Chef to represent Ireland at World Tapas Championship

By ELEANOR MCGILLIE 25 October, 2018

Chef Rob Curley of the Slemish Market Supper Club has been selected to represent Ireland at this year’s World Tapas Championship in Valladolid in Spain. Could Irish Tapas be the next new dish of the day? Eleanor McGillie chats with Rob about showcasing Irish produce on the world stage.

When you think of tapas you tend to think of a Spanish appetizer which can be served hot or cold, and, in many bars and restaurants around the world, tapas has evolved into a more sophisticated cuisine.

So, when an Irish chef, based at the foot of Slemish, has been asked to represent Ireland in the World Tapas Championship you might think it a bit out of the ordinary.

But, when that chef is Robert Curley from The Slemish Market Supper Club, you will understand why it is he who will dawn his whites to compete at the world’s biggest live food competition.

The championship, which will transform Valladolid into the tapas capital of the world from November 5-7, will attract internationally renowned chefs and gastronomic experts from all over the world who will appraise Rob’s dish – ‘Eire’.

Chef Rob Curley of the Slemish Market Supper Club showing the oysters he will be using for the World Tapas Championships

But will Rob’s dish mean that Irish tapas could be the next dish of the future?

Speaking from the Slemish Market Garden, where he sources most of his ingredients for his popular supper clubs, Rob said: “I have carefully selected my ingredients for the championship. I thought about which produce a foodie tourist thinks of when they think about Ireland so the ingredients I have chosen are oysters, caviar, seaweed, horseradish, milk and stout.

“I will be using the world class Tralee Bay Oysters and I’ll be making my own bread with Stout which will make the bread black. The bread will be baked in the shape of an oyster shell and the oyster will be set on the bread. The oyster will be marinated in kelp seaweed and  I’ll make a milk foam which will look like the head of a pint of Guinness. I will also make an emulsion from plankton so the dish will be a really delicious taste of the sea and of our land. I will use horseradish from the Slemish Market Garden where I source all of my produce for my monthly pop up supper clubs.  The dish will be served with caviar – trout caviar and a lovely sturgeon caviar which will give the Spanish feel to the dish.

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

“I will be appraised by chefs and gastronomic experts from around the world. This championship is such a big deal so to represent Ireland is just fantastic. Eire will be tasted and then judged on its quality, creativity and originality.

“The city of Valladolid will be swamped with people travelling from all corners of the world who want to be a part of the biggest live cookery competition in the world. Everyone will be sampling tapas throughout the week. As well as this, the patrons of Valladolid’s restaurants will each choose a competitor chef whose tapas will be on their menu during the competition, and, if I win, then Eire will be on their menu throughout the rest of the year.

“I would really like to thank the following businesses for helping us compete at the World Tapas championship Slemish Market Garden, Sua Basque Fusion, Kerry Group, Terra Foods & Wines, Tralee Bay Oysters, Broighter Gold Rapeseed oil, Mortons Flour, Per Se Caviar and Live it Experience it.”

After the world championship, Rob is giving people the opportunity to sample the tapas he’ll be serving up in Spain at a tapas night in Harry’s Restaurant in Cushendall as part of the ‘Taste Causeway 2018’ event.

Chef Rob will be hosting a tapas night at Harry’s Restaurant Cushendall for ‘Taste Causeway 2018’ – Taste of the Causeway Coast and Glens 2018 on November 16. This will be a 10 course tapas menu where he will present the entry tapas. He will be cooking alongside his good friend Chef Gorka Arrieta (Sua Basque Fusion) who will be accompanying him at the competition. To book a place at this event contact Slemish Market Supper Club via Facebook


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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