In Valladolid – Irish Tapas is the Dish of the Day

By ELEANOR MCGILLIE 15 November, 2018

It may not have won the World Tapas Championships title but our Slemish chef’s dish ‘Eire’ was loved so much that this Irish Tapas is now on the menu in one of Valladolid’s finest tapas restaurants. Eleanor McGillie catches up with Chef Rob Curley of the Slemish Market Supper Club after his week in Spain

Live It Experience It member Chef Rob Curley from the Slemish Market Supper Club was in Valladolid last week to represent Ireland in the World Tapas Championships where he created a tapas which would make anyone’s mouth water.

For one week, the city of Valladolid turned into the tapas capital of the world and hosted the world’s biggest live cooking competition.

The event was shown on numerous Spanish TV channels media and was streamed live on an international level. It was judged by nine acclaimed chefs and gastronomic experts such as Susi Diaz, who is a celebrity Spanish TV judge of Top Chef Spain and also a Michelin starred chef from La Finca Restaurant.

Rob, who runs the popular pop-up supper club, created a dish which he felt represented the taste of Ireland and its shores. His tapas was a native oyster cured in kelp seaweed, Guinness puree, plankton and oyster mayo, trout caviar, horseradish milk foam and shamrock cress all served in an edible oyster shell. It was a taste of Ireland in one bite comprising the flavours of the  sea and the land.

It was the uniqueness of his tapas which caught the attention of the chef patron, Paco Martinez Criolla, the president of the Spanish Culinary team and owner of one of Valladolid’s finest tapas restaurants La Criolla.

The president hosted Team Ireland, chef Robert, along with his good friend, chef Gorka Arrieta of Sua Basque Fusion, based in Tralee, Co Kerry. He requested that Rob’s dish ‘Eire’ was then served on his menu during the entire competition and also throughout the rest of the year in La Criolla.

Chef Robert Curley with Chef Gorka Arietta in Valladolid at the World Tapas Championships

Speaking about his time in Spain, Rob said: “It was such an amazing experience. To represent Ireland as a chef at such level was superb and ‘Eire’ may not have won the overall championship title but Irish Tapas is the dish of the day for La Criolla as it will be served in this wonderful city for the rest of the year.

“This year was just the second world championship ever to be held and the 16th Spanish national championship with over 70 chefs from countries such as Japan, Columbia, Norway, USA, Mexico and Argentina to name but a few.

“New Zealand won the title for 2018 but ‘Eire’ came really close. It was a wonderful experience to have taken part and to have competed alongside the best chefs in the tapas culinary world.

“It was a privilege to have been able to display the quality produce that we have in this country and to show our culinary skills to such a wide audience of acclaimed chefs. I would like to thank the Kerry Group, Tralee Oyster Fisheries, Sua Basque Fusion, Terra Foods & Wine, Slemish Market Garden Ballymena, Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil, Caviar Per Se, Live It Experience It and also the Irish team captain, Chef Gorka Arrieta, for his great work in helping me compete in this high calibre competition.”

The tapas Chef Rob Curley will cook at the Tapas World Championships in Spain

Rob is back home now in Ballymena and his next appearance will be at Harry’s Restaurant in Cushendall tomorrow night where he will cook a 10 course tapas menu where he and chef Gorka Arrieta will present the entry tapas ‘Eire’ to a ‘Taste Causeway’ audience.

To keep up to date with Rob and the Slemish Market Supper Club you’ll find all updates on The Slemish Market Supper Club Facebook Page


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Eleanor McGillie

About Eleanor McGillie

Eleanor spent eight years working in the south west of England - one of the UK's most popular tourism hotspots. During her stint working with key players in the tourism sector she developed a love for all things outdoor adventure. As a journalist she got to travel to remote corners of the world to write travel features about the experiences of a particular place. Northern Ireland's story needs to be told and needs to reach new audiences. Live It Experience It aims to attract tourists from outside Ireland, people from Ireland and people who live in Northern Ireland but aren't aware of the extent of the adventures on our own doorsteps. Eleanor is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) at Associate Level