- NEWS & CHAT
With a new venue, and the spotlight on up and coming young talent, The Association of Catering Excellence held its annual Ready Steady Cook competition at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London on Thursday 22nd September.
Each of the 14 teams from the foodservice sector included a chef aged 25 or under, many of whom were apprentices. With a live audience of 200, the teams had to plan and prepare a main course and dessert using ingredients they had only discovered 30 minutes before. The main items were poussin, rack of lamb, pancetta and chorizo with a selection of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits and storecupboard ingredients supplied by British Premium Meats, 4degC and kff.
Judges Mike Reid, Executive Chef at M Restaurant; Adam Handling, young celebrity chef, Masterchef finalist and founder of The Frog Restaurant; Daniel Ayton, World Vice President, World Master Chef Society were impressed with what they saw: â€œItâ€™s incredible how many variations and different ideas the teams came up with from one box of ingredients.â€
â€œThe conditions are tense but there is evidence of good establishment training, with a high level of teaching and professionalism, and excellent communication.â€
â€œThe ingredients were tricky â€“ ideally lamb should rest for 20 minutes, but when youâ€™ve only got 30 minutes to prepare, cook and present it thatâ€™s not possible!â€
As well as the overall winners, there was a prize for the most promising young chef in the competition. Bryony Oâ€™Neill and Sam Fisk from Restaurant Associates won the overall cooking competition, and Marc Bright from Vacherin caught the judgesâ€™ eye for the Next Generation Young Chef award.
The Restaurant Associates team-mates met for the first time last week as they work on different sites. Both Bryony and Sam had recently taken part and done really well in other competitions, and were teamed up by their director who felt they would work well together.
â€œWe focused on the flavours, going for a Middle Eastern theme with cumin, feta and pomegranate for the main course. The dessert followed the same theme with yoghurt and ginger prominent ingredients.â€
Their winning menu was Cumin Roast Lamb Fillet with Crusted Sweet Potato, Molasses, Glazed Feta and Pickled Beetroot followed by dessert of Spiced Pears, Yoghurt Espuma, Almond Crisp and Blackberries.
Marc Bright from Vacherin, winner of the Next Generation Young Chef Award said:
â€œBeing a chef is everything to me and I feel so at home in a kitchen. I am amazed how food is changing so quickly and how our passion for food is now being shared by many people in everyday life.â€
Judge Adam Handling observed: â€œWe were impressed by Marcâ€™s calm and methodical approach. This is a great competition for chefs. Itâ€™s giving them an opportunity to be judged and rewarded on what is essentially their daily jobâ€
Every chef in the competition was given a personalised Bragard chef jacket, and first prize was a meal for the chefs at The Fat Duck, sponsored by McFarlane Telfer. Sales & Marketing Director, Mark Brooker explained why they support Ready Steady Cook:
â€œWe were pleased to see the changes to the event this year. Within our own organisation, we champion young people and give them real opportunities to show what they can do, so itâ€™s great to see recognition for the young, up and coming talent in the Ready Steady Cook competition.
Around half the competitors are our customers in the UK, and itâ€™s fantastic to see them demonstrating their skills so clearly. We hope the Restaurant Associates team are inspired by their visit to the Fat Duck and enjoy the experience.â€
Gary King, Director of Collins King & Associates also felt the competition is very relevant for them:
â€œWe have been members of ACE for a number of years, and when ACEâ€™s Chair, Paul Hurren approached us about sponsoring this event, we felt it was an opportunity not to be missed in order to raise our profile and support many of our clients who are competing. As headline sponsors, we donated prizes, goody bags and provided Mike Reid as one of the judges. We have seen ACE events take on a new energy and are delighted to be associated with them.â€
Sodexo were in second place, with Lusso in third. The other teams were ABsolutely Catering, BaxterStorey, Bartlett Mitchell, Blue Apple, The Brookwood Partnership, Ch&Co, Elior, Holroyd Howe, ISS Food & Hospitality, Lexington and Vacherin.
The raffle on the evening was in aid of Wiggly Worm, ACEâ€™s chosen charity for 2016. It was set up to inspire vulnerable or disadvantaged people, and motivate them through food. The chopping boards and pans, provided by Nisbets, will be donated to the charity. Left over food ingredients will be distributed by City Harvest to organisations that help homeless people in London.
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