Mountmellick CS Transition year student Mark Dunphy has cooked his way to the national final of the Rotary Young Chef competition.
Mark aged 16 won the Laois final of the competition, and last week was one of three young chefs selected in the regional final in Cork.
He was surprised to win he told the Leinster Express.
“I was so surprised, I don't know how I got through, the standard was so high,” said a modest Mark.
He is now preparing to cook his three course meal in a highly competitive final in Santa Sabina School in Sutton, Dublin this Saturday February 27.
Mark's meal starts with a chickpea falafel, followed by parpadelle ragout featuring his handmade pasta, and a meringue roulade.
After winning the Laois final, he got some professional tips from the chefs at Batoni's restaurant in Emo, and from Imelda Tynan in Portlaoise.
“Imelda showed me how to make my meringue higher and thicker,” he said, also thanking his home economics teacher Margaret Foynes, and his family for their advice and support.
He will be one of six finalists in a tense two hour final, overseen by judges.
“The standard will be very high but I will try my absolute best,” said Mark.
Andrew Cremin from Laois Rotary Club commended Mark on his success.
“It was a difficult decision due to the very high standard by all entrants. Thanks to Dave Halpin Jr and Clare Mills , our judges, and special thanks to Regina Mundi College and Sandra Lane for hosting the event, and the School Food Company who sponsor the Ireland leg of the competition,” he said.
The winner of the national final will represent Ireland in the British and Irish final.