Judges of South West Chef of the Year have chosen the semi-finalists who will go forward to the closing stages of this year’s prestigious competition. Chefs from around the region battled it out for a place in the next stage of their category. Founder and co-judge Michael Caines MBE has praised the standard of culinary skill already shown in this stage of the competition. The full list of semi-finalists and finalists has been published on the South West Chef of the Year competition website: www.southwestchef.co.uk/2016-semifinalists/.
Michael said: “The first round is very hard because chefs need to demonstrate from just a menu what they are capable of producing in the kitchen. Their menus must also have an emphasis on sustainability and use specific ingredients that we give them. The results were, once again, fantastic with some great taste combinations and the right amount of inventiveness. I can’t wait for these menus to be recreated in the semi-finals.”
Chefs chosen for the Professional, Young Professional and Student Chef of the Year classes will now go through to the semi-finals held at Exeter College on Saturday 8th October. This year, Jack Sharland – who won the South West Student Chef of the Year award in 2015 has successfully gained a place at the Young Professional category and is working as a full-time chef.
Jack said: “Winning the Student award last year has brought about so many opportunities. It was a great chance to find out what other people thought of my cooking and I learned so much from the other competitors and what they did. With another year’s experience, I wanted to put myself up for the challenge again in the next stage of the competition and hopefully learn even more.”
Finalists of the Junior Chef of the Year – who have been selected from county-based semi-finals held at catering colleges throughout June and July, will now go through to a grand final at Ashburton Cookery School on Saturday 15th October. They will be joined by Home Cook finalists who have been selected by the judges based on their two course menus and which they will now be asked to prepare. Last year, Andrew Callaghan was the joint winner of the South West Junior Chef of the Year award and has this year been selected for the final of the Home Cook category. Although not studying catering at the moment, he is still considering this as a potential career path.
Andrew said: “The South West Chef of the Year competition has given me many opportunities, skills and the confidence to learn about life as a chef. Mentoring, work experience, opportunity after opportunity – it has changed my life. To all those junior cooks out there, enter, try and whether you succeed or not, never give up, keep learning. I’m delighted to reach the final of the Home Cook category this year and look forward to the challenge ahead when I can put my new skills and imagination into something I love doing.”
Several chefs see the competition as an annual challenge with entrants coming back each year. With many crediting the competition with giving them valuable professional development opportunities, some progress from South West Chef of the Year to the next stage in their career.
A grand final for the two professional classes and the student chef class will take place on Monday 24th October at Exeter College swiftly followed by a lavish awards ceremony and dinner held at Exeter Golf & Country Club that evening.
Hosted by the judges including Michael Caines MBE, the awards dinner is a culinary feast comprising courses prepared by three top chefs from the region. This year, the chefs selected to cook at the awards dinner are Hywel Jones who will also be judging this year’s competition and is a Michelin-starred Executive Chef at Lucknam Park, Bath; Jamie Rogers, a previous winner of South West Chef of the Year (2015) and Head Chef at Belgrave Sands Hotel, Torquay and Scott Paton, also a previous winner of South West Young Professional Chef of the Year (2009) and Head Chef at Boringdon Hall Hotel, Plymouth. Hywel, Jamie and Scott will be supported in the kitchen and front of house by students of the Michael Caines Academy.
Members of the public can buy tickets to the South West Chef of the Year Annual Awards Dinner, priced at £80 per person and enjoy sumptuous food and drink throughout the evening. A further information and ticket reservation email address has been set up: firstname.lastname@example.org.