A TRALEE-BASED chef was feted by judges at a major national event last week.
Head Chef at The Grand Hotel, Gorka Arrieta, won a Silver Medal for his salted cod dish and a merit award for his lamb dish at the Catex Exhibition 2017 in Dublin
More than 10,000 industry professionals were at the event at the RDS, which is Ireland’s largest foodservice and hospitality event and one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year.
There were many competitions held for different types of dishes and IT Tralee students were also among the prizes with Shaun O’Connor from Valentia Island was awarded a silver medal in the Silver Hill Duck Competition and a Certificate of Merit in the Irish Pork Competition, Nita Comerford Moul from Dingle also won a Silver medal and James O’Sullivan from Castleisland was awarded a Bronze Medal in the Irish Fish competition.
“I entered before in 2004 and didn’t get anything, but you have to challenge yourself and I felt strong this year,” said Gorka. “It’s not easy and I’m delighted with the two awards. But I am a very ambitious guy and next year I’ll go for the overall award.”
Gorka came to Ireland from the Basque country in 1998 and started off his culinary career in The Brandon before moving to The Grand Hotel as a commis chef the following year.
“I spent two years here and it was a really good time. There are still people here working from that period,” said Gorka.
He then went to The Meadowlands Hotel and Cassidy’s Restaurant, before starting the renowned Spa Seafoods restaurant.
Ill health forced him to return to his homeland in 2013, but it was good thing says Gorka as he went back to his roots in Basque cooking and discovered the old methods.
He returned to Tralee last year, first to No.4 The Square and then he took up the role of Head Chef in The Grand in September.
“It was nice to come back after so many years and become head chef, completing the circle,” said Gorka, who thanked Dick Boyle of The Grand for his support and said he was looking forward to giving people food “cooked with soul”. He also thanked Cahillane’s Butchers in Killorglin for sponsoring him at the Catex Exhibition.
Gorka will also have the opportunity to cook for the 500 best chefs in the world at a major food event in the Basque country next year.
He will team up with a chef based in Ballymena to cook a fusion of Irish and Basque cuisine in his home city of Vitoria. This ambitious chef just keeps on getting better and better.