Restaurant FortyOne’s Maeve Walsh crowned Young Chef of the Year 2016



23-year-old Dungarvan native Maeve Walsh has been crowned the 2016 Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year.

The prestigious award followed a three-month process of interviews, on-the-spot skills tests, culinary challenges and interview out before a panel of world-class judges. The theme of this year’s competition was Inspiration. The first task in the competition saw the candidates write a social media post describing their inspiration in no more than 140 characters. In the second round, competitors had to devise a recipe along with a short entry detailing their thought processes. Successful candidates then had to take part in face to face interviews and an on the spot omelette challenge in front of a panel of Euro-toques judges, including the GM of La Rousse Foods.

The final saw the six finalists prepare a six-course banquet for a panel of judges which consisted of chef Nathan Outlaw, whose self-titled restaurant possesses two Michelin stars, Graham Neville, the commissioner general of Euro-toques Ireland and head chef at Restaurant Forty One; Paul Kelly of the Merrion Hotel along with Wade Murphy of Limerick’s 1826 Adare. The chairman of the judges was Lorcan Cribbin.

Walsh impressed the judges with a lamb dish inspired “from the seasonal products that are native to Ireland” and will now be invited to do an all-expenses paid work experience at ‘Restaurant Nathan Outlaw’. in Port Isaac, Cornwall. Mr Outlaw is chef patron at the restaurant, which is the only specialist fish restaurant in the UK to hold two Michelin stars.

Maeve Walsh is currently Chef de Partie at Restaurant Forty One on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Ms Walsh was delighted with the win and speaking afterwards said: “I was doubtful that I would be picked as one of the finalists, never mind the winner. The whole process has been amazing and I have learned so much.”

The other five finalists were: Glen Sutcliffe (23), of the Marker Hotel in Dublin; Chris Fullam (23), of the Old Street restaurant in Malahide, Co Dublin; Killian Crowley (24), of Aniar in Galway City; Gary Doyle ( 25), of the Canteen restaurant in Celbridge, Co Kildare; and Marc McWilliams (25), of the Strawberry Tree-Brooklodge restaurant in Co Wicklow.

Clerys owners plan ‘high quality dining’ for Dublin’s Northside


The new owners of Clerys are making progress with their plans to add a ‘rooftop destination’ to the iconic department store.

The rooftop destination is seen by the owners, OSC Properties, as a way of counteracting the lack of high quality restaurants in the area. OSC’s explanation for the rooftop restaurant was given in response to a request by Dublin City Council planners for further information on its plans for the redevelopment of Clerys’ former O’Connell Street department store.

OSC outlined the need for such a venue in its submission to Dublin City Council on November 9. In the submission, the planning consultants for the company, highlighted what they saw as the current “predominance of lower grade café/restaurant and fast-food type uses” on the city’s main street. Consultants John Spain & Associates pointed to the recent ‘Dine in Dublin’ promotion where 90pc of the restaurants featured were located on the south side.

The consultants noted that some 1,500 restaurant seats had been added in the south of the city in recent years and they said the north of the city had been “left behind” during the same period. Following discussions and reviews with it consultants, OCS Properties, headed by businesswoman Deirdre Foley, reasoned there is a demand for restaurants of 1,000 sq ft or less in Dublin city centre.

Foley and her colleagues’ culinary ambition for O’Connell Street is highlighted by numerous references in their submission to London’s Kingly Court, seen as one of London’s most vibrant food hubs, and to the Michelin star winning Dublin restaurant, Heron & Grey. Speaking in July, when the plans were originally lodged Deirdre Foley said, “Our vision for this iconic building at the centre of O’Connell Street is a catalyst to restore the street as our most vibrant shopping and social hub for visitors and locals to enjoy and be proud.”

New hotel planned for Dublin’s Bow Lane


Dublin City Council has given the go-ahead to plans for a new 300-bedroom hotel on Dublin’s Bow Lane, near the iconic St. Stephen’s Green. In July, city planners for Dublin City were approached by the British group Marlin, a hotel and serviced apartment group. The group which is owned by Irish businessman John Corless, looked to add an additional 120 bedrooms to the original plans for the development at Bow Lane East.

The council planners are happy for the project to proceed and are insisting that the hotel will not adversely affect the character of the area. The hotel’s planned location is in a hugely historical part of the city and includes one of the earliest habitable houses in Dublin.The project, which is expected to cost around € 60m, will be built by McAleer & Rushe, a Northern Ireland group. The hotel will be up to seven storeys in height, and will take at least 30 months to build. In its application to DCC, Marlin said a shortage of hotel rooms within Dublin and the rest of the country was having “a significant negative impact” on the Irish economy and it was keen to start building.

An Taisce, Ireland’s National Trust, had raised concerns about the “significant bulk” of the proposed hotel, resulting in Marlin scaling back the proposal from 311 rooms to 300. The new hotel is expected to be the focal point of the rejuvenation of the Liberties area in the capital, along with two brand new student accommodation blocks which will service the nearby DIT and Trinity campuses.

Public Health Alcohol Bill faces more criticism



The controversial Public Health Alcohol Bill is facing fresh criticism and could now be doubt.

The Bill, which would require retailers to separate alcohol products from other food and drink, was the subject of a meeting between the Independent Alliance and Minister of State Marcella Corcoran Kennedy. The group of TDs expressed strong opposition to the Bill and told the minister that the move is “a step too far”.

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will require alcohol to be separated from other products in shops by erecting a physical barrier, through which alcohol products and advertising would not be readily visible to members of the public. Independent Minister of State, Sean Canney and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran were at the forefront of the criticism. .Mr Canney said it would be “a retrograde step” and simply “inoperable”, while Mr Moran said the proposed laws were akin to a “nanny state”.

The Bill will be debated in the Seanad in the coming weeks and so far, fifty-two amendments to the Bill have been submitted. The passage of the Bill through to the Oireachtas is expected to be “extraordinarily slow”. Fine Gael sources said the pressure on the minister from her own backbenchers is “monumental”, although she was backed up by Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald at the party meeting.

The Public Health Alcohol Bill has been extremely controversial since its inception, especially within the retail community. If passed, the Bill would see small retailers and corner shop owners have to invest thousands of euro into their premises to build barriers to segregate alcohol products from other products.

Maldron Hotel brand to launch in England



Ireland’s largest hotel operator Dalata has begun to expand its successful Maldron brand into the UK market, opening a new location in Newcastle. Dalata signed a lease agreement to build a new Maldron Hotel with ES Newgate Limited, a division of McAleer & Rushe.

Once the building has been completed, Dalata will commence operations in the hotel with a 35-year operating lease. Five rent reviews will take place over this time, linked to the retail price index.The new 4-star property has a provisional opening date of Summer 2018. The property will have 226 bedrooms, a restaurant, and meeting room facilities.

Founded in 2007, Dalata is Ireland’s largest hotel operator, with a current portfolio of 40 hotels. Dalata already operates nine hotels in the UK, including six Clayton hotels. The firm also operates the Croyden Hotel in London, and a Maldron in both Belfast and Derry.

Deputy chief executive Dermot Crowley is optimistic about the new venture and says the development is an “exciting opportunity” to launch the brand in the English market.

“This development provides us with an exciting opportunity to launch our Maldron brand in the English market, in line with our strategy of rolling out our Clayton and Maldron brands in the large regional UK cities. We are delighted to be working on this project with our development partner, McAleer & Rushe, and look forward to opening in Newcastle in summer 2018.”

Bray shopping complex to go ahead


The Florentine shopping complex planned for the centre of Bray looks set to finally proceed.

Wicklow County Council have taken the next step in the process and begun to seek a development partner for the project which is estimated to have a gross development value of €30-€35 million. The council have approached Larry Brennan of Savills to manage the appointment of the development partner and contractor for the ambitious project. The appointments are to be made by March with the aim of completing the project, which covers 23,225sq m (250,000sq ft), by the end of 2017

The 2.4 acre site, which sits on Bray’s main street, has been the subject of a number of retail-led development proposals since 1996. After recently acquiring the site, Wicklow County Council sought the approval of An Bord Pleanála for a more modest retail development which will include anchor stores, retail units, restaurants, offices, a multiplex cinema and car parking facilities. The plans will also require the development of a new urban street which will allow access from Bray’s main street along with a central plaza with pedestrian access from Quinsborough Road.

The development of the Florentine Centre would transform the retail and evening economy of Bray where the main street in particular is lacking in restaurants, larger retail units and leisure offerings.

With a population of over 30,000, Bray is the main commercial town serving north Wicklow. It is well serviced by both the national road network, via the M11 and the M50, and public transport, via the DART, national rail services and Dublin Bus. The town has a strong tourist and heritage base and is the gateway to the Wicklow Mountains and the south-west of the country.

A decision on the planning application is due from An Bord Pleanála before the end of the year.

We finally have a date for Grafton Street’s & Other Stories opening



The glamorous Swedish brand & Other Stories will finally open its new flagship store on Friday, December 9th.

& Other Stories, the upmarket fashion brand owned by Swedish retail giant H&M, is to open the new Dublin store just in time for the busy Christmas period and eager shoppers looking to bag a bargain.Despite being just three years old, the Swedish label already has a large fan base here, shipping to Irish customers via its website.

The retail giant announced earlier this year that it would lease the former Awear store at the heart of Grafton Street. The building has been completely overhauled ahead of its Christmas opening.Building owner Aviva Investors spent €5 million on the refurbishment and reconfiguration of the block which has 990sq m (10,656sq ft) of retail space at basement, ground and first-floor levels and 836sq m (9,000sq ft) of office accommodation on three upper floors.The store space was at the centre of intense competition between leading international traders earlier this year. The space will be rented at €925,000 per year.

& Other Stories are known for their distinctive fashion forward designs and affordable prices and the Dublin flagship is expected to carry a full range of women’s clothes, shoes and accessories.H&M also owns the Cos brand, which operates in Ireland via a store on Wicklow Street and in outlets of Brown Thomas.Grafton Street will undergo even more change when Victoria’s Secret, probably the US’s most famous women’s lingerie companies, replaces BT2 in one of the most prominent stores on Dublin’s Grafton Street, right across from & Other Stories.

American Apparel Dublin To Close

The High Court have appointed a provisional liquidator to American Apparel Dublin. The US Clothing retailer has one Irish Store at 114-116 Grafton Street and has been trading in the capital since 2007.

Provisional liquidators have been assigned to American Apparel after being informed that the Irish store is insolvent and unable to pay its debts. Its American parent, American Apparel group have filed for bankruptcy in the US meaning they can no longer support the Irish store with stock supplies, credit and finance management.

The leased premise at 114-116 Grafton Street is the only realisable asset it has in its premise, with no warehouse in Ireland. Most recent accounts for 2014 show it had accumulated losses of around €1.3 million.

Christmas begins Sunday with Grafton Street lights switch on


It’s Christmassssssss!

This Sunday, Christmas officially begins when the Christmas lights are switched on across Dublin city centre.

The official lighting ceremony takes place Sunday 13th at 6pm on Grafton Street. The event, which gets bigger and bigger every year, will be headlined by Hermitage Green. The band from Limerick have been around since 2010 but they became the ones to watch in 2015 when they signed with Sony Music Ireland, released marriage equality single ‘Jenny’ and played sold-out gigs around the country including a hugely successful set at Electric Picnic 2016.

The band are joined by a number of other stand out performers including the Hallelujah Gospel Choir, Jack Wise, the Swing Cats and Glenn & Ronan. Glenn and Ronan became YouTube sensation earlier in the year when their stunning cover of Adele’s ‘Hello’ went viral. The duo were then interviewed on The Ellen Show in LA and performed with Adele herself in the 3Arena.

This event is not to be missed by families and Christmas lovers and may even convince the most hardened of Grinches of the magic of Christmas.

Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year finalists announced

The six finalists for the Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year 2016 have been announced .The six young finalists in the final judging process are:

  • Maeve Walsh, aged 23, Chef de Partie Restaurant FortyOne at Residence, Dublin. Maeve’s mentor is Head Chef Graham Neville
  • Glen Sutcliffe, aged 23, Chef de Partie, The Marker Hotel, Dublin 2. Glen’s mentor is Gareth Mullins
  • Chris Fullam, aged 23, Sous Chef at Old Street, Malahide Dublin. Chris’s mentor is Fergus Caffrey
  • Killian Crowley, aged 24, Chef de Partie at Aniar, Galway City. Killian’s mentor is JP McMahon
  • Gary Doyle, aged 25, Chef de Partie, at The Canteen, Celbridge, Co Kildare. Gary’s mentor is James Sheridan
  • Marc McWilliams, aged 25, Chef de Partie at The Brooklodge and Strawberry Tree restaurant, Wicklow. Marc McWilliams’ mentor is Evan Doyle

The theme of this year’s competition, which began three months ago, is Inspiration. The first task in the competition saw the candidates write a social media entry, expressing their inspiration in no more than 140 characters. In the second round, saw the competitors write a recipe along with an entry detailing their thought processes. Successful candidates then had to take part in face to face interviews and an on the spot omelette challenge in front of a panel of Euro-toques judges, including the GM of La Rousse Foods.

The six successful candidates will now face a cooking competition in the kitchen of Chapter One on November 27th with two separate skills tests in two hours in front of a panel of chefs – including 2 star Michelin chef Nathan Outlaw and Great Irish Bake-Off judge Paul Kelly.

Euro-toques Ireland are celebrating their 30th year, with the Young Chef of the Year in its 29th year. The Irish branch of Euro-toques was founded in 1986 by Myrtle Allen, founder of the famed Ballymaloe House restaurant and cookery school.