IT Tralee Students takes Second Prize in the National Knorr Student Chef of the Year Competition Keith Pigott from IT Tralee, took 2nd Prize in the 15th annual Knorr Student Chef of the Year competition after a closely fought cook off.
On Thursday, 23rd February 2012 Keith Pigott from IT Tralee took second prize in the hotly contested 2012 Knorr Student Chef of the Year final after a thrilling cook off at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). The cook off saw twelve of Irelandâ€™s most talented student chefs from culinary colleges across the country go head-to-head in a tightly fought contest. Shane Deane, from CIT, was eventually crowned winner, with Keith, from IT Tralee, securing the much coveted silver medal.
Celebrating its 15th year in 2012, Knorr Student Chef of the Year remains the biggest competition of its kind in Ireland and is an excellent opportunity for chefs of the future to showcase their talent, love of food, creativity and innovation, not to mention their innate culinary creativity, in front of some of Ireland's leading food professionals. Previous winners have gone on to enjoy successful careers in many of Ireland and Europe's top restaurants.
Speaking at the final cook off, Mark McCarthy, Business Development Chef, Unilever Food Solutions said: "Once again, Knorr Student Chef of the Year has showcased the incredible talent coming through the ranks of Ireland's catering colleges. The standard of food in Ireland has been improving year-on-year and, judging by the calibre of chefs here today, the future remains bright. Not only did all twelve finalists show great creativity, confidence and ability in their cooking, but they also demonstrated a keen appreciation and knowledge of Irish food and culinary traditions. All were deserving finalists."
The theme of the 2012 competition was Irish Fusion and students had just two hours to create a starter and main course, taking inspiration from different regional cuisines around Ireland and using at least two Knorr products. The starter dish also had to demonstrate a taste of the sea to complement the skills and interest of guest judge, Martin Shanahan, presenter of the television series, Martin's Mad About Fish and Martin's Still Mad About Fish and chef Proprietor of the award-winning fish restaurant, Fishy Fishy, in Kinsale, Co Cork.
Not succumbing to the pressure of the cook off, the twelve finalists prepared an exceptionally high standard of dishes each dish was judged on its creativity, practicality and effective use of ingredients, while students were also marked on how successfully they expressed their individual influences through their menu.
For his starter, Keith prepared 'A West Coast Rock Pool' which consisted of a lobster consommé with seared scallop with mussels, clams and periwinkles served with a mussel foam and dillisk, while his main course consisted of slow-braised beef cheek, beef tongue colcannon and tripe and leek pie served with root vegetable puree and whiskey jus. Both dishes were highly commended by the judging panel. Chef Daniel Browne from the HCT department at IT Tralee who mentored and work closely with Keith throughout his preparation for the competition said " that after what was a very close competition, and with such a high standard of food presented, that he was delighted to see all of Keith's hard work and determination being rewarded with such high recognition."
Making up the judging panel was Unilever Food Solutions Business Development Chef, Mark McCarthy; Chef Lecturer, Cork Institute of Technology, Ciarán Scully, and guest judge Martin Shanahan, Chef Proprietor of the award-winning fish restaurant, Fishy Fishy, in Kinsale, Co Cork, and presenter of the television series, Martin's Mad About Fish and Martin's Still Mad About Fish.
Reflecting on the competition, Martin said: "There's a wealth of talented young chefs coming through the ranks of Ireland's culinary schools, and it is wonderful to see them use this competition as a platform for demonstrating their undeniable talent and creativity. The calibre of their dishes was particularly impressive and all twelve students deserve high recognition for their efforts today."
Joining Keith on the list of prize winners was overall winner, Shane Deane from CIT, whose first place prize included a food photography experience with famed food photographer, Gareth Morgan's, and an evening of gastronomic greatness at Heston Blumenthal's multi-award winning, The Fat Duck Restaurant. Roisin Ni Shuilleabhain Haughton from Limerick IT finished in third place. Roisin also won the 2012 Knorr Student Chef of the Year Hygiene award.