Now in its fifth year, the Yes Chef awards for 2018 was held in The Limerick Strand Hotel yesterday the 24th of October. With a full house of 450 guests, Kerry food was well represented, the evening was a celebration of the hospitality industry in Ireland, with a focus on recognising those in the front line of an ever changing and challenging culinary landscape.

The YesChef Awards are unique in that the menu for this celebration is produced by students from colleges across the country. Along with IT Tralee and their mentor Dan Brown were students and mentors from Limerick IT, Athlone IT and Dublin IT.

Nicci Smith, Editor of Yes Chef Magazine said “Without a doubt, one of the highlights of the evening was the gala dinner. With support from their mentors, these young people who are the future of gastronomy in Ireland, delivered what can only be termed an outstanding dining experience for guests on the night.

We were also privileged to work with some of the finest producers on the island  Bluebell Falls, The Burren Smokehouse, Sheridan’s Cheese, Silverhill Duck, Ballinwillin House Farm and Crossogue Preserves. These producers are the face of Irish food and lead the way in promoting Destination Ireland for foodies across the globe.”

Cordal Goat Cheese Custard, Butternut Croquette, Compressed Apple, Balsamic Gel, Herb Oil & Hazlenut Tuille. IT Tralee Culinary Students

Cordal Goat Cheese Custard, Butternut Croquette, Compressed Apple, Balsamic Gel, Herb Oil & Hazlenut Tuille. IT Tralee Culinary Students

This year there were 68 awards recognising and honouring chefs, hoteliers, restaurateurs and front of house teams. Shane Smith, Yes Chef Director, said that “from its inception The YesChef Awards has been based on a research visit to each establishment, our judges face tough decisions every year, but this year one of the toughest was that of deciding Young Chef of the Year.” And that accolade went to young Kerry Chef Clodagh Teahan, from The Europe Hotel, Killarney.

Kerry food and hospitality stars that also shone bright on the night were, Croi in Tralee, winning Newcomer of the Year 2018 for Munster, Sol y Sombra in Killorglin securing, World Food Restaurant of the Year 2018, not just for Munster but also the over all award for Ireland. Dingle Links Clubhouse brought home the Munster title as,Golf Club Restaurant of the Year 2018 and of course Cordal Goats Cheese which took pride of place representing Kerry on IT Tralee’s collaboration for the gala event.

But it didn’t stop there,The smugglers Inn in Waterville took home Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year 2018 in Munster and the Conservatory at the Butler Arms hotel in Waterville received recognition as Seafood Restaurant of the Year 2018 for Munster. A fantastic double for Waterville.

Shane Smith, Yes Chef Director, also commented that “The level of commitment, dedication and skill displayed by the entrants was simply breath-taking and whilst recognising that the industry is facing challenges in recruiting and retaining young chefs, there is no doubt that there are young people working across Ireland who have incredible talent. Our challenge is how we support these young people to build and develop their careers.”

The YesChef Awards is sponsored by Flogas, Lynas, CLASSICdrinks, Ready Chef, The Panel of Chefs of Ireland and Johnsons Coffee. Their support is invaluable to the growth and development of the programme.