Chef Neil Yule has been named the Sodexo Chef of the Year 2015, after winning the gold best-in-class medal at the grand final, at the 2015 Hospitality Show.
Yule, who is chef for Sodexo's Corporate Services at GSK, cooked alongside chef Daniel Taw, who worked as his ‘commis' in the competition. They cooked a menu of pan-fried line-caught sea bass with crab and chive remoulade and a seasonal pickle garnish; pancetta-wrapped lamb fillet with basil and oregano, crisp herb and Parmesan polenta, with mint and pea puree, broad beans, roast garlic and a lamb stock reduction.
Yule's dessert was a Bramley apple and ginger pudding, with nutmeg ice-cream, shaved candied walnuts, caramel sauce and apple puree.
As well as the title of Sodexo Chef of the Year, Yule also wins a study trip tour of artisan producers, fine-dining experiences, and a collection of cookery training activities at restaurant River Cottage, courtesy of sponsor Leathams.
The 90-minute competition tested eight teams of two chefs (one competing chef and a ‘commis') and demanded that competitors prepare a hot or cold starter using whole fresh sea bass, a main course using fresh lamb fully garnished, a warm or cold dessert using Bramley apples, and a Knorr-branded herb puree supplied by sponsor Unilever Food Solutions. The other sponsor was Churchill.
Judges included Alyn Williams of London's Westbury hotel; Christopher Basten, chef lecturer at Westminster Kingsway College and chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs; Steve Munkley, executive head chef at the Royal Garden hotel; current Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year Russell Bateman; outgoing Sodexo Chef of the Year, Louisa Matthews; and David Mulcahy, craft and development director at Sodexo and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs.
Tom Beauchamp (commis Ross Clark) of CPU, South Queensferry, also took home a gold medal; Danilo Barbagallo (Azzeddine Mataam) took a silver; Darren Poulter (Shyam Simon) took bronze; as did Andy Clarkson (Camilla Maunsell), and Jonathan Preece (Tom Bill).
Certificates of merit went to Lee Eastman-Thompson (Steve Jarman) and Dennis McCarroll (Colin Ledlie). All commis chefs were awarded certificates of participation.
He said: "The chefs have done brilliantly to just be here, and today we simply want three great courses of food for the chefs to do themselves proud. Not only does this [contest] help identify talent, it also helps Sodexo keep our clients excited and interested, it improves the skills of the chefs, and the quality of the food that we serve every day."
The contest took place on Tuesday 20 January, as part of the Live Theatre line-up at the Salon Culinaire, at the 2015 Hospitality Show at the Birmingham NEC. The show is taking place until 21 January.
Hotelympia Salon Culinaire 2014 - medal winners >>