Executive Chef Sean Hunter, of the Guinness Storehouse, has been announced Aramark Ireland’s Chef of the Year 2024. The annual competition, which showcases the exceptional talent of chefs across Aramark Ireland, saw nine culinary experts compete for the prestigious prize through a series of cooking challenges.
The final took place at the Technological University of Dublin’s (TUD) Tallaght campus on Thursday, 16 November. The competing chefs demonstrated an incredibly high standard of culinary skill, and their delicious meals were assessed by three expert judges.
Participants faced the challenge of creating a vegan starter and a main course featuring wild Irish game. The chefs were encouraged to demonstrate a wide range of skills within the allotted time, showcasing their unique interpretations of taste and flavour. All dishes were judged by an expert panel, which featured TUD lecturer, Denise Murray, Redmond Fine Foods owner and director, Rocky Redmond, and Derek Reilly, Executive Director of Culinary at Aramark Ireland and Avoca.
Executive Chef Sean Hunter was declared the winner of the competition following his presentation of an impressive two-course meal to the judging panel. The starter consisted of a stunning organic beetroot ‘Tartare’ sourced from Iona Fruit Farm, served with a golden beetroot gel ‘yolk’, a beetroot liquid veil, beetroot crisp and smoked almonds. For his main course, Chef Sean presented a delicious curried Wicklow sika deer, complemented by Bombay potato tuile aubergine puree, a date chutney cone, and a Predator Zinfandel jus.
The competition’s runner-up was Jake Gamboa, Hospitality Chef de Partie at AIB Molesworth Street. Chef Jake served a mouth-watering ‘Adobo’ glazed tender-stem broccoli with broccoli puree, pickled shallot and a roasted hazelnut dressing. Chef Jake prepared a main course of venison with butternut squash moons, cavolo nero, pumpkin seed and pecan nut granola, plum and espresso jus and coffee butter.
The winner and runner-up have qualified to represent Aramark Ireland at the Aramark International Chefs Cup in Canada. The grand final is due to take place in June 2024; this competition is open to chefs who are currently employed by Aramark Corporate Catering services, who are the organisers of the competition.
Following the competition, Derek Reilley, Executive Director of Culinary Aramark Ireland & Avoca, said: “Aramark Ireland takes great pride in its exceptionally talented chefs, and this competition superbly showcases our remarkable in-house expertise. Participating in the Aramark Ireland Chef of the Year event is a true honor, and I am thoroughly impressed by the culinary excellence demonstrated by our chefs. At Aramark, we have always valued the skills and talents of our staff, and I extend my gratitude to all the participants for sharing their culinary artistry. Wishing the best of luck to Sean and Jake in the next stage of the competition”
Winner of Aramark Ireland Chef of the Year, Sean Hunter said: “I am delighted to receive this award and be given the opportunity to represent Ireland at the Aramark International Chefs Cup. This competition is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the range of skills and an incredible example of the produce and culinary culture of Ireland. I am proud to be a part of this.”
I would like to thank the team at Aramark Ireland for coordinating this event and congratulate the other participants who created amazing dishes.”