The 2015 Welsh International Culinary Championships have been declared a big success, with increased entries and new sponsors and judges attracted to the three-day event at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos-on-Sea.
Talented chefs and waiting staff from across Wales and England assembled at the championships, which are organised by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) with the Welsh Government and Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales as main sponsors.
CAW president Colin Gray, owner of Capital Cuisine, Bedwas, thanked all the sponsors, chefs, colleges and establishments who had supported the championships, which he said continued to grow, with 350 entries this year.
Two of the main awards from the championships, the Junior Chef of Wales and the Battle for the Dragon, both went to South Wales.
Andrew Tabberner, a 22-year-old chef de partie from Coast Restaurant, Saundersfoot, was crowned the new Junior Chef of Wales. In addition to the prestige of being named the best young chef in Wales, he won an all expenses paid trip to represent Wales at the Junior Forum held at the World Association of Chefs’ Societies Congress in Athens, Greece in May 2016.
Runners up were Vivienne Read, 20, a commis chef at Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Sam Ricketts, 20, chef de partie at Signatures Restaurant, Conwy and Arron Tye, 20, demi chef de partie at Shared Olive, Hawarden. They were challenged to cook a three course meal for four people in three hours.
The Battle for the Dragon, a contest between teams of chefs from the three Welsh regions, was won by South Wales, led by Michael Bates, executive head chef at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, who received gold medals. His teammates were Karl Jones Hughes, Simon Crockford and Ffion Lewis from the Celtic Manor Resorts, Kieran Harry, head chef at Chapel 1877, Cardiff and Nicolas Collins, development chef for the Catering Academy, Cardiff.
The runners up, who each received silver medals, were defending champions Mid Wales, led by manager Gareth Johns, chef-owner of the Wynnstay Hotel, Machynlleth and North Wales, led by David Kelman, executive head chef at Ellenborough Park Hotel, Cheltenham.
The three teams were challenged to cook a three course meal for 75 people, using seasonal Welsh ingredients.
Mr Gray congratulated all three teams and said it had been another close contest. “It was really pleasing to see a number of chefs competing for the first time in the contest, which has got to be good for the future,” he said.
“The Battle for the Dragon contest was part of the trial and selection process for team members to compete with Culinary Team Wales in the Culinary Olympics in 2016. Representing your country ought to be considered the ultimate honour by every Welsh chef.”
The overall award for best college went to North Warwick and Hinckley College, which also took three other overall awards. Learner Caitlin Baum was named best overall junior learner, Jason Thacker won the open live award and the college team win the team award in the cook and serve competition.
Best overall static award in Cake Cymru, which is run as part of the championships, went to Hayley Robert or Llandrillo College and Bodnant Welsh Food Centre.
Competitors used induction hobs for the first time at the championships thanks to MCS Technical Products Ltd of Swindon, who teamed up with Roller Grill from Woking and Adande Refrigeration from Lowestoft to provide all the equipment needed by the chefs.
“It was good to get induction hobs into the hands of young chefs because in five to 10 years’ time they are going to have kitchens of their own,” said it Peter Rigby, national sales manager for MCS Technical Products Ltd. “Induction is the way forward because it’s more powerful, cleaner and controllable.
“We supply induction hobs to other salons around the country but this was our first time at the Welsh International Culinary Championships, which has impressed me.”
Two Michelin starred chefs, Shaun Hill from The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny and Will Holland from Coast Restaurant, Saundersfoot, added their expertise to the judging panel this year.
The other judges, organised by John Retallick, chairman of judges, were Colin Gray, Sally Owens, Coleg Llandrillo, Duncan Barham, The Grove Hotel, Terry Woolcock, Hatherleigh Manor, Eric Bruce, Restaurant Severn, Ironbridge, Stuart McLeod, Zuidam, Steve Scuffell, The Crown Hotel, London, Peter Cooke, Tameside College, Manchester, Ian Jaundoo, Liverpool Community College, Claire Bosi, Hibiscus, London, Doug Field, SA Brains, Cardiff, Raj Mandal, Bedford, Brian Henry, Portavadie, Loch Fyne, Arwyn Watkins, Cambrian Training Company and Michael Evans Coleg Llandrillo.
Best in class award winners were: Cake Cymru: Showpiece, Katia Hannaby; open cup cakes, no age restriction, Nina Evans Williams; junior cup cake (16 and under), Annabelle Kenworth; junior cup cake (12 and under), Nicole Hannaby; open floral sugarcraft, John Mountford.; open novelty cake, Ben Cripwell; open decorated celebration cake – sugarpaste, Hayley Roberts and open decorated celebration cake – royal icing, Hoi Lai Chung, Coleg Llandrillo.
Potato piping, Gary Fletcher, Shrewsbury College; knife skills – fruit, Elizabeth Brown, Coleg Gwent; knife skills – veg, Martin McBurney, Shrewsbury College; napkin folding, Gareth Ashton, Coleg Llandrillo; Inter College Challenge, North Warwick and Hinckley College; chicken fricassee, Jamie Bullock, Coleg Llandrillo; chicken sauté, Caitlyn Baum; dessert flambé , Warren Pilkington, Coleg Cambria; cold first course, Livia Alarcon, City of Liverpool College; Classic moules mariniere, Bethan Pound, Coleg Llandrillo; cook and serve, City of Liverpool College; fillet of lemon sole duglere and fillet of rainbow trout doria, Kieran Wood Evans, North Warwick and Hinckley College; whole fish filleting, Danny Lane, North Warwick and Hinckley College; Welsh Lamb dish, Sion Thomas Roberts, Imperial Hotel, Llandudno; hot first course, Leon Tam, City of Liverpool College; main course flambé, Zac Wolfe, Tameside College; savoury tapas, Carlyle de Salis, City of Liverpool College; live gateau, Daniella Bromley, Loughborough College; ultimate cup cakes, Laura Ellis, Coleg Llandrillo; table setting, Hollie Williams, Coleg Cambria; beef dish, Jason Thacker; cook and serve, Beth Ellis, North Warwick and Hinckley College; fish dish, Kampon Bacciarelli, Loughborough College and omelettes, Faye Smith, North Warwick and Hinckley College.