Wednesday 2 July 2014

The Valrhona Pâtisserie Championship 2014

Photo taken from Valrhona's Facebook page. Ahem, I'm the only one wearing black...
I was chuffed when Odaios Foods asked me to be a judge at the Valrhona Pâtisserie Championship this year. The objective of the Valrhona Pâtisserie Championship is to promote and advance the standards of pastry chefs in Ireland. I'm a big fan of Valhrona (not only because they're French, their chocolates are simply amazing) and if you're a regular reader you know I spend lots of time in pastry shops when in France. So I naturally said 'ouifor the love of chocolate and pâtisserie.

A few weeks ago I found myself in DIT Cathal Brugha with the following panel of judges: Loic Carbonnet (Executive Pastry Chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in London), Benoit Lorge (Chocolatier & Proprietor of Lorge Chocolates, Kenmare), Cyril Borie (Chocolatier & Proprietor of L’Art du Chocolat, Kildare), Philippe Verdelet (Head Pastry Chef at Carton House, Maynooth) and Freda Wolfe (Culinary Manager with Odaios Foods). 

The 5 finalists had to create a plated restaurant dessert and a street food version of it using Valrhona chocolate and following the 'Stressed' (desserts backwards) theme. I was there to judge the street food version of each plated dessert but I did get to taste the plated dessert too.

Aoife Noonan, pastry chef in restaurant Patrick Guildbaud was the clear winner with her 'Java cake' and 'The Espresso Shot'. Aoife said “Coffee plays a significant role for me in managing and dealing with my day to day work life. A double espresso every morning and between shifts tends to give me a caffeine fix to enable me to drive and push myself in a stressful environment. The coffee and chocolate combination was an obvious one.” Her desserts were truly stunning and reminded me of my lovely visit to restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.

The 'Java' Cake -
The Espresso Shot

It was a great experience for me to witness some of the creativity of young Irish people in pastry making as well as being part of a jury of such professionals. Finally, here are a few pics of the desserts created by the four other finalists. It was a tough job but someone had to do it...

Paula Hannigan, The Cliff House Hotel, 'Summery Meadow'
Street Food Version
Patrick O'Mara, The Lady Helen Restaurant, 'Dark Passion'
Street Food Version
Yoann Avignon, L'Atitude 51 Cork, 'Bólcan Chocolate Dessert'
Street Food Version
Norma Kelly, DIT Cathal Brugha, 'Exotic Bounty Delight'

Disclaimer: I was asked to be a judge by Odaios Foods but I gave no undertaking to write a review and the words above are, as always, my honest opinion.