Later this month, Jordon Powell and Matteo Montone will represent Great Britain in the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs' international finals for young chefs and sommeliers respectively. They share their experience with Janet Harmer and reveal how they will be preparing to compete on the world stage
Jordon Powell, chef de partie at South Lodge hotel near Horsham, West Sussex, will compete in Calgary, Canada, from 17-22 September
To reach the international final, you won the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs' GB Young Chef of the Year competition in March. What did you cook to win the title?
Cured trout with mint mayonnaise, burnt onions and pickled vegetables; followed by roast flank steak, seared ox liver, pomme purée, roasted leeks, lime and a blanquette sauce. My dessert was lemon and vanilla posset with poached pineapple, goats' curd and thyme candied almonds.
How have the preparations for Calgary been going?
I've been taking up stages at a number of restaurants to help me develop new techniques and combinations of flavours. The main ingredient we will have to use will be northern pike, which is a difficult fish to prepare and one that not many of the competitors will have tried before.
Have you had a chef mentor to help you prepare?
Chris Basten, chef-lecturer at Westminster Kingsway College, has helped me with my training and is preparing me for competing in a kitchen abroad.
How many other competitors will there be? And do you have a target of where you want to be placed?
There will be chefs from 15 to 20 more countries, and the competition will be tough. I will be there to push for the title.
How do competitions help your development as a chef?
Competing is a fantastic way of getting you out of your comfort zone and it pushes you to work faster and harder than you usually would. It helps makes you a stronger chef.
Much of your career has been spent at South Lodge, starting off as a Saturday boy at the age of 12.
Following spells in other kitchens, you returned to the hotel. Why did you go back?
The main attraction to return to South Lodge was to work for Tom Kemble at the Pass restaurant. His food is very different to what I am used to and I was keen to learn a new style of cooking.
Following your return from Calgary, what will be the next focus in your career?
Next up will be competing in the Young National Chef of the Year finals in October.
What is your ultimate ambition?
I would really like to have my own restaurant, build a name for myself in the industry and have the ability to train younger chefs.
Matteo Montone, wine director at the London Edition, will represent Great Britain in Seoul, South Korea, from 18-23 September
What tasks did you undertake to win the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs' GB Young Sommelier of the Year final?
There were two blind tastings of wines, then one spirit blind tasting, a questionnaire of around 100 questions, a restaurant scenario and a wine list correction.
What was your route to working at the London Edition?
I arrived in London from Italy six years ago to work at the Shard. I then went on to the Ritz London and Locanda Locatelli before moving to the London Edition.
How are you preparing for Seoul?
I'm studying by doing three or four blind tastings per week, as well as practising various restaurant scenarios. The competition will be similar to the GB one, but it will be tougher as I will be competing against some of the best young sommeliers in the world.
Do you have any mentors as you prepare for the competition?
I am very lucky as I get guidance from a lot of people. I have two great study partners – Alan Bednarski, head sommelier at Annabel's and Vincenzo Arnese, head sommelier at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – who I have been meeting weekly with for the past two years to train.
How many other competitors will there be? And where do you hope to be placed?
There will be around 20. I'd love to be in the top three.
How does competing help your development as a sommelier?
It means I'm always learning and meeting sommeliers from around the world. And it definitely keeps you sharp in your knowledge.
Following your return from Seoul, what will be the next focus in your career?
I'll be focused on preparing for the master sommelier exam.
What is your ultimate ambition?
Becoming a master sommelier!
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