There are worse ways to spend an evening than at a cook-off by the UK’s best up and coming chefs…and that’s exactly what I did recently at the UK & Ireland Regional Final of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016. This global competition will select 20 finalists from 190 countries who will go head to head in Milan on 13 October. Having attended the launch of the competition earlier this year, I was excited to see the standard of the dishes. We were welcomed with a chilled glass of sparkling wine…
Before taking our seats at the banquet tables to watch the action unfold.
Each of the ten regional finalists had prepared a dish that would be tasted by the four judges: Claude Bosi of Hibiscus in London, JP McMahon of Cava Bodega in Galway, Ollie Dabbous of Dabbous in London and Ross Lewis of Chapter One in Dublin. As you can see, it’s quite a menu! S. Pellegrino know how to do things in style and I’d recently enjoyed their taste experience at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Whole Turbot by George Kataras of M Restaurants, London was one of the best looking dishes. George likes to cook with no food wastage, and therefore used the bones and head to add flavour to the smoked turbot sauce. As guests, we were sampling a version of the dish that wasn’t cooked by the contestants themselves but the turbot that we tried really stood out for its delicate taste.
We were encouraged to go into the open kitchen in order to see the chefs in action.
Adam Handling of The Frog in London came up with a striking dish of Burnt Beef.
It was fun to see the judges inhaling the dishes before tucking in ;-). It’s true that food should appeal to our sense of smell and vision as well as taste.
I liked the elegant simplicity of Cornelia Suehr’s Home cured, cold smoked Rainbow Trout, beetroot, Granny Smith, horse radish and white bread. Now she just needs to come up with a snappy title for it!
Whilst Lukasz Wacirz had an intriguingly titled dish, Polish Lynx in the forest with a “Pigeon” in the leaves and goose with “Saber”.
Perhaps the most attractive dish of the evening was Brandon Clemen’s Pigeon, Honey, Truffle and Carrot.
The competition was hotting up and soon the winner would be announced…
The final dish had the evocative name of After the Storm and was concocted by Alfonso Giugliano of The Cornerstone Restaurant in Cork.
And now for the result – drum-roll please…the winner of the UK & Ireland Young Chef heat is George Kataras of M Threadneedle Street for his turbot dish! Claude Bosi, who will mentor George in the final in Milan said that the standard was very high but the judges chose George’s dish for its flavour, presentation, the skill involved and the message of no waste behind it. Last year, the competition was won by Mark Moriarty from the UK, so fingers crossed for another UK winner!
What dish would you cook if competing?
S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016