• Cyril McAree

Executive Pastry Chef, Paula Stakelum Crowned Valrhona Patisserie Champion 2017


The award winning Ashford Castle is proud to announce that Executive Pastry Chef, Paula Stakelum has been crowned 2017 Valrhona Patisserie Champion. The 5th bi-annual Valrhona Patisserie Championship took place in DIT Cathal Brugha Street on Tuesday, 30th May where Ashford Castle’s talented pastry chef succeeded five other patissiers to take home the coveted title.

Judges were captivated by Paula’s winning dish, ‘Taobh Istigh Iompaithe Amach’ – the old Gaeilge phrase, “the inside is turned outside”. The dish was a contemporary and avant-garde take on the classic French bavarois combining Guanaja, Pine Oil and Wood Sorrell to create a beautiful story. As with all her creations, Paula used the beautiful surroundings of Ashford Castle and Estate as inspiration, incorporating pine tips and wood sorrel which had been foraged on the estate. Head Judge, Benoit Blin – Chef Patissier at 2 Michelin Star Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and judge on BBC2’s Bake Off: Crème De La Crème – was joined on the judging panel by some of Ireland’s most regarded pastry chefs including Aoife Noonan, Executive Pastry Chef at Luna, Clare Fletcher of The Firehouse Bakery, David Geszler, Head Pastry Chef at The Marker Hotel and Ludovic Lantier, Executive Pastry Chef at Fade Street Social, Rustic Stone and Taste at Rustic. A native of Thurles, Co. Tipperary, Paula joined the team at Ashford Castle in 2010 and since then has been delighting, and surprising, guests with her exceptional culinary skills. Each morning, Paula forages on the vast 350acre Ashford Estate to find unique and seasonal ingredients which are then incorporated into her desserts, truly capturing the spirit of Ashford. Paula’s ambition is that dessert is more than simply food on a plate – dessert should be visually striking and exceptional in flavour, exciting and unexpected. It should be unique to its setting.

Commenting on her award, Paula Stakelum said: “I am honoured to have had the chance to represent Ashford Castle at the 2017 Valrhona Patisserie Championship – winning the title was certainly the highlight ! 7 years ago when I last entered the competition I created a bavarois dish but this year I felt it was my time; it is all a part of my story and journey as a pastry chef. I won thanks to the continuous support and encouragement I have at Ashford Castle; I work with an amazing team.”

Ashford Castle’s General Manager, Mr Niall Rochford also commented: “We are all very proud of Paula’s achievement. At Ashford Castle we strive to deliver a guest experience incomparable to anything they have seen before, and that includes our dining experience. Thanks to our stellar team and having Paula’s exceptional talents on our side, we are doing just that.” www.ashfordcastle.com

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