How Ireland is coming together to support its young chefs

From a young age, we have someone to look up to be it a parent, sibling, grandparent or someone else. They take us under their wing, hold our hand into the classroom, show us the ropes and offer advice that we can take on board for our daily lives.

Sadly, a mentor in the workplace isn’t as common as we would think. Time and responsibilities can take priority over helping a colleague and we can go from having a tutor guiding us through our final stages in college to drowning in a workplace environment.

In the food industry in Ireland, however, the desire for more young chefs has resulted in a surge in support from people in the industry. From collaborations to competitions here’s how the industry is working to eliminate the negative talk and is working to ensure young chefs are offered as much support and mentorship in the kitchen as possible.

THE COLLABORATION
Chef Chad Byrne started Chef Collab four months ago with the aim to challenge the chef shortage and remove the stigma that the kitchen is a tough place to work.

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The aim is to invite young chefs of any age or level into the kitchen and learn new skills under a team of mentors and at the end, they will produce a four-course meal for guests. It happens on the last Monday of the month and every second month it will take place in a new location, returning back to its hometown of Killarney every other month. Tickets are priced at €25 so that all costs are covered, but mentors volunteer there time and are also the servers on the night.

“I wanted to shout about the positives, and attract young chefs in,” says Byrne, and it was thanks to his own mentor, Ed Cooney, that he was inspired to start the collaboration. “The man took a chance on me and pointed me in the right way. I will always be grateful. I feel if that chance wasn’t given to me by Ed I’d be in a very different place now. That’s why it's important to have a mentor that cares and wants to do well by you. It can change your life.”

For more information on upcoming events and getting involved visits www.chefcollab.com.


THE COMPETITION

The annual Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year competition has seen continuous growth over the years to become Ireland’s premier competition for celebrating emerging culinary talent. Running over a period of months, the competition sees young chefs take on written challenges and interviews before making it to the kitchen.

Each participant will work alongside a mentor to develop and hone their skills in preparation for the semi-final where they cook for chef judges. This year the semi-final took place in Dublin Cookery School with chef judges Kevin Thornton, Gareth Mullins and Wade Murphy alongside special guest judge Tom Brown of Cornerstone in Hackney. Following a skills test in which thirteen chefs were set the task of creating a dish based on a whole turbot, six made it through to the final stages of the competition.

From here, not only will the chefs continue to work closely with their mentors in preparation for the final cooking task in November, they will also spend time visiting suppliers and producers in Ireland as well as attending workshops and educational events thanks to La Rousse Foods, Kitchen Aid and a host of other chefs to help develop their knowledge and experience in the industry.

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www.eurotoques.ie

THE EVENT
Food on the Edge will return to Galway for another year this October and see over 50 chefs and speakers, including creator and founder JP McMahon in discussion in relation to the ‘Future of Food’. The food symposium has impacted each year with its excellent speakers and their honest approach to food. It’s an environment where new and exciting ideas are born, along with meaningful conversations in relation to food and the world we live in today.

This years event will poignantly be dedicated to the late Anthony Bourdain alongside a theme on ‘Conversations’. Over the years, the event has seen a huge amount of real stories from chefs and people in the industry discussing depression, bullying and struggles in the kitchen.

The two-day symposium will see each speaker will talk for 15 minutes on their perspective on food as well as the cultural, social, environmental and educational aspects of food. Food on the Edge will also welcome the six finalists from the Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year competition on stage to discuss the future of food.

www.foodontheedge.ie

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