Mount Charles team serves up gold at Chef Ireland competition

The Mount Charles team (from left) of Christopher Telford, Colin Carson, Simon Toye, Ciaran Drain and and Chris Kennedy
The Mount Charles team (from left) of Christopher Telford, Colin Carson, Simon Toye, Ciaran Drain and and Chris Kennedy

FOODSERVICE organisation Mount Charles was crowned winner of the contract catering division of the Chef Ireland Culinary Competition at the 2017 CATEX exhibition in Dublin.

The senior team from Mount Charles, which was led by group development chef Simon Toye, who was previously executive chef at the Michelin-starred Deane's restaurant in Belfast, saw off stiff competition from Sodexo, Aramark and Katy’s Kitchen.

Each team was tasked to create and serve a gourmet three-course meal for guests and an independent judging panel within a time limit of just two hours and with a budget of €12.50 for six covers.

Simon’s winning menu consisted of a starter of pan fried scallops with caramelised cauliflower puree, curry oil and apple; a main course of 35-day aged sirloin, braised short rib, Jerusalem artichoke, burnt onion, chard and onion powder; and for dessert a chocolate and feuilletine delice, popcorn ice cream, sea salt, caramel and cocoa tuile.

Mount Charles managing director Cathal Geoghegan said: “We’re thrilled to have won top prize in contract catering at what is undoubtedly Ireland’s biggest and most prominent hospitality showcase event, run by the Irish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance.

“We came third at CATEX in 2015 and very much came to this year’s event with our eye on gold. It was a huge team effort with a lot of preparation involved so it’s gratifying that it all paid off, with the team commended for both the innovation and quality of the dishes as well as the high standard of food service.

“We’ve spent the last 18 months focused on recruitment and training, and have brought some brilliant new talent in to collaborate with our existing, experienced teams. The result of this is an increased focus on innovation and service excellence, which has already begun to pay off and be noticed in the wider marketplace,” he added.

As well as Simon Toye the Mount Charles team included Chris Kennedy (events division manager), Christopher Telford (general manager at Fed & Watered at Belfast International Airport), Ciaran Drain (head chef at Ulster University) and Colin Carson (also a chef at Ulster University).