Simon Crockford, head chef at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, has been crowned National Chef of Wales 2017.
Crockford from Tenby competed in the final on the last day of the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC) held at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos-on-Sea, yesterday (23 February).
He also wins an all-expenses paid, one-week culinary trip to the Netherlands courtesy of Koppert Cress, which includes an ‘inspirational day' with a Cress coach and visits to top restaurants, a set of F. Dick knives, £250 worth of products from Churchill China and Gourmet Classic shopping vouchers.
Crockford will also represent Wales in the UK National Chef of the Year contest and the World Chefs' Global Chef European semi-final in October.
His winning menu included a starter of scorched mackerel and cured Swansea Bay sauce, rice, pickled beetroot, apple, salted cucumber, horseradish salad cream and sea herbs. His main course was Pembrokeshire free-range chicken, sage, onion spelt, red cabbage purée, mushroom espuma, Halen Môn salted herb faggot, charred sweetcorn and chicken jus. Dessert was a Carmarthenshire Nomnom chocolate mousse, peanut butter, shortbread caramel ganache, banana parfait and chocolate soil.
He said: "The final was a lot tougher than what I thought it would be. I work in probably the biggest resort in Europe, but that was the hardest three hours I have ever done and I honestly didn't think I would be holding the trophy. It's a reward for a lot of hard work."
Thomas Westerland, sous chef at Lucknam Park hotel near Bath, was runner-up. The other finalists were Jason Hughes from the Gwesty Carreg Bran hotel, Anglesey; Matthew Smith, of Mirrens restaurant, Newtown; and Matthew Ramsdale from the Chester Grosvenor, who all won bronze medals; and Anthony Bush from the Heronston hotel, Bridgend, who received a merit.
Judges included Dragan Unic, Worldchefs' continental director for Northern Europe; Colin Gray of Capital Cuisine; Stuart McLeod, development director at Zuidam UK; and Alan Shipman, executive food development chef at Sodexo.
The WICC are organised by the Culinary Association of Wales and the main sponsor is Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government's department representing the food and drink industry. Other sponsors include Meat Promotion Wales/Hybu Cig Cymru, Castell Howell, Harlech Foodservice, Nuttalls, Churchill, MCS Technical Products, Roller Grill, Koppert Cress and F. Dick Knives.
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