• Cyril McAree

Executive Pastry Chef, Paula Stakelum Reaches The Final 8 In International Valrhona C3 Competition


Ashford Castle is proud to announce that Executive Pastry Chef, Paula Stakelum has become the first Irish pastry chef to the reach the final of the international Valrhona C3 Competition 2018. In October of this year, Paula will face 7 top pastry chefs from around the world at the C3 International Final in Brooklyn, New York for the chance to claim the coveted title of C3 Champion.

Having won the 5th bi-annual Valrhona Patisserie Championship in Ireland in May of last year, Paula competed in the regional semi-finals of the Valrhona C3 Competition in Versailles, France on Thursday, 1st March against peers from the UK, Poland, Belgium and Austria. The C3 Competition is a biennial competition, established in 2008 and now in its 5th edition.

Over the course of a 5 and a half hour trial, contestants were tasked with making an original and creative plated dessert recipe along with a moulded chocolate bonbon. The theme was Manjari Grand Cru de Madagascar using Manjari 64%, the dark couverture chocolate from Valrhona’s Grand Cru de Terroir range.

Paula Stakelum’s winning dish – Ashford Estate Pine 2017 with Estate Crab Apple – was designed as a celebration of the Ashford Estate and of Madagascar. Using pine tips foraged on the Ashford Estate during her morning runs, Paula created an aromatic pine-infused oil which she incorporated into her dessert. Furthermore, the Crap Apples used come from the single rare crab apple tree on the Estate for a truly unique taste of Ashford Castle. The Bonbon element of the dish was created using sloe gin and wild hazelnuts; sloes foraged on the Estate were infused with Shortcross Gin.

Tipperary-born Paula has been pushing the standard of patisserie excellence since joining Ashford Castle in 2010 as Executive Pastry Chef. Using Ashford Castle and the surrounding Estate as inspiration, guests are guaranteed a unique taste experience with each of her innovative creations.

Commenting on her award, Paula Stakelum said: “I put my heart and soul into my craft so I am thrilled and honoured to be the first Irish pastry chef to reach the International C3 Competition. I am so lucky to have been given the time and support of the amazing Ashford Castle team to compete, and I look forward to representing the hotel and Ireland at the finals in October. This win was definitely inspired by the Estate.”

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