The high quality of food in eating establishments demonstrates the Island is a special place to live, work and visit.
That is the message from Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, as the line-up for the finals of the Isle of Man Chef of the Year and Student Chef of the Year competitions, sponsored by Robinson’s, is announced.
Marcus Purcell, of Noitre Café in Laxey, and Sam Kelly, who is self-employed, will compete for the Chef of the Year title at the Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival after being chosen at semi-finals held today.
Marcus cooked an umami using Ballakelly Farm pork, while Sam’s dish was a Bourbon-spiced Manx pork medallion tatin with caramelised apples and smoked, crispy bacon and walnuts served with Manx honey Bourbon sauce.
Fellow semi-finalists were Daniel Johnson from The Hooded Ram, whose cooked lobster and oxtail ravioli, truffle cheese sauce and Hooded Ram Oyster Stout sauce, and Drew Saktayakorn, from Thai Thai, who created a spicy beef salad.
Well-known local chef Tony Quirk said he and his fellow judges – Janna Horsthuis and Paul Caisley from Robinson’s, and Audrey Fowler, Marketing Officer with the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) – found it extremely difficult to select two finalists, such was the quality of entries.
‘All the dishes were exceptional,’
‘The content and presentation were top class and, in terms of taste, the dishes were to a really high standard. All the chefs should be proud of themselves.’
Marcus Boyd and Bailey Purcell, who are hospitality and catering students at University College Isle of Man, will contest the Student Chef of the year competition at the festival.
In a practice run today, Marcus, who is an NVQ level 2 student and works part-time at Jaks Bar and Steakhouse, cooked a plate of summer lamb with pea and mint puree, summer vegetables and crab apple and mint jus.
Bailey, who works at his father’s Noitre Café and is studying for NVQ level 1, created a locally caught Pollock salad.
Via its Food Matters strategy, DEFA is growing the value of the food and drink sector.
The Minister – who will judge in the finals – said:
‘The Island has a growing reputation for its high quality, distinctive food and drink. BBC’s Countryfile this year said we are rapidly becoming a foodie destination.
‘Excellent eating out opportunities are important as the Island attracts people to live, work and visit.
‘These competitions allow established and up and coming chefs to show what it’s possible to create using a wide variety of Manx ingredients. The results show imagination and flair.’
Janna, from Robinson’s, said:
‘We supply high-quality Manx produce to eating establishments and enjoy encouraging chefs to come up with ever more inventive recipes to tantalise the taste buds.’
Today’s event was held at UCM, which offers BTEC, GCSE and NVQ qualifications in hospitality and catering.
Chris Franklin, Chef Lecturer of Hospitality and Catering at UCM, said: ‘The competition gives students the opportunity to create their own dishes and recipes using Manx ingedients and cook them in front of an audience and against the clock. It’s great experience for them as they embark on their careers.’
The Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival, sponsored by PokerStars, will be held at the Villa Marina on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September.
The Chef of the Year receives £500 cash, an engraved plaque and £500 for their establishment to spend on advertising. The Student Chef of the Year takes home £250, a trophy and a certificate.
*Photo - from left, Audrey Fowler, Tony Quirk, Janna Horsthuis and Paul Caisley.