Mark Moriarty of The Culinary Counter in Dublin, Ireland, is the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 UK & Ireland region finalist.
The 28-year-old chef will showcase his signature dish of ‘celeriac baked in barley and fermented hay with cured and smoked celeriac’ at the grand final at Expo Milano 2015 in June.
Tell us about your signature dish...
It consists of a whole piece of blowtorch-charred celeriac marinated in an Irish style miso of cooked pearl barley and hay. It’s accompanied by hazelnuts and some other forms of celeriac. The strength is its punch on the palette, and its representation of traditional Irish food culture in a modern form.
What made you decide to become a chef?
Summers spent fishing with my father in a small village called Ventry in Co. Kerry, Ireland, exposed me to such a wide variety of high quality seafood. It made me appreciate the effort involved in sourcing produce. A separate interest in art led me down the path of becoming a chef, channeling creativity through food.
Which chef or chefs inspire you daily and why?
I am a big fan of Brett Graham at The Ledbury in London for his simple, clever, yet ultimately tasty cooking. Closer to home, I was inspired by the chefs I worked under; Kevin Thornton of Thornton’s, Mikael Viljanen of the Greenhouse and Ciaran Sweeney of the Culinary Counter.
What’s the best dish you’ve ever tasted - where did you eat it, who cooked it?
Chicken and game pie, truffle pomme puree and madeira sauce by chef Kieran Glennon at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin. It was so good because I love pies and eat them regularly, but this was better than any pie I’d ever eaten, a masterclass in simple food done well.
What’s the most challenging aspect of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 for you?
The most challenging aspect is believing that my dish is strong enough to be the best in the world.
What kind of help/guidance would you like from your mentor, Clare Smyth?
I would like my mentor to back me and my dish, in order to give me the confidence to go to Milan and win.
What will you do if you win this competition?
I’d use the title in an ambassador role, to showcase Ireland as the food destination it has truly become. And also go on a celebratory night out in Dublin.