A team from Restaurant Associates, the fine dining B&I catering arm of Compass Group UK & Ireland, has won the top prize at the Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) annual Ready Steady Cook competition.
The contest, held at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf yesterday, saw 14 teams of chefs aged 25 or under and working in the foodservice sector, pitted against each other.
As well as the overall prize, the judge also awarded Lexington’s Louise Roberts the Next Generation Young Chef Award.
During the competition, each team of two had to plan and prepare a main course and dessert within thirty minutes, using ingredients they had only discovered half an hour before. The main items were guinea fowl, cannon of lamb and black pudding with a selection of fresh seasonal vegetables, fruits and store cupboard ingredients supplied by British Premium Meats, 4degC and kff.
Competing for first prize were, Bartlett Mitchell, BaxterStorey, Blue Apple, Genuine Dining Company, Harbour and Jones, HIT, Holroyd Howe, ISS Food & Hospitality, Lexington, Lusso, Restaurant Associates, Sodexo, The Good Eating Company and Vacherin. Many of the chefs in those teams were apprentices.
The overall winners were Terry O’Riordan and Faye de Souza from Restaurant Associates (pictured), whose winning menu was pan fried lamb with charred cauliflower, pickled courgette, tahini yoghurt & crispy shallots. Dessert was smoked, salted dark chocolate mousse, pickled blackberries, roasted plums & spiced crumble.
In second place were Stuart Tarff and Louise Roberts from Lexington, and in third place were Imanol Beitia and Marc Bright from Vacherin.
The judges were Mike Reid, executive chef at M Restaurant; Adam Handling, founder of The Frog Restaurant and his apprentice, Connor Blades; Daniel Ayton, world vice-president, World Master Chef Society.
Handling said: “I didn’t expect the quality to be so good considering they just had 30 minutes. There is so much talent in the room.”
Fellow judge Daniel Ayton added: “I’m blown away every time I come here at what they can achieve with an induction hob and an oven.”
Mike Reid said: The standard overall was very good, but the quality and presentation of the winning menu was outstanding.”
Commenting on the win, De Souza said: I’m overwhelmed – we just didn’t expect to win. We work on different sites and teamed up for the competition. I’m doing Young Chef of the Year next week, so I’ve been practising cooking under pressure.
Her teammate O’Riordan added: We didn’t practice together beforehand as there’s not much you can do when it’s mystery ingredients, so we decided to see what was in the box and just go for it!
Every chef in the competition was given a personalised Bragard chef jacket and a goody bag from prize sponsor Collins King, and first prize was a meal for the chefs and their partners at Monica Galetti’s ‘Mere’ Restaurant.
The raffle on the evening raised £700 for Wiggly Worm. ACE has supported the charity for two years and has raised over £20,000 so far. 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.
Leftover food ingredients will be distributed by City Harvest to organisations that help homeless people in London.
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