Last June we announced to the world that the Irish chef Mark Moriarty had been picked as the S.Pellegrino Young Chef for 2015. Since the competition, the chef has been busy with his own pop-up restaurant, a guest spot cooking at Massimo Bottura’s soup kitchen in Milan, a number of events and a wonderful presentation delivered at the Irish food symposium Food on The Edge.
The young chef is energetic and full of spark as he cooks for guests across the UK and tells us of plans to go on his own tour.
Waiting for the 2016 edition to be announced, we caught up with the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 to find out more about his whirlwind win last year in Milan and look back to his winning dish - a plate that focused on vegetables and telling a story of Ireland.
How was the S.Pellegrino Young Chef opportunity for you?
I've a lot of request since the competition, a lot of e-mails, a lot of contacts. This competition works; it's a world title so I don't want stay in Ireland, I want go everywhere. I'm 23, I want travel and cook around the world.
What is your plans at the moment?
I've a pop a restaurant, so after S.Pellegrino Young Chef I went around the world. In December I will be in Melbourne for a week with Peter Gunn, the S.Pellegrino Young Chef finalist for Pacific region. Next year I will take a tour around the world with my pop up restaurant. The idea is: 6 cities in America, 3 in Europe, 3 in Asia, so cover the world. I want to bring Irish food with me, try to be an ambassador of Irish gastronomy. I want that people think "Irish is the good place to go" and of course I'm using the competition as a launch pad.
Why did you opt for a vegetarian dish for S.Pellegrino Young Chef?
I have a lot of balls to participate with a vegetarian dish in a final like that. A good piece of meat, or a good piece of fish, well cooked, speaks for itself: vegetables need more imagination and skills. As well, I was able to make a vegetarian dish using irish ingredients and I was able to tell an Irish story, so this signature dish became more than a vegetarian dish.
Is the dish now on a menu?
My recipe was always on a menu of my pop-up restaurant. The mark of a great restaurant is a great vegetarian dish. But we don't sell it like a vegetarian dish, instead like a new Irish dish.
Are you keeping in touch with other SPYC's finalist?
Yeah, with Peter Gunn mostly, but it was a great experience, we bond a lot during the process.
One trend for the future?
Vegetarian food it's the big thing, it's about sustainability, we're growing in the world and meat and fish are not sustainable.