On 6 November 2017, an international jury chaired by Greek celebrity chef Argiro Barbarigou announced the European Young Chef for 2017. The winner, Aisling Rock from Galway, European Region of Gastronomy 2018 impressed the panel with her dish: Mackerel, Pickle, Sheep Yoghurt.
Based on the traditional recipe Salted mackerel with root vegetables and potatoes, the innovative dish was prepared using fish preserved with a curing method form the gastronomic heritage of her region and seasonal, locally grown vegetables. A taste of the strong sheep farming tradition of Galway was conveyed by sheep yoghurt. In her own words, with her dish she wanted the jury to “experience my story and my region through my food.”
The jury not only considered the taste and aesthetics of the dish, but they also assessed the level of innovation with respect to the traditional recipe, the use and valorisation of local products and the creative narrative of the dish’s cultural connections to the region, which Aisling successfully communicated during her presentation.
Argiro Barbarigou remarked on the high level of the finalists’ technical skills that made it difficult for the jury to select the winner. She applauded the concept of the competition, highlighting the importance of nurturing young talents and supporting the use of local food products in professional kitchens. She congratulated participants for the amazing and creative work shown during the competition, she was convinced by their dedication and wished them all well for what she knows will be highly successful careers.
Held at the University College of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts, in Sant Pol de Mar, Barcelona, the second edition the European Young Chef Award gathered eight young chefs from different European regions to celebrate cultural and food diversity:
- Catalonia, European Region of Gastronomy 2016
- East Lombardy, European Region of Gastronomy 2017
- Galway-West of Ireland, European Region of Gastronomy 2018
- North Brabant, European Region of Gastronomy 2018
- Sibiu, European Region of Gastronomy 2019
- South Aegean, European Region of Gastronomy 2019
- Kuopio, European Region of Gastronomy 2020
- Primorska, Slovenia, European Region of Gastronomy (candidate)