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.