Gary O’Hanlon, representing Ireland, is the 2012 Celtic Cook off Champion
An audience of over 200 food enthusiasts packed the ballroom of the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen on Wednesday 12th September and watched enthralled as six top chefs representing Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, the Isle of Man, Wales and Cornwall cooked their best to win the 2012 Celtic Cook Off.
Each chef prepared three plates of their chosen dish within a half hour time limit using West Cork food plus one wild card ingredient of their own choosing. Charles Searson of Searson’s Wines offered wine notes for each dish and John McKenna of The Bridgestone Guides acted as MC for the evening. Ingredients for their dishes had been chosen by the chefs earlier in the day from a special West Cork Producers’ Market held in the Hotel.
Student chefs were on hand throughout the day to help and to act as commis for the contestants, Tadhg Evans from Tralee Institute of Technology who is to graduate this October with a Higher Certificate In Culinary Arts, worked alongside the winner Gary O Hanlon. Tadgh added the experience and contacts he gained from that day alone will stand him in good stead for his future as a Chef. He is currently working in the Wild Garlic restaurant in Kenmare.
Dishes were judged by three tables of two judges each including Tim Anderson, BBC MasterChef Winner 2011 and Roy Brett of the Ondine Restaurant in Edinburgh who was last year’s Celtic Cook Off winner.
Gary’s winning dish was loin of lamb with wild artichoke, smoked tomato, crisp bone marrow and sweetened garlic. The judges did not have an easy task, but after much deliberation they announced a win for Ireland and the man from Longford.
This year’s competitors were:
Scotland: Edinburgh born, Tony Singh has established himself as a leading force on the Scottish restaurant scene as co-founder of Oloroso, the highly acclaimed bar and restaurant in the heart of Scotland’s dynamic capital city.
Brittany: Stephane Delourme has worked at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow for over a decade. He joined Rick and Jill Stein as head chef at their flagship establishment when he moved to Cornwall in 1998.
Isle of Man: Butch Buttery, one-time owner of Tanroagan now has a business installing restaurant kitchens; he also cooks for exhibitions and private functions as well as being chef and recipe consultant for the Manx Organic Network and Island Seafood’s.
Ireland: Gary O’Hanlon set up VM @ Viewmount House in Co. Longford in 2008. A beautiful Georgian Manor house once owned by Lord Longford with the Restaurant in the converted stables. Awards since then include Georgina Campbell’s "Sunday Lunch of the Year" 2012
Wales: Ian Bennett of The Welcome to Town Restaurant on the rugged and beautiful Gower Peninsula. Ian gathers in a cornucopia of local produce from seafood to salt marsh lamb to pork & beef executing his dishes simply with a contemporary touch!
Cornwall: Jack Stein of The Seafood Restaurant, one-time sous chef at the restaurant now has a tournant role across the whole company and is currently the Head of Development, leading the introduction of a development kitchen for the business, where new recipes and ingredients will be tested.