Cameron cooks up a storm at KNORR contest

Cameron Ashcroft, Northern Regional College (Ballymoney campus) and his two dishes from the cook off. INBM9-16
Cameron Ashcroft, Northern Regional College (Ballymoney campus) and his two dishes from the cook off. INBM9-16

BALLYMONEY student Cameron Ashcroft has won a special award at this year’s KNORR Student Chef of the Year competition

The Northern Regional College chef, got into the final sixteen of the prestigious cook off contest at Athlone Institute of Technology. He was narrowly beaten by County Down student Jody Seed who won the KNORR Student Chef of the Year competition.

Cameron, from Ballybogey, displayed his culinary skills with ‘panfried megrim sole, mussels in homebrewed parsley sherry brown butter, roast butternut puree, burnt apple puree, pickled apple, dulse cracker’ followed by ‘grilled pine glazed venison loin, smoked rump pie, soil, salt bake celeriac puree, burnt shallot and carrots for his venison main course. Cameron won a special award for his hygiene practices.

Celebrating its 19th year, KNORR Student Chef of the Year, the most celebrated student chef competition, is open to catering colleges, institutes of technology and training centres across the island of Ireland. The theme was ‘The Future of Irish Cuisine’ and focused on celebrating Irish ingredients and cooking methods. This year’s competition was judged by a panel comprising Unilever Food Solutions’ Business Development Chef, Mark McCarthy, guest judge and San Pellegrino World Young Chef of the Year, Mark Moriarty, and Michael Gantley, Chef Lecturer, Athlone Institute of Technology.

Students were challenged to create a starter using sustainable Irish seafood and a main course celebrating Irish venison. Students were also asked to demonstrate an understanding of the challenges of culinary sustainability, food waste management and allergen awareness.

Speaking at the awards presentation, Mark McCarthy said: “The KNORR Student Chef of the Year competition is an ideal platform for the country’s brightest talents to not only demonstrate their culinary flair and talent, but to also develop new skills that are certain to serve them well as they embark on what I am confident will be long, successful careers.

“The greatest challenge for everyone in the foodservice industry, and indeed those starting out, is that it constantly changes. This is why we ask our student chef finalists to not only think about the story behind their dishes, but to also tackle some of the current issues that are facing the industry, whether this is cutting down on food waste in the kitchen or meeting legislation changes. I’m happy to report that all our students created wonderful menus this year, while also meeting our challenge excellently. I feel inspired and confident that the future of our foodservice industry is in safe hands.”

Guest judge, Mark Moriarty added: “The standard of entries this year was extremely high. There is so much talent on the island and KNORR Student Chef of the Year is a wonderful way of recognising the creative thinking and innovative ideas of the next generation of top-class chefs. I was really impressed by how important local produce is to the students and how they married that with great tasting dishes.”

The KNORR Student Chef of the Year competition is the biggest competition of its kind in Ireland and allows young, up-and-coming chefs the chance to demonstrate their talent and culinary flair in front of leading national and international food professionals.