Andrew Ishmael, the Young Chef proud to represent his hometown, Galway, Ireland

Galway-West of Ireland European Region of Gastronomy 2018 and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, GMIT, hosting institution of the European Young Chef Award 2018 will proudly send Young Chef Andrew Ishmael to compete in this year’s competition. Organised as a two-day event, 25-26 November, the European Young Chef Award gathers finalists of regional contests from around Europe to present and exchange knowledge about traditional dishes and local food products from their regions and then compete proposing their innovative reinterpretation of traditional recipes, judged by star chefs and international experts.

Continue reading below as Andrew Ishmael shares his path to European Young Chef Award:

My name is Andrew Ishmael and I am a 25 year old aspiring chef from Galway and a full time student of Culinary Arts in The Galway International Hotel School, GMIT. My inspiration to become a chef came a bit later in my career than I would like to admit.  At first it was just a job to me but eventually grew into more.  Both of my parents are classically trained chefs from Johnson & Wales College in Rhode Island and own a restaurant here in Galway, so I grew up in a restaurant environment.  As a child, I expressed a faint interest in cooking but did not want to work in the industry. The pivotal point of my career to date was when I moved to Cape Cod and started working under Chef James Hackney in 28 Atlantic at Wequassett Resort.  This is a Forbes Five star property and was my first taste of fine dining.  Being surrounded by such talented, driven young chefs really showed me where I wanted to go with my career.

My passion in the world of gastronomy so far is learning.  Although it seems something small I don’t think I can fully say something is my passion until I am comfortable in my skills and capabilities as a young chef. My professional goal is to be a food entrepreneur and I am still exploring a number of ideas around this. A chef to me is somebody who has earned that title. They must be able to lead a kitchen and have the respect of everyone working under them, for the right reasons. For the foreseeable future I will refer to myself as an aspiring chef.

To represent Galway at the European Young Chef Awards means a great deal to me, this will be my first competition and I am excited to see what other young chefs from different cultures and backgrounds bring to the table but at the end of the day it’s fun and a learning curve for all involved. The unique thing about Galway gastronomy is that we are going back to our roots.  The produce is the star of the show,  it is about the food in its most simple form such as our oysters, cheese and seaweed. Galway is my home city and it holds a very special place in my heart. I’ve always said that the best part about leaving Galway is coming back.

The European Young Chef Award aims to showcase regional and local food products while contributing to raise awareness on healthy eating. It furthermore promotes food as a powerful tool able to re-connect rural and urban environments and to find smart solutions towards regional development through food production and sustainable hospitality industries.

About the European Region of Gastronomy

Candidate and awarded Regions of Gastronomy from Europe, guided by IGCAT, are working together to raise awareness about the importance of their cultural and food uniqueness and share the long-term aim to: promote a better quality of life in European regions; highlight distinctive food cultures; educate for better health and sustainability; nurture creativity; improve tourism standards; and stimulate gastronomic innovation.

About IGCAT

IGCAT is a non-profit institute established in 2012, working with regional stakeholder consortiums in the fields of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. It counts on the expertise of a worldwide network of experts and works in partnership with specialised intergovernmental organisations.

IGCAT aims to empower local communities by guiding, facilitating, and supporting leaders in regions to understand the potential of their distinct food, culture, arts and sustainable tourism assets.

IGCAT provides the Region of Gastronomy Award and is the official secretariat for the European Region of Gastronomy Platform. Furthermore, the Institute has developed the European Young Chef Award the Local Food Gift Challenge, the Top Food Experiences of the Year and the Food Film Festivals project.