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Exclusive Interview: Gareth Mullins, Euro-Toques Commissioner General

As covered already by Food for Thought – FFT.ie, chef Gareth Mullins has been recently appointed as the new Euro-Toques Commissioner General, taking over the role from Graham Neville who held the position for the previous three years.

Gareth has over 20 years’ experience cooking in five star hotels in Ireland and Australia, and most recently has been at the Marker Hotel, Dublin, since it opened in 2013.

Euro-Toques was founded in 1986 by a number of chefs from across Europe, notably including Myrtle Allen from Ireland and Paul Bocuse from France, and today represents over 3,500 chefs in 16 European countries. Euro-Toques Ireland itself consists of almost 200 of the country’s best known chefs, producers and educators.

Gareth joins at a time of unprecedented change in the industry, where old walls are being broken down and the structures that have guided kitchens in Europe for over a century are becoming increasingly part of a bygone era.

We decided to speak to Gareth about what he intends to bring to the role, what his background is and what the position actually entails, as well as key issues that are currently having a large impact on the industry in general.

FFT.ie: Tell us a bit about your background.
Gareth Mullins: I qualified from DIT Cathal Brugha Street in 1999, after which I spent five years in Sydney where I worked as Head Chef at the W Hotel and as Senior Chef de Partie in the Radisson Plaza Hotel. I then spent seven years in the Merrion Hotel Dublin as Head Chef in The Cellar Restaurant & Bar before joining the team at The Marker Hotel when it opened in 2013 where I currently still work as Executive Chef.

How do you feel about your appointment as Euro-Toques Commissioner General?
I am very excited about my recent appointment as Commissioner General of Euro-toques Ireland, a position held for the past three years by Graham Neville, Head Chef at Dax Restaurant. My main focus as the new Commissioner General will be on the continued growth of the organisation, focusing on the ethos and beliefs set out by Mrs Allen to protect our culinary heritage and inspire the future generations. In this sense we will continue to evolve the Young Chef of the Year competition, as well the Food Awards which are our two key events of the year and represent our mission and vision.

What will you bring to the role?
The role of Commissioner General is a learning process, which is why we have a shadowing system in place that allows potential candidates to work alongside the current Commissioner General during his/her term. I am naturally a very organised person and I enjoy the decision-making process. However, running Euro-Toques Ireland is about finding the right balance between everybody’s opinion, in the interest of the association, not an easy task, but a challenge I welcome. Tradition and continuity are a great part of what Euro-Toques stand for but we also need to move with the times and be progressive.

Did you apply for the role?  What was the process involved?
Euro-Toques Ireland is members’ association. All roles within the organisation are voluntary and require the support of the Board and the members.

What are your plans for the future with the organisation? 
My aim is to continue with the work we have started, championing Irish food by growing our spirit of community, creating stronger relationships between chefs and producers in each region of the country and providing a platform for young chefs to learn, grow and develop their career according to the ethos of the organisation. Our two key events the Food Awards and The Young Chef of the Year competition are continuously growing in stature and we are determined to grow them even more, nationally and internationally, in order to showcase the best of Irish and put Ireland firmly on the world culinary map.

I enjoy my position as Executive Chef at the Marker Hotel, Dublin and I wish to continue growing in this position and developing the hotel’s food story.

How is the organisation important to Irish hospitality?
Euro-Toques Ireland is a members’ association of like-minded chefs and cooks. We welcome chefs from all corners of the industry who share our ethos and philosophy. These are the only determining factors in becoming a member. Those who choose to come on board do so as they are passionate about our work, our values and our objectives. We also welcome producers amongst our associate members. Integrity and support of our culinary heritage and traditions are fundamental criteria for all members.

What changes have occurred in the industry that you feel need to be addressed?
The industry is constantly evolving and we need to evolve with it. We are focused on action and aim at reflecting our members’ collective ideas.

How do you plan on fostering relationships between chefs and local producers in Ireland?
The relationship between chefs and producers is a core pillar of our association. The Food Awards ceremony was traditionally a small affair. Last year we decided turn it into a real opportunity for chefs to meet producers. We invited all nominees and all former winners and thanks to our member chef Philippe Farineau who committed to bringing the awards to Ashford Castle, the event was the most successful to date, with over 150 participants between chefs and producers. This year the Food Awards will be hosted by Richard Corrigan at Virginia Park Lodge on 27th May.

As well as reviewing the awards categories, Euro-toques Ireland have designed a sixth special award for outstanding contribution which can be commended to a chef, a producer or an advocate for Irish food and hospitality. This as an annual award which will be renamed as the Myrtle Allen Award, in honour of our founder member.

Our Food Council has also created a calendar of activities including a Chefs Meet Producers #chefsmeetproducers series, with farm visits, tastings and workshops. There’s also From Farm to Table and From Sea to Tabl events all over the country and four producer driven awareness campaigns as follows: June 2019: Honey #whosyourhoney, October 2019: Wild Game #howsyourgame, Jan 2020: Hogget #thewholehogget and March 2020: Mackerel #holymackerel.

When you start travelling the country it is incredible to see the amazing bounty at our disposal!

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