Two young North Wales chefs were runners up in the Junior Chef of Wales final on Monday.
Josh Hughes, 20, chef de partie at Deganwy Quay Hotel, Deganwy and Aaron Griffith, 23, chef de partie at St George’s Hotel, Llandudno were beaten by Ben Mitchell from The Grove, Narberth after a closely contested final on the first day of the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC) at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos-on-Sea.
James Corbett, 20, commis chef at Llangoed Hotel, Llyswen, near Brecon, was the other runner up. The four finalists were given three hours to cook a three course meal for four persons using their own original menu.
Chairman of the judges, Culinary Association of Wales secretary John Retallick praised all four finalists for the standard of their cooking and had a message for all young chefs. “We need good, dedicated people in this industry, which can give you so much satisfaction and opportunities, but you have to work hard at the beginning,” he said.
Demi chef de partie Ben, 19, will now qualify for the UK semi-finals of the National Junior Chef of the Year contest, spend a week with head chef Gareth Ward at the Michelin starred Ynyshir Hall, near Machynlleth and received a set of knives from Dick Knives.
The result was the unanimous decision of the panel of judges, which included Michelin star chefs Hywel Jones from Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, near Chippenham, Will Holland, from Coast Restaurant, Saundersfoot, Shaun Hill, from The Walnut Tree, near Abergavenny and Mike Evans, Junior Culinary Team Wales coach and Mr Retallick.
Organised by the Culinary Association of Wales, the WICC has Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government’s department representing the food and drink industry, as its main sponsor.
For his menu, Aaron served up a starter of fillet of Welsh trout topped with bara brith crust, orange and fennel rosti, oyster fritter, butter sauce, trout crackling and baby beetroots. Main course was pork tenderloin filled with pork offal and morel mushrooms, smoked apple, parsnip, black pudding boulange, carrot and swede Battenberg, bacon crisp and Welsh cider gel. Dessert was Penderyn whisky, Llandudno goat’s cheese cheesecake, dark chocolate sorbet and mango marshmallow.
Hughes opened with a starter of Great Orme lobster and Anglesey scallop followed by a main course of Dolmeinr Farm Lamb cooked two ways, root vegetables, parsnip puree, courgette pattie and mint gel. Dessert was apple, blackberry and almond tart, apple gel, blackberry gel, apple tuille and apple and blackberry ice cream.
The WICC continues today with a full programme of competitions for chefs and waiting staff. One of the highlights of the event is the Battle for the Dragon contest, which sees hosts Wales take on England and Scotland over three days.
Culinary Team England are in the kitchen today, followed by Scotland on Thursday. Each team has to cook a three course meal for 85 people.
The National Chef of Wales final on Thursday afternoon brings the curtain down on the championships, which attracts chefs and waiting staff from across the UK.
The growing popularity of baking, sugarcraft and cake decorating is reflected in the Cake Cymru show, with entries expected from across Wales and England.
There will be a live web stream of the WICC at www.gllm.ac.uk/welshfood and viewers can also follow the action on the CAW’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Culinary-Association-of-Wales-Cymdeithas-Coginiol-Cymru-233215000086016/ on Twitter at https://twitter.com/WELSHCHEFS and http://welshculinarychampionships.tweetwally.com/ and on YouTube at