Coeliac UK reveals Gluten-free Chef of the Year

16 November 2012
Coeliac UK reveals Gluten-free Chef of the Year

Celebrity chef and ambassador for Coeliac UK Phil Vickery has announced the winner of the Gluten-free Chef of the Year competition.

Manuel De Freitas, who is the second chef at the Four Seasons Health Care Silver Springs Care Home in Jersey, saw off stiff competition from five other finalists to take the top title.

Runner up was Tom Thexton, head chef at Wild Thexton in London and the third finalist was Viktorija Bernataviciute, the sous chef at the Wig and Pen in Northampton.

Coeliac UK, the national charity for people with coeliac disease, ran the competition for the third year in association with the Institute of Hospitality and the Craft Guild of Chefs, with the cook off taking place at the Unilever Food Solutions culinary business development centre in Leatherhead.

The competition, to design a three course bistro style gluten-free meal, aims to raise awareness and highlight the need for increased provision of gluten-free menu options for the 1 in 100 people in the UK with coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease caused by intolerence to gluten.

There were two categories; Gluten-free Chef of the Year, for professional chefs, and Up and Coming Gluten-free Chef of the Year, for catering students under 23.

This year the competition was made tougher, with entrants being asked to include gluten-free substitutes such as bread, pasta or batter cooked from scratch at the live 90-minute final.

In the Up and Coming category, Christian Dean Young from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire who is studying professional chef level 2 at Northampton College was announced as the winner.

Runner up was James Barnard from Barton Upon Humber whilst Beathan James from Corby, Northamptonshire also studying at Northampton College was the third finalist.

Vickery congratulated the winners: "Each year the standard is raised and this year it was the best ever with some exceptional dishes being cooked including those traditionally seen as being more difficult to make such as gluten-free bread, pasta and pastry. To cook these in a live final is a real achievement."

Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK, said: "At least 1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease; representing a potential £100m market amongst those diagnosed with the condition and the friends and family they eat out with. Adopting some relatively simple changes can make all the difference and we have seen a number of leading high street catering establishments who have been working with us and recently entered this market.

"In addition there are numerous people in schools, hospitals, prisons and care homes who have no choice of where they can eat and it is essential that those in these establishments also have access to gluten-free food."

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