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Triple Crown for Jack O'Keeffe

Triple Crown for Jack O'Keeffe

Published on: Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Jack O’Keeffe (19) from Doneraile in Co Cork, and a second year student of the Bachelor of Business in Culinary Arts Degree in the CIT Department of Tourism & Hospitality, has continued his winning streak by claiming the prestigious Knorr Young Chef of the Year title. The competition was held in Tralee on 27 February 2013.

This title follows on from his recent achievement in reaching the final 5 in the Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year competition in Dublin, and winning the ‘Trainee Chef of the Year’ Competition at ‘The Foodie Forum’ which was held in Galway earlier this year (see below).



The much sought after Knorr Silver Trophy now returns to the CIT Department of Tourism and Hospitality for the 2nd year in a row. Jack commented today “I am just over the moon to have won this very special award and to have been honoured in so many ways through awards over the last few months, which will allow me to expand my culinary knowledge and advance my career.  I would like to thank my mentors John Hartnett and Ciaran Scully, culinary lecturers in the Department for helping me in my efforts to win this award.”

As part of Jack's prize, he and his mentor Chef John Hartnett, travelled to Barcelona for a cooking master class in Catalan cookery organised by 'A Taste of Spain' - the first boutique agency in Spain to specialise in designing and organising food and wine trips and activities for culinary professionals and international foodies. They also dined in the esteemed El Cellar de Can Roca in Girona, which is owned by the 3 Rocha Brothers who achieved 3 Michelin Star status in 2009 (a level of quality not currently achieved in Ireland).  Jack commented that “This has been a fantastic experience. To learn about Catalan culture and food, and to eat in a world class restaurant has inspired me even more to attain my professional goals in the culinary field.”

Adrian Gregan, Head of Department in the Tourism & Hospitality Department of CIT remarked that “It is a very proud moment for the department, to have a student who has accomplished so much over the last few months and to have the prestigious Knorr award return to the Institute for the second year in a row”.

The Knorr Young Chef of the Year competition is now in its 16th year, and has been extended to include Northern Ireland for the first time this year. Unilever Food Solutions run this annual event and it has become a respected and keenly fought after competition in the Irish culinary world.  Previous winners have gone on to enjoy exciting careers in the food service industry both at home and abroad. The competition provides a real opportunity for second year students from participating catering colleges, training centres and Institutes of Technology to follow in their footsteps.

CIT's Department of Tourism and Hospitality encompasses the areas of Culinary Arts, Tourism, Hospitality, and Bar Management. It has over 750 students across these disciplines and is located in a modern purpose-built building on CIT’s Bishopstown Campus. Please click here for list of courses on offer.

The Foodie Forum is an interactive one day experience which showcases the abundance and variety of food on offer in Ireland and in particular along the West Coast.  The day includes a series of Master classes with leading chefs, and food and wine workshops by leading wine experts along with the ‘Trainee Chef of the Year’ Competition which allows the top student chefs from Irish colleges to compete for this prestigious title.

Trainee Chef of the Year Title

Jack O’Keeffe started 2013 as he ended 2012 – as a prize winner! Having reached the final 5 in the Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year competition in Dublin at the end of last year, he won the ‘Trainee Chef of the Year’ Competition at ‘The Foodie Forum’ which was held in Galway in early February.

As part of the competition, Jack had to create and present two plated portions of a Main Course in 30 minutes using seasonal ingredients, representative of quality and locally sourced foods.

Jack’s previous achievement allowed him to complete work experience with prestigious Dublin Michelin Star Restaurants such as Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud and L’Ecrivain and his most recent win allows him to enhance his skills in another one of Ireland’s top restaurants over the coming months.  He also received an i-Pad as part of his prize, to assist in researching and creating future award winning dishes.

Jack commented “I am delighted to have been successful again and be able to relay my belief in the use of locally sourced foods and seasonal ingredients through my dishes.”

Adrian Gregan, Head, Department of Tourism & Hospitality, remarked that “We are proud of Jack's achievements at such a young age and the experience which he is getting as a result, I’m sure we will see him as a future star in Irish kitchens.”

The Foodie Forum is an interactive one day experience which showcases the abundance and variety of food on offer in Ireland and in particular along the West Coast.  The day includes a series of Master classes with leading chefs, and food and wine workshops by leading wine experts along with the ‘Trainee Chef of the Year’ Competition which allows the top student chefs from Irish colleges to compete for this prestigious title.

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