Quartet set for Junior Chef of Wales final cook-off
Four talented young chefs have cooked their way through to the final of the Junior Chef of Wales competition.
The quartet clinched their final places at the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC) at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Rhos-on-Sea on February 28 after closely fought semi-finals at NPTC Group of Colleges in Newtown.
Oliver Thompson, 20, from The Bull, Beaumaris and Thomas Martin, 22, a sous chef at 13 Market Street, Caerphilly, who were Junior Chef of Wales finalists last year, will get a second chance to win the coveted title.
Joining them will be Sion Hughes, 20, Carden Park, Chester and Daniel Britton, 21, from Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.
The other semi-finalists were Calum Smith, 17, and James Jarvis, 18, from Shrewsbury College, James Whalley, 22, from Tyddyn Llan, Llandrillo and George Woodhead, 21, from Coast Restaurant, Saundersfoot.
The judges were Colin Gray from Capital Cuisine, Caerphilly, Danny Burke from Olive Tree Catering, Runcorn, Nick Davies from Cambrian Training Company and retired chef Terry Woolcock.
The chefs were given three hours to cook and serve up a three-course menu for four people using a majority of Welsh products. They were challenged to cook a starter suitable for vegans, a main course using Welsh Lamb and a dessert including Welsh honey.
Awaiting the Junior Chef of Wales winner is an all-expenses-paid visit to the Worldchefs Congress 2020 with the Culinary Association of Wales where he will be part of the Worldchefs Young Chefs Club.
In addition, he will be invited to a study tour hosted by Koppert Cress in the Netherlands, receive a set of engraved F. Dick Knives and be seeded through to the semi-finals of the Young National Chef of the Year contest organised by the Craft Guild of Chefs.
Mr Gray, chairman of the judges, praised the high standard of the cooking and said it was pleasing that this year’s competition had attracted a record entry, with many new faces.
“There was some very competent cooking across the board even though they were in a different kitchen environment with judges watching their every move,” he said.
“In my role as chairman of the judges, I decided to up the game by stipulating that their starter had to be vegan. They all coped admirably well and there was an interesting selection of dishes where they had to think outside of the box.”
The competition is also proving to be a fertile hunting ground for the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) which is now recruiting young chefs for the Junior Culinary Team Wales to compete at the Culinary Olympics next year.
Mr Gray said more than 20 young chefs from across Wales had expressed an interest in competing for a place in the team.
“The profile raising by Culinary Association of Wales president Arwyn Watkins and the success of Culinary Team Wales are causing a real buzz, with more chefs wanting to be part of it, which is great to see,” he added.
The WICC are organised by the CAW and main sponsor is Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government’s department representing the food and drink industry. Other sponsors include Castell Howell, Harlech Foods, Churchill, Koppert Cress, Dick Knives, Roller Grill, MCS Technical Products and Major.