Chefs from boutique contract caterer Vacherin clinched the coveted Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) Ready Steady Cook! title last night following a hotly contested cook-off at Imperial College, London.
The competitors, Alan Eggleston and Nick Smith, fought off chefs from 14 other major caterers, including two-time winners Charlton House, Elior, BaxterStorey and Holroyd Howe.
The chefs were presented with a box of mystery ingredients and given just 30 minutes to submit their menu and prepare their station. The contestants only had an induction hob, supplied by Induced
Energy, to cook on and were not allowed the use of any other electrical equipment.
They then had a further 30 minutes to cook a main course and dessert for two covers. Six teams were shortlisted from a series of three heats for a cook-off, in Ready Steady Cook! style, in front of an audience featuring the Who's Who of contract catering.
Eggleston and Smith served up pan-fried halibut, Thai-style, described by the judges as "clean, light and fresh with perfectly cooked fish and beautiful al dente vegetables", followed by Fruity Tutti and a trio of desserts (toffee apple with thyme fromage frais; mille-feuille of roast fig and plums; blackberry milkshake with a blackberry skewer).
Runners-up in the competition were In House Catering Company's Mark Easterman and Leo Rodley, while third place, for the second year running, went to Aramark's Daniel O'Connell and Anne Troalen.
The competition was judged by Martin Bates, chief executive of the Craft Guild of Chefs, Captain Geoff Acott, training resources manager at Defence Food Services School and Caterer deputy editor Amanda Afiya.
The winners' prizes included dinner for two at Wild Honey, the Mayfair restaurant recently opened by Arbutus founders Will Smith and Anthony Demetre, and the ACE Ready Steady Cook! trophy.
By Amanda Afiya