Marcus Crooke from the Barceló Walton Hall & Hotel in Wellesbourne, Warwickshire has been named the 2011 Barceló Apprentice Chef of the Year.
He fought off tough competition from four other Barceló Apprentice Chef Academy (BACA) graduates after cooking roast apple and parsnip soup followed by lamb with confit garlic and caramelised cauliflower purée, in a cook-off held at the Barceló Lygon Arms Hotel, Broadway.
Twenty-year-old Crooke, a commis chef, said winning the competition was a huge honour. "I am passionate about food and I put a lot of time and effort into my menus, so it was great to see all of my hard work finally pay off."
Barceló UK regional director, Peter Montague, said that Crooke was highly commended by the judges for his creativity and confidence in the kitchen. "The competition was really tough this year and we were all impressed with the high calibre of dishes that the contestants produced."
The competition saw Crooke and the other BACA graduates (Andrew Purdie from the Barceló Redworth Hall Hotel, Kelly Glasgow from the Barceló Blackpool Imperial Hotel, Bradley Mitchell from the Barceló Cheltenham Park Hotel and Leah Wood from the Barceló Cardiff Angel Hotel) each create two dishes from a mystery basket of ingredients.
Crooke's prize was a week's work experience at the Barceló Asia Gardens Hotel in Spain and a set of professional Global Chefs knives. The other graduates were all awarded with a set of Alliance knives, a copy of Practical Cookery and a chef's jacket.
The BACA, which is supported by Babcock, was set up to improve the shortage of skilled chefs within the UK hospitality industry.
By Janet Harmer
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