Hrishikesh Desai, head chef at the Brasserie restaurant at Lucknam Park Hotel in Wiltshire, has been named the winner of the 2010 National Chef of the Year competition.
The event, run by the Craft Guild of Chefs, is one of the most prestigious culinary challenges in the industry today. Past winners include Gordon Ramsay, Eyck Zimmer, Mark Sargeant and Simon Hulstone.
Desai, a former Roux Scholar, was named the winner after a live cook-off at the Restaurant Show at London's Earls Court today. He beat nine other finalists, with Adam Bennett, head chef at Simpsons Restaurant in Birmingham, and Frederick Forster, head chef at 44 Restaurant and Lounge in Hornchurch, Essex, coming in second and third place respectively.
The 10 finalists were asked to cook three courses in two hours after being presented with a mystery basket of ingredients.
Desai's winning menu comprised a starter of fillet of bream with tomato, aubergine and mussel salad, and crispy calamari; followed by a main course of breast and tortellini of duck with celeriac cream and apple chutney; and a dessert of extra bitter dark chocolate tart with raspberry and cardamom salad and yoghurt sorbet.
David Mulcahy, director of competitions for the Craft Guild of Chefs said Desai was a "spectacular winner who fought off what was an extremely strong panel of competitors for the title".
Desai told Caterersearch he was thrilled to have won the title. "I feel really happy to have achieved this at the first attempt. After winning the Roux Scholarship and the National Chef of the Year title I feel like I have passed my exams and now is the time to work harder and give something back to the industry," he said.
As the winner of the National Chef of the Year title, Desai won a number of prizes including £1,500 cash; £1,250 worth of vouchers and study trips to France and Dubai; as well as the contents of the competition kitchen courtesy of Electrolux Professional worth up to £5,000.
The judging panel was made up of a number of high-calibre chefs including John Campbell, director of cuisine, food and beverage at Coworth Park; Chris Glavin, chef patron of Galvin Restaurants; Atul Kochhar, chef patron of Benares; and Gary Jones, executive chef at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.
The 10 finalists were:
Hrishikesh Desai, head chef, Brasserie at Lucknam Park Hotel, Wiltshire (winner) Adam Bennett, head chef, Simpsons Restaurant, Birmingham (second place) Frederick Forster, head chef, 44 Restaurant and Lounge, Hornchurch, Essex (third place) Imthiaz Kader, head chef, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London Simon Christery-French, sous chef, Pearl Restaurant, London Clark Crawley, head chef, Restaurant Associates Justin Galea, executive sous chef, Turnberry, Ayrshire Richard Edwards, senior sous chef, Lucknam Park Hotel, Wiltshire Selin Kiazim, junior sous chef, Quince, London Martin Nisbet, head chef, Angelus Restaurant, London
Separately, Mark Stinchcombe, junior sous chef at the Brasserie at Lucknam Park, was named the winner of the inaugural Young National Chef of the Year contest. He beat nine finalists to win the competition, which has been designed to nourish young talent within the industry.
Stinchcombe told Caterersearch he was delighted to have won. "It was a tough competition and I'm thrilled to have won," he said.
By Kerstin KÁ¼hn
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