Talented BaxterStorey chefs, Ryan Percopo and Spencer Warren competed in the ultimate industry cook-off at the Association of Excellence (ACE) Ready Steady Cook competition. The event was held at East Wintergarden, in the heart of Canary Wharf in London.
In front of a large audience of over 250 people, each of the 14 chef teams, which included a chef aged 25 or under, had to show off their culinary skills by planning and preparing a main course and dessert within thirty minutes. Based at a city bank, head chef Ryan and sous chef Spencer had to utilise ingredients that were revealed to them only half an hour beforehand.
The mystery ingredients included wood pigeon, pancetta, pork loin and chicken livers supplied by British Premium Meats. Chefs also had access to a range of store cupboard ingredients, including seasonal fruit and vegetables supplied by 4 Degrees C.
Graham Eveleigh, head of skills development and ACE council member said: “The chefs don’t know what they’re going to be cooking for at least an hour before the event, and they get some very limited equipment; only an induction hob and a very small oven. The competition allows the chefs to let their imaginations run wild; they can really go to town on it! I say to the chefs beforehand, it’s the fastest thirty minutes in your life and to be a winner, you’ll have to produce something fantastic on the plate from working hard, in a very short period of time”.
Ryan and Spencer’s chosen menu consisted of…
Pan fried pork loin, pickled fennel, carrot and apple salad, spiced pomegranate molasses jus
Orange and lemon syrup sponge, lemon and mint cream, macerated blackberries, almond crumb
Final dishes were judged by Ruth Hansom, ACE’s newest chef patron and head chef at 2 AA Rosette Wernher restaurant and Steve Lickley, seen in 2017’s MasterChef: The Professionals. Steve also secured 1st place at ACE’s Ready Steady Cook in 2015. Daniel Eaton, Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality who has previously cooked for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall was also on the judging panel.
Ryan Percopo, head chef said: “I was really happy with our performance. Having competed last year, we were more prepared and knew what we were facing. However, you can never fully prepare for a mystery box of ingredients, where you have to plan a menu and serve four plates of food within half an hour. I was able to put all the skills and time management that I’ve learn over the years to the test! We had immense support from the Baxterstorey family who turned up in large numbers, which was a great help on the night.”
Spencer Warren, sous chef, commented: “Competing in the competition this year was different to last year, because we had experience. I felt we performed well, but you never 100% know. The fans turned out in big numbers this year, it really felt like there was a third person in the team! It was a great honour to be chosen to represent BaxterStorey, as there are so many great chefs in our business. I think there was a bit more pressure on us this year to do well, seeing as we had a trial run last year, but I feel we did miles better and I’m very proud of the dishes we produced in under 30 minutes”.
The event raised £600 for the Wiggly Worm charity, founded by Abbey Guilding, which aims to inspire and educate vulnerable and disadvantaged people to give them opportunities to work in a kitchen.
Leftover food ingredients were collected by City Harvest, to be distributed to organisations that feed the homeless in London.