Mauro Loffredo crowned Hotel du Vin Chef of the Year
Mauro Loffredo of Hotel du Vin Brighton has been crowned this year's winner of the boutique hotel brand's annual Chef of the Year competition.
The 2015 competition took place at Hotel du Vin Birmingham and saw five finalists from across the UK compete for the title.
Loffredo said: "The competition gave me the opportunity to demonstrate everything I have learned whilse working for Hotel du Vin. Despite the fact we were competing against each other, we felt like a team working alongside each other in the kitchen.
"Winning the competition is such an honour and a great feeling of achievement but I never thought I'd actually win."
The annual competition is open to junior chefs from across Hotel du Vin's 16 properties, with the participants preparing a three-course meal from a prescribed list of ingredients.
Loffredo produced scallop ravioli with saffron velouté, tomato concasse and pea shoots as a starter; followed by ballotine of Barbary duck breast stuffed with girolles, celeriac puree and heritage carrots as the main course; finishing with a dessert of apple and pear soufflé with blackberry sorbet.
Lindsay Southward, group director of people and development at Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, said that the judges were impressed by Mauro's confidence and creative flair in the kitchen: "His talent in the kitchen has grown enormously and it was reflected in the dishes he created."
She continued: "Young people are crucial to not only to Hotel du Vin's success but to the success of our industry. They are a key part of making our hotels special, delivering memorable experiences for our guests.
"We therefore take the responsibility for our people very seriously at every stage of their career. The Chef Competition and Chef Academy are great ways for us to be able to support their development and reward enthusiasm, dedication and talent."
Lenka Berkova of Hotel du Vin St Andrews was awarded second place, while Tom Owen, Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells, came third.
In addition to prize money, the three top placed competitors will be given a mentor to guide them over the next 12 months and the opportunity to join cooking teams for major events, such as the Henley Royal Regatta.
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