Our talented chef duo, Oliver Dovey and Luke Smith competed in the ultimate industry cook-off at the Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) Ready Steady Cook final, held at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London.
The contest, which celebrated its 21st anniversary this year, saw the chefs go head to head against fellow industry colleagues. In front of a lively audience of over 150 people, teams of two chefs planned and prepared a main course and dessert within thirty minutes. To add to the pressure, they had to use set ingredients they had only been presented with half an hour before.
Ingredients ranged from pork fillet, guinea fowl, pancetta, with a range of store cupboard staples, all provided by local suppliers including 4DegreesC and British Premium Meats.
Luke and Oliver’s winning menu included:
Five-spice pork fillet, soy glazed pancetta, torched courgette, pickled aubergine with shallot and ginger dressing
Tahini and dark chocolate whipped ganache, pickled pear skins and tahini caramel
Executive chef Luke said: “When we saw the standard of food the other chefs had produced, we really didn’t expect to be in the top three, let alone win! The planning, speed and communication were vital to getting the food cooked on time and to a high standard. I’m so proud of what we achieved on the night and loved working with Ollie, who’s passion and drive inspired me.”
Crediting their success to lots of communicating on the night, chef de partie Oliver added: “We didn’t stop talking. When I was doing something, I’d tell Luke and he’d tell me what he was doing – it worked well. Not 30 seconds went by without us updating each other, which allowed us to be flexible and help each other with preparation and plating.
“There was some tough competition and some fantastic looking dishes. When they announced our names as the winners, we were overjoyed – I just turned to Luke and gave him a massive hug!”
The thrilling competition saw final dishes judged by Mike Reid, executive chef at M Restaurants, Adam Handling, ACE patron and chef owner of the Frog Group and Daniel Ayton, senior vice-president of World Masterchefs and executive chef at the Tower Hotel.
Leftover food ingredients were distributed by City Harvest to organisations that support homeless people in London.