Winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition, Mark Moriarty has taken the culinary world by storm at the young age of 24, and he’s been travelling the world to showcase his skills ever since. In advance of his three-night pop-up at Test Kitchen, from 11 to 13 August, we spoke to the Irish talent about his recent adventures and what to expect on his menu in Hong Kong.
How did winning the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition change your life?
Being in such a highly competitive industry, it provided me with the invaluable opportunity to meet with and learn from several prestigious chefs from around the world and I was lucky enough to be mentored by Clare Smyth, Chef Patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Since winning, I’ve been able to take my Dublin-based pop-up restaurant around the world. Linking up with other finalists from last year’s competition, as well as other established chefs, I have cooked in Alta Badia, Melbourne, Sydney, Charleston, Singapore, Naples, Paris, Cape Town, Johannesburg and now Hong Kong. I’ve been able to turn these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities into a career, so I feel exceptionally fortunate!
What was your goal in competing?
The goal was to accelerate my career and gain recognition in the international culinary scene. Over the past year, I’ve been able to leverage S.Pellegrino’s connections in the fine dining industry to travel the world and partner with some of the industry’s biggest names. My aim was not only to promote myself and satisfy my competitive nature, but also to represent Ireland and put Irish food in the spotlight on the global culinary stage. I achieved this in the competition last year and have been showcasing my style of modern Irish food around the world ever since.
Why not just run your own restaurant instead of doing pop-ups?
At 24 years of age, I’m still learning and am far from the complete package. A settled restaurant would be great, but right now my focus is on traveling, learning, gaining insight from as many chefs as possible and enjoying myself while I’m doing it! We work in a tough industry and it has been great to have a little flexibility in my working life while also learning at a rate I could not have achieved if I was only working in Dublin. Give me three more years and I’ll be ready to open up permanently I’m sure!
What do you want Hong Kong diners to know about Irish food?
Instead of the preconceived image of potatoes and alcohol, the Irish cuisine is humble and based around quality ingredients. We have some of the world’s best meat, fish and dairy produce right at our doorstep, and we are also famous for our hospitality, which is a vital part of the dining experience. In the last 10 years, Irish chefs have really embraced our food heritage and are producing gourmet experiences that are as good, if not better, than anywhere in the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to eat in many restaurants across the globe in the past year – from fine dining to local favourites – to learn different techniques and develop my palate; and I’ve learnt that Irish food is just as good as any other cuisine.
What’s your impression of Hong Kong as a food city?
That it’s rich and diverse. It’s a flying visit but I’d love to try a bit of everything while I’m there, from dining out at some of the city’s top Michelin-starred restaurants to experiencing traditional Hong Kong dim sum. If I get the chance, I would love to visit Chi Lin Vegetarian restaurant. My signature dish during S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015, and one of the dishes I will be serving at the Test Kitchen pop up is a vegetarian one – celeriac baked in barley and hay with hazelnut – and I am always interested in how different chefs approach plant-based cuisine.
What inspired your collaboration with Test Kitchen?
It’s a perfect platform for chefs to show their skills in a pop-up environment, so I’m excited to be joining them from August 11–13. Having done a lot of pop-ups in the past twelve months, their approach and philosophy is pretty unique: to enable chefs from all over the world to showcase their skills and culinary style to a new audience. Hong Kong will be one of the final international showcases of my food before handing over the S.Pellegrino Young Chef title to the next winner!
Can you tell us anything more about the menu?
It will be a reflection of me and my country; simple, refined and confident, with the aim of showcasing Irish food in a new way. The dinner will provide a unique and at times interactive experience that blends the best of food, wine, theatre and Irish hospitality!
Mark Moriarty x Test Kitchen
Dates: August 11, 12 and 13
Time: 7:00pm & 8:15pm seatings
Price: HK$1,580 per person (includes wine pairing)
Location: 158A Connaught Road West, Shop 3, Sai Ying Pun