The Menu: Knorr Young Chef of the Year

Just rewards

The Menu is a most forward-looking individual, both eyes always fixed firmly on a glorious future but, for once, he breaks with tradition to reflect on some very special award-winners. Those sharp readers who followed The Menu’s tip last week and put the house on young Jack O’Keeffe, the CIT Culinary student who swept the boards at the Knorr Young Chef of the Year last week at Tralee IT, would do well to slip a discreet €50 into a brown envelope and address it to The Menu — call it Karma.

And though The Menu himself was a late withdrawal from the Irish Guild of Food Writers 2013 Awards ceremony luncheon at L’Ecrivain in Dublin, he was consoled by the recognition accorded to some of his favourite people in Irish food: Toons Bridge Dairy’s Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese; Rod & Julie Calder-Potts, Highbank Orchard Syrup; Connemara Hill Lamb Ltd; a joint award to Sheridans Cheesemongers and Cookies of Character for their cheese cracker range; and an environmental award for Clare-based Irish Seed Savers Association.

Capital grub

The Menu doffs the cap to our national capital for its stirring spirit of culinary innovation in response to the global fiscal apocalypse we call ‘The Recession’, reckoning there has never been a better time to be a diner in Dublin. Sean Drugan’s newly opened The Vintage Kitchen offers a highly impressive menu soundtracked by actual vinyl LPs and cassette tapes in a bijou little premises on Poolbeg St with a beyond-generous BYOB policy that spurns corkage entirely. ( Meanwhile, the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar, offer Feast Your Eyes monthly screenings with a meal, all for €20. They’ve already done, amongst others, Ang Lee’s Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Chinese feast) and Mondovino (wine) and next up is Withnail and I accompanied by traditional English pub fare.

Garden workshop

Tireless Elke of Bia Sasta, having dispensed altogether with need of sleep, pops up yet again, this time with TV gardener Kitty Scully, to offer an all-encompassing vegetable garden workshop (Sat, March 23 at 10am), including foraged lunch for just €25.

Today’s special

Most Thursdays, The Menu’s Precious Daughter sets to eating the faces off Gingerbread ‘People’ at Mahon Farmer’s Market with a relish that would alarm even Hannibal Lecter. But her monstrous appetites are entirely understandable for The Menu is wont to do something similar to most everything in award-winning Cookies of Character’s delectable range, with the added bonus of sampling ongoing experiments from the ‘lab’. Which is how The Menu recently came to savour the toothsome crunch and perfectly-pitched sugar and spicing of an experimental ‘Ginger Snap’. Feel free to join The Menu’s picket line at CoC’s stall next week as he continues to agitate for said Ginger Snap’s permanent addition to the CoC stable.

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