Jessica-May Gardiner has won Elior's first in-house Young Chef of the Year Competition hosted at Unilever's UK headquarters.
The competition for the firm's chef under the age of 23 saw three young candidates participate in a series of challenges, demonstrating fish filleting skills and presenting a plated main along with "an authentic oriental main course including one unusual oriental ingredient". Elior launched the competition this year to grow young talent, and in a bid to tackle the skills shortage currently gripping the industry.
Gardiner's contribution, a Chalk Stream trout dish with pomegranate molasses and mixed beets; and a vegan Char Sui pulled jackfruit with sticky rice, vegetables and pan-fried yardlong beans, helped her to win the title. As her prize the chef de partie, who is based at the Waters Corporation in Wilmslow, will now join John Williams at the Ritz for a day.
Peter Joyner, food development director at Elior, said: "Junior chefs are the future of our industry, so competitions like this are a great opportunity for them to grow, learn and improve.
"There's also a real skills shortage in the industry, so encouraging and motivating young people is essential. Although competitions demand a lot of time, energy and dedication, competing can take chefs all over the world. It's about finding someone with that passion and dedication to take it that step further and go the extra mile to achieve.Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).