Clare College Cambridge wins Hospitality Show's Mystery Box Grand Prix
A team of chefs from Clare College Cambridge has won this year's Mystery Box Grand Prix at the Hospitality Show 2015.
Byron Franklin, Dan Abbs, and Tony Maio won the best in class silver medal at the competition, making them the best trio of the seven taking part.
The Combined Services Culinary Arts team also took away a silver medal, while the WilsonJones Catering team won a bronze, as did the trio from the Grove at Chandlers Cross.
The City College Norwich team, and the three from Warner Leisure Hotels, picked up a certificate of merit apiece.
The competition, sponsored by Terinex - whose oven bags were required to be used for cooking the main courses - gave each cooking station a box of ingredients that they had never seen before, and for which they had no chance to practice. Chosen by chef ambassador and Salon Culinaire director James Tanner, the seasonal selection included wine, venison, kale, and wood pigeon.
There were also a choice of communal "larder" items, such as oil, sugar, garlic, onions, potatoes, salt, cornflour and stock.
The panel of judges included Tony Murphy, executive new product development chef for Compass Group UK & Ireland; Rob Kennedy, executive chef at Royal Academy Sandhurst; Mark Sweeney, head chef at the Glasshouse at the Grove; Mark Houghton, chef at the University of Birmingham; Steve Scuffell, lead judge and executive chef of Moran's Hotels, and James Tanner, who is also co-owner of Tanners Restaurant in Plymouth.
The overall winners' menu, which in accordance with the competition rules was devised and written down within 15 minutes of the contest's start, included wood pigeon with pickled veg and pomegranate dressing, honey roast duck, and a chocolate marquis with orange sorbet.
Other dishes created included roast loin of venison with rosemary potatoes, curly kale and a red wine reduction; blue cheese and bacon cannelloni with roasted leeks; baked duck with pommes pur?es and chicory; thyme-infused poached apple with a lemon biscuit and vanilla ice cream; and apple crumble and custard.
Commenting on the contest, compere Kevin Byrne advised chefs to not be too descriptive in their menus, so as to allow them some flexibility with ingredients if needed. He told The Caterer: "The difference with this is, the teams can't prepare. With other classes they might do a dish 20 times a day [before doing it here]. With this, they can't practise it, so it tests their imagination and skill."
Tanner agreed, adding: "The balance of ingredients forces them to be original. When I choose the ingredients, I think of what I would do with them myself. We judge teams on their creativity."
The contest was one of many taking place at this year's Salon Culinaire, at the show's Live Theatre. The show is taking place at Birmingham's NEC on 19-21 January.
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