched many typical Irish pub dishes, many of which consist of quick and easy food. I wanted to carry over many of the same characteristics while adding a new twist,” said Jade.
“For the starter, I created a nutritional dish, that doesn’t compromise on taste. With my fish dish I decided to use seabass as it’s a great fish to work with, absorbs flavour easily and is different to what’s normally served in typical pub dishes.
“The dishes took the quick and easy idea, with salt and vinegar and fried elements, but equally are healthy and packed full of flavour, mimicking the classic ‘pub grub’ style,” she added.
Completing the top three were Glenn McCourt representing Dundalk Institute of Technology and Stephen Deasy, Limerick Institute of Technology.
The competition was judged by a panel comprising Mark McCarthy and special guest judge Aidan McGrath, chef patron of Wild Honey Inn. Joining the panel also were Corinna Hardgrave, food and wine writer; and Michael McNamara, Chef Lecturer, Dundalk Institute of Technology.
Unilever Food Solutions Business Development Chef, Mark McCarthy, said: “The student chefs are coming through college at an interesting time in the hospitality sector and the talent demonstrated in the competition proves our future kitchens are in safe culinary hands.
“The entrants year on year are testament to the Irish food industry and education centres. They are the very reason why Knorr Student Chef of the Year prevails as one of the country’s top culinary competitions.”