Kilkenny chef crowned 'Ireland's Executive Chef of the Year'

A fantastic honour...

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



Pictured is John Kelly receiving the award on behalf of Ken Harker of Mount Juliet Estate, winner of Ireland's Executive Chef of the Year

A chef at Kilkenny's Michelin-starred Lady Helen Restaurant, Mount Juliet Estate has been named Ireland's Executive Chef of the Year.

Head chef Ken Harker has been the man behind the cuisine at the renowned Thomastown restaurant for seven years now. His success was recognised at this year's Gold Medal Awards, which took place in Kilkenny's Lyrath Estate Hotel earlier in the week. Over 450 professionals from the hospitality industry were in attendance at the black-tie awards ceremony hosted by TV3's Martin King.

Mayo’s world-renowned Ashford Castle took home the prestigious award for Ireland’s Guest Experience as well as the award for Ireland’s Five Star Hotel. The Malton Killarney took home the award for Ireland’s Four Star Hotel.

A new category this year, Ireland’s Executive Chef of the Year was given to Ken Harker,  while the award for Ireland’s Rising Star Chef, another new category, was awarded to Niamh Barry of the Bay Tree Bistro, Waterford. The award for Ireland’s Chef of the Year went to Jess Murphy of Kai Restaurant, Galway.

Kelly’s Resort Hotel in Wexford was named the Gold Medal Supreme Winner, the highest accolade of the Awards; they also took home the award for Ireland’s Family Friendly Hotel. The Outstanding Service Award, chosen by the Gold Medal Award’s judging panel recognises and honours an individual’s outstanding contribution to the hospitality industry over a significant period of time and the honour this year was presented to Aidan Moynihan of Hotel Killarney.

The coveted People’s Choice Award for Ireland’s Favourite Place to Stay, sponsored by the Irish Independent,, as voted for by the public was awarded to Castle Leslie Estate in Co. Monaghan.

"The calibre of entries this year was incredible and we are delighted to see such a strong offering in our hospitality industry – it bodes extremely well for the tourism sector and for our economy as a whole," said Sybil Mulcahy, editor and Gold Medal Awards judge.

In its 29th Year, the Gold Medal Awards are intensely competitive; drawing entries from hundreds of hotels, restaurants, guesthouses, spas and catering businesses every year. Each entrant is thoroughly evaluated by members of the Gold Medal Awards judging panel who travel the length and breadth of the country over the course of the summer months to search for Ireland’s greatest purveyors of hospitality.