A DONEGAL man has been selected to represent the United States at the World Tapas Championship in Spain next week.
Joseph McFadden from Dunfanaghy, who works as the Executive Chef at Margaritaville Resort in Orlando, is one of fifteen chefs from around the globe who will be vying for the title in Valladolid.
The son of Danny and Liz McFadden from Main Street in Dunfanaghy, Joseph (43) flew back to work in Florida on Tuesday after spending ten days in Donegal with his wife and family. He jets out to Spain this weekend to take part in the World Championships.
Speaking to the Donegal News yesterday, Wednesday, he said that he was looking forward to showing off his skills to a judging panel with 11 Michelin stars and some of the best culinary experts in the country.
A graduate of the Killybegs Tourism College, Joseph worked in a number of local hotels including Arnolds and the Carraig Rua as well as An Chuirt in Gweedore before moving to America eight years ago.
“I first went to America when I was younger and lived in Boston for three years with chef Gary O’Hanlon.
I was then home from more than a decade before getting a great opportunity to move out here with Interstate Hotels and Resorts. I was with them for six years before Covid hit and then Margaritville Resort came around and I took that job. I’ll be here a year on Saturday – the same day I head off to Spain,” he explained.
To compete in the V World Tapas Championship, Joseph had to put together an online application, including a video, to secure selection among 15 chefs from 38 candidates from 32 countries.
“I did a three way duck tapas. It’s like an ice cream cone shape made out of duck skin. It’s filled with duck liver parfait and smoked breast. It’s got a Peking sauce and is garnished with cucumber and while scallion, like the traditional Peking way of doing it but I’ve modernised it. It’s all about presentation.
“I was delighted when I got word back that I had won the American heat. Now, all I have to do is present the dish to all these Michelin Star chefs so there’s no pressure,” he laughed.
Throughout next week the tapas that participate in the contests can be tasted in the bars and restaurants of the city, which will act as godparents of each of the contestants, offering in their premises the same finalist tapas with which they compete, both in the National Contest and in the World Championship.
While Joseph’s new management role means that he no longer works full-time in the kitchen he’s looking forward to next week’s challenge.
“I’m always in uniform but it doesn’t get too dirty these days. It’s one of those roles that doesn’t really exist too much in Ireland. There, you’re the head chef and you’re in the kitchen but I’ve done my time there.
“As Executive Chef here you’re leading the team but you’re also forecasting and budgeting for the year ahead. It’s something I didn’t even think I would like until I got into it,” he added.
“I’m an Irish chef representing America while Ireland’s entry comes from a Mexican chef. I don’t think Ireland or the United States have ever won the title before so it would be nice to win. It would be great exposure for the resort and for both me and my career,” he said.
An Orlando City supporter, Joseph likes to take his boys to their games. He’s also a keen fishermen in the Tampa Bay area while he plays golf.
“I’m just back here in Florida after spending ten days at home. It was my first time back since Covid so it was lovely to see mum, dad and the family. This weekend I’m off to Spain for five or six days – six days if I win – so life is good,” he added.
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