We have announced the winners of our first Regional Chef Cook Off within the central region.
The final held at Electrolux in Luton, saw the finalists challenged to create one dish within 90 minutes, using a seasonal ingredient of the judges’ choice.
Young Chef of the Year
Chloe Dobson, based at Royal Society of Chemistry, took the title of Young Chef of the Year. Her dish of vegan ‘steak’ and chips wowed the judges. The woodland assorted mushrooms from Farrington Farms in Preston were sourced under five miles away from her home. Commenting on her win, Chloe said: “I wasn’t expecting it! My competitor’s dish looked amazing. I’m shocked but super excited to see what the future holds for me. I’ll be back next year!”
Chef Manager of the Year
Cambridge-based Scott Ambler was awarded Chef Manager of the Year. With the judges describing the dish as having ‘fantastic flavours’, Scott’s complex dish of cold smoked mackerel tartare, seared mackerel, lentils, cockle popcorn, apple and ginger caviar and Hedgerow ketchup impressed the judges. Scott said: “I’m shocked, I wasn’t expecting to win. I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole process, I’ve learnt so much”.
Pastry Chef of the Year
Devon Wright, based at Experian took the title of Pastry Chef of the Year. His fig infused pavlova dish was constructed with award-winning blue cheese with cream iced bilberries, bilberry puree, fig textures and almond candy crumb. The was described as ‘beautiful’ by the judges, with ingredients sourced just five miles from his location. Proud of his win, Devon said: “I honestly wasn’t expecting to win; I’m really proud of myself. I made the final last year but to win this year is amazing. I wanted to set an example for my children, that quitting is never an option”.
Retail Chef of the Year
Milton-Keynes based James Shaw was awarded Retail Chef of the Year. His dish of caramel pressed pork with celeriac puree, apple fluid gel, blood sausage, confit potato and crispy kale was inspired by his love of seasonal produce. The pork was sourced from Woburn Country Meats, 15 miles from his location. James said: “I am over the moon! Thanks to BaxterStorey for giving me the best training that allows me to take this incredible opportunity”.
Fine Dining Chef of the Year
Fine Dining Chef of the Year was won by Daniel Johnson, based at St Cross College. His dish named ‘Rabbit Tasting’ included rabbit cooked three ways, complemented with cannellini beans, chervil and wild mushroom. Daniel said: “I am speechless. I didn’t think I was going to win; the competition has been really tough”.
The judges awarded top marks to those using the best of locally sourced produce. Their dishes were encouraged to show off their skills in taste, creativity and presentation.
Adam Nossek, retail development chef director and judge, said: “I am extremely proud of all our chefs today. Each one has contributed an immense amount of thought into each of their dishes and it’s great to see produce that’s locally sourced – working closely with our suppliers is really true to my heart. Judging was extremely difficult and I’m looking forward to working with them on their future pathways”.
The winners were awarded a dinner for two voucher for Monica Galetti’s restaurant Mere or Mark Hix’s restaurant Hix, alongside an award-winning bottle of wine and trophy.