The 2018 prestigious South West Chef of the Year is open for applications to showcase the excellence in the South West’s hospitality industry. Now in its 15th year, the highly anticipated culinary contest aims to find the very best regional talent for five different categories.
Lead judge and co-founder Michael Caines MBE of Lympstone Manor champions the cooking competition which offers aspiring chefs, those already working in the industry and home cooks the opportunity to gain recognition for their culinary skill and creativity. Past competitors have used the experience gained during the competition to further develop their skills or launch their careers.
The five categories for the competition are: Professional, Young Professional, Student/Apprentice Chef, Junior (under 16) and Home Cook. From these, one winner will also be selected to receive the overall award of South West Chef of the Year 2018. Competitors are invited to submit their application online via the website https://www.southwestchef.co.uk/how-to-enter/ by the closing date, Tuesday 31st July. Entries for the Junior Chef competition have now closed.
Michael Caines MBE says, “Marking its 15th anniversary this year, South West Chef of the Year provides a platform for the region’s emerging chefs and aspiring home cooks of all ages. We invite anyone with a passion for cooking and creating wonderful dishes using quality produce from the region, to enter this competition offering an amazing opportunity to learn from highly acclaimed chefs, improve on culinary skills and be challenged at cooking to a high level.”
Michael is joined by an impressive panel of the South West’s finest chefs to judge the competition at its various stages including Mark Dodson (Mason Arms), Emily Scott (St Trudy Inn), Liam Finnegan (Castle at Taunton) and Michael Wignall. South West Chef of the Year provides entrants with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate skills and creativity in cooking and knowledge of produce from the South West of England.
The Professional class is aimed at those working within the industry at the level of pastry chef, junior sous or above. Last year’s South West Professional Chef of the Year, best menu and overall winner was awarded to Robert Cox, Head Chef at Tudor Farmhouse Hotel and Restaurant in Gloucestershire. Robert was also awarded Best Dish for his starter of Cured Brill, scallop tartare, smoked bacon hollandaise, pickled shallots and puffed spelt.
The Young Professional class gives chefs aged 19 to 25 years the chance to compete against their peers of a similar ability. Last year’s winner in this category was Joshua Murphy, Demi Chef de Partie at Lucknam Park in Bath.
The rise and success of Home Cooks will be recognised within the class to highlight the growing skills and passion of those who have learned their craft at home. Entrants to the Home Cooks category must be aged 16 or above are asked to create a main course and dessert for two people. Successful entrants will go through to the finals Saturday 6th October at Ashburton Cookery School, sponsor of the class, where they will be asked to cook their menu for the judges. Sue Stoneman from Exmouth successfully retained the Home Cook title for the second consecutive year in 2017.
With its commitment to the next generation, the Student/Apprentice Chef class is open to those aged 16 to 19 who are studying at college or in an apprenticeship. Last year’s winner Eleanor Thuell works at Rodean Restaurant in Kenton near Exeter whilst studying at Exeter College. Entrants of the professional and student categories are asked to create and submit a two-course menu for three people comprising a starter and main course with an emphasis on seasonal produce from the South West and incorporating a few ingredients selected by the judges.
The South West Junior Chef of the Year class is now closed for entries, and will see finalists compete on Saturday 6th October with semi-finals for this category held in each county of the South West during June and July. The 2017 competition was jointly won by Amber Clay from Alderman Knight School in Gloucestershire and Anna West from Penair School in Cornwall.
An awards presentation dinner will be held after the final of the Professional, Young Professional and Student Chef classes on Wednesday 24th October, at Exeter Golf and Country Club.
(Photos with kind permission from South West Chef of the Year)