This weekend, teams from England, Wales and Scotland will compete for five days at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg. Amanda Afiya catches up with England team member Mark Hill, executive chef at the House of Commons
How would you describe the Culinary World Cup? It's held every three years in Luxembourg with over 30 national teams competing against each other for the World Cup trophy.
Is this the first time England has sent a team to Luxembourg? Yes, so the pressure's on. As all teams are aiming for the 90% gold standard it's possible that all national and regional teams can achieve a gold medal equally while competing in their respective classes.
Who is representing England? The team is made up of members of the British Culinary Federation (BCF) which is the national member of WACS (the World Association of Chefs Societies). It's being led by 2011 UK Bocuse d'Or competitor Simon Hulstone (hot kitchen) and myself (international cold buffet). The brigade is made up of a selection of proven and seasoned competition chefs and we are also joined by the junior team and novice chefs willing to learn alongside us. The team is: Simon Hulstone, Mark Hill, Adam Smith, Andrew Jones, Clarke Crawley, Andrew Ditchfield, Nick Vadis, Stephen Taylor, Matt Owens, Sarah Hartnett, Ben Ford and Sarah Bjork.
What is required from the various kitchens? The hot kitchen has to provide a three-course meal for 100 covers under restaurant conditions, while the cold table is made up of a selection of tapas/finger food, starters, mains and a show platter, followed by the pastry section - a main centrepiece made from sugar or chocolate, handmade exquisite petits fours and intricate plated desserts.
Have you had sufficient support from the industry? Through the BCF, our four sponsors are Electrolux, Steelite and Heinz Foodservice, supported by University College Birmingham. Without our sponsors, competing would not be possible. Most of the expense goes on travelling and the working arrangements abroad which are essential as we need to take a vast amount of equipment with us. We would very much like the industry to back us in the future, especially with the run-up to the World Culinary Olympics in 2012.
Are competitions such as this beneficial to development? When competing at this level you are involved in developing new skills and precise dishes that go up against the very best in the world. After five days of competing, competitors have inspiration from over 800 new dishes from across the world.
How do you think the English team will fare at the event? We are looking to achieve the gold standard and this is the dream we will be chasing next week.
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