Simon Hulstone has won the Santa Maria Tellicherry Black Pepper recipe competition.
Hulstone, who is chef-proprietor of the Elephant restaurant in Torquay, and a culinary contest stalwart, won a trip to the pepper-producing area of Kerala, India, to see first-hand where the variety is grown and understand its journey from plant to plate, via the cutting of mature vines and the picking, drying and processing of the pepper berries.
The final took place on 16 November at L'Atelier des Chefs on London's Wigmore Street.
Hulstone cooked a dish of roasted halibut with black pepper and lemon cracker. The other finalists were Donald Marshall, executive development chef stadia, education and healthcare at Elior, who made breast of duck with crushed peppercorns; and Sushant Sanzgiri, sous chef at the Hilton London Kensington, who made venison with black pepper and artichoke kedgeree.
Spice manufacturer Santa Maria launched the recipe competition earlier this year after its research that showed chefs have a lack of knowledge about black pepper. Chefs were asked to create a dish using the Tellicherry variety that really showed off its qualities and taste.
Dan Doherty, executive chef at 24-hour London restaurant Duck & Waffle, was on the judging panel along with Barnaby MacAdam, concept chef at Santa Maria Foodservice.
He commended Hulstone for his recipe, which he felt very much matched the brief. He said: "Simon's dish tapped into the flavour profile of pepper using the delicate fruity notes. It was tough judging as all contestants really took on board the brief. The atmosphere during the cook-off was calm and organised, but one thing that shone through was how passionate each chef was about pepper."
MacAdam congratulated the chefs and said it was an honour to judge the dishes.
Hulstone added: "I'm well known to enjoy a good challenge and I love to travel so this ticked both boxes. I hadn't previously given much thought to the flavour profiles of peppercorns so I've enjoyed experimenting with Tellicherry, which has more delicate notes than many I've used before. I'm delighted to have won."