Ciaran McGill, a Head Chef for Gather & Gather Ireland has been crowned CH&CO Chef of the Year 2024.

Ciaran triumphed against strong competition at the grand finals, held at the University of West London.

The cohort of talented finalists comprised of the winners of Chef of the Year competitions held within CH&CO’s specialist brands, including Blue Apple, Company of Cooks, Gather & Gather, CH&CO Independent, Pabulum and Vacherin.

For the final, the chefs were challenged to produce two portions each of a starter and main course within two hours, meeting the competition’s sustainability-focused brief. The starter had to be plant based and the chefs were to use a whole herb fed free range chicken for their main. Upholding CH&CO’s top-level three-star Food Made Good rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), the overall menu had to also meet, wherever possible, the SRA’s One Planet Plate criteria of celebrate local, waste no food, more veg, source fish sustainably and low carbon footprint. Chefs were also required to produce menus with allergen data.

The chefs showcased their exceptional skills and creative, sustainable dishes under the watchful eyes and well-trained palates of a panel of esteemed judges, including Anthony Demetre, Chef Patron of the Michelin-starred restaurant Wild Honey; Deepak Mallya, Executive Sous Chef at The Ritz London; Sabrina Gidda, Chef Consultant and author of Modern South Asian Kitchen and Michael Coaker, Ambassador for the University of West London. Each menu was judged on flavour, presentation, overall menu balance and interpretation of the brief.

Ciaran wowed the judges and took the title thanks to his menu of Spring Pea & Hazelnut Tart, Iona Farm White Turnip, Radish, Velvet Cloud Sheep Yoghurt followed by Herb Fed Free Range Yorkshire Chicken, Green Asparagus, Buttermilk Thigh, Truffle Mousseline Stuffed Wing, Wild Garlic & Celeriac. They praised him for his excellent technical skill and bold flavours.

Jeremy Ford, CH&CO’s Food Director and competition organiser, said: “What a final! Huge congratulations to Ciaran, a worthy winner against very stiff competition. The standards shown by all the finalists was phenomenal and I congratulate them all. They are testament to the culinary passion and expertise in the food teams across CH&CO’s specialist brands, as well as the genuine commitment to creating delicious, exciting dishes that are also sustainable.”

As well as the kudos of the title of CH&CO Chef of the Year 2024, Ciaran has won a three-day culinary experience in San Sebastian.

The competition was generously sponsored by CH&CO’s supplier partners Blue Arrow, Britvic, Essential Cuisine, Churchill China, Oliver Harvey, Chefswear, WearerTech and HG Walter.

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