Vacherin chefs Lewis Linley and Gemma Vardon have been crowned champions of the Association of Catering Excellence’s (ACE’S) annual Ready Steady Cook competition.
The challenge was held at the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf yesterday evening and saw teams of two chefs, including one under the age of 26, prepare two courses from set ingredients.
The ingredient list was revealed to the cooks half an hour before they were required to submit their menus, with the teams then given half and hour to cook and serve their two dishes.
The ingredients were wood pigeon, pancetta, chicken livers, pork fillet, a range of store cupboard items, fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits.
Linley and Vardon (pictured above) served judges a winning menu (pictured below) of roast pigeon, pancetta, sweet potato, broccoli cous cous, pickled blackberries, and sweet potato crisps followed by a dessert of almond financier, orange, roast fig with honey, yogurt espuma and almond crumb.
Linley said: “We hoped to see some seasonal ingredients as we had been practising some ideas, so we were pleased to see the choices we had.”
Team mate Vardon added: “We were really honoured to be chosen to represent Vacherin, and to actually win was amazing.”
On the judging panel were Ruth Hansom, head chef of Luton Hoo and the first female winner of the National Young Chef of the Year competition; MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Steven Lickley and Daniel Ayton, senior vice-president of World Masterchefs.
A young chef award was also presented to 20-year-old Felicia Amofah from Blue Apple.
Judge Ruth Hansom said: “I agreed to judge the competition and become involved in ACE as I think it’s really important to have a mix of ages in organisations like this to inspire young people to join the industry. I like the fact the teams include a mentor and a younger person, it’s good to see them working together.”
Judge Daniel Ayton said: “The dishes they turn out in just 30 minutes continue to amaze me. We were looking for teamwork, planning and organisation as well as flavours and presentation.”
Lexington was in second place, and in third place was Compass’ Restaurant Associates.