Two major chef contests reached their dramatic finales at the HRC trade show in Excel, London on 3 and 4 March with entrants competing in live cook-offs.
Salon Culinaire is the UK’s largest chef competition with over 100 different competition categories for novices and seasoned chefs taking place across three days of the HRC show.
It is judged by more than 70 industry chefs who are all members of the Craft Guild of Chefs British Culinary Federation, the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and the Association of Pastry Chefs.
Steve Munkley, chef director of Salon Culinaire and executive chef at the Royal Garden Hotel in London's Kensington, said: “This year’s show has shown the true colours of our industry with everything that is going on in the world. We have had the most tremendous support from both competitors and visitors. The entry level has been over-subscribed twofold, and we have managed to allow all of them to compete with standards reaching new heights.”
Among the winners on the 3 March were Tristan Merrick from the Royal Navy who won bronze and best in class for the ‘Course Vegetarian or Plant Based Menu.’ Terry O’Riordan from the Craft Guild Academy won silver and best in class for ‘open lamb’. Charlotte Wakelyn Hoar from Cross Hall Hotel won gold and best in class for plated dessert and Ayesha Khan from Highbury College won gold and best in class for the series final.
Andrew Pantelis the project director of Montgomery Events said: “We have been absolutely delighted with the level of entries for the Salon this year and also the support we have had from industry has been excellent.
“What has also been great to see is so many young chefs entering The Skills Theatre cold classes – setting them well on their way in the career, so a huge thank to their mentors for investing their time in the future of the industry.”
Additionally, foodservice giant Sodexo held the final of its Sodexo Chef of the Year competition to find the best chef amongst its employees.
Nine finalists competed live in an exciting cook-off that drew hundreds of people. Ronnel Nulud head chef for energy and resources for Sodexo UK & Ireland triumphed with his menu using ‘future 50’ ingredients that are deemed to boost the nutritional value of meals while reducing their environmental impact.
Nulud said: “I wasn’t really expecting this today. After all our hard work over the past few months, and the competition’s experience as a whole, I feel blessed to have won the 2020 title of Sodexo Chef of the Year. My menu is inspired by my Asian heritage, with the plant-based starter posing quite a challenge for me – I am used to creating dishes with butter and fats – but I rose to the challenge and created my dumplings.”
He was awarded a gold trophy and can take part in a professional development programme at a top UK restaurant.