BaxterStorey chefs Luke Smith and Oliver Dovey have been crowned champions of the Association of Catering Excellence's (ACE'S) annual Ready Steady Cook competition.
The challenge, which celebrated its 21st anniversary this year, was held at the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf yesterday evening. It saw teams of two chefs, including one under the age of 26, prepare two courses from set ingredients.
The list of available ingredients was revealed to the chefs half an hour before they were required to submit their menus, with the teams then given half an hour to cook and serve their two dishes.
The ingredients were pork fillet, guinea fowl and pancetta with a range of store cupboard staples, fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits.
Smith and Dovey’s winning menu comprised: five-spiced pork fillet, soy glazed pancetta, torched courgette, pickled aubergine, shallot and ginger dressing, followed by tahini and dark chocolate whipped ganache, pickled pear skins, and tahini caramel.
The pair, who work at two different BaxterStorey sites, credited their success to good communication on the night.
Dovey said: “We didn’t stop talking – when I was doing something, I’d tell Luke, and he’d tell me what he was doing. It worked really well.”
A second prize, the Young Chef Award – aimed at recognising young chefs with skill and potential – was presented to Emanuele Ciafardini from Blue Apple.
On the judging panel were Mike Reid, executive chef at M Restaurants, Adam Handling, chef owner of the Frog Group and ACE patron, and Daniel Ayton, senior vice-president of World Masterchefs and executive chef at the Tower hotel.
Judge Adam Handling said: "I still remember my mentors from when I started out at 16; it was their guidance that helped me really develop as a chef and get me to where I am now, so to be able to help mentor the next generation of chefs is an absolute privilege for me.”
ACE chair Sue Thompson added: “This event is all about the chefs that are at the heart of our industry. It’s really important to promote the younger generation and give them confidence in the work they’re doing. It’s amazing that one of them will get the chance to work with Adam. It’s also a great networking opportunity with so many companies, suppliers and sponsors here.”
Lexington was in second place, and in third place were Gather & Gather.