The 2017 prestigious South West Chef of the Year competition is open for applications. The highly anticipated culinary contest is the only one in the UK with the aim of finding the very best regional talent from not one but five categories including professional and young professional chefs, students and apprentices, junior cooks under 16 years and home cooks. The South West’s culinary reputation has long been lauded, shaped by its bountiful lands and coastline that create outstanding produce and in turn inspire an increasingly long list of home-grown, Michelin-starred chefs. The peninsula’s passion for delicious and sustainably sourced food and drink is recognised and nurtured by the South West Chef of the Year as it aims once again to find the region’s hottest talent.
Lead judge, Michael Caines MBE of Lympstone Manor, who has championed the competition since 2004, said: “South West Chef of the Year has always aimed to not only provide a springboard for the region’s emerging chefs but also to inspire home cooks of all ages and to help young people to make cooking a career choice. I have always said that the South West is home to some of the best food in the world but the industry always needs new blood and I invite all those with a passion for cooking, for wonderful ingredients and the produce we have in abundance here in the region to enter South West Chef of the Year. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn, to improve and be challenged.”
Michael added, “Exmoor has an amazing larder ranging from venison, lamb and beef from our North Devon cattle, all the way to seafood from the coastline. This produce enables us to produce high-quality dishes.”
Michael will be joined by an impressive list of judges from the region’s most esteemed venues, including Michael Wignall of Gidleigh Park and Chris and James Tanner of Barbican Kitchen and Kentish Hare. The judges will be looking for competitors who display the highest standards of cooking as well as flair and creativity. The competition is renowned for its mentorship of contestants, with those entering the final rounds receiving invaluable feedback in a supportive environment.
Entry to the first round of the competition opened on 1 June with four of the five categories now taking online applications until 31 July at www.southwestchef.co.uk. Those interested in applying should devise and submit a two-course menu that includes the compulsory ingredients set for their category.
The Professional Chefs category includes those working as a sous chef, pastry chef or above. Menus submitted for this category should include saddle of lamb (on the bone) and pollack and mussels. ‘Young Professional Chefs’ entering the competition includes those working in any position up to and including junior sous chef and aged 19 to 24 years. Their compulsory ingredients are pork tenderloin and red mullet.
‘Student and Apprentice Chefs’ are those at college or in an apprenticeship and aged 16 to 19 years; their menus should include beef sirloin (untrimmed) and John Dory and clams or cockles. Finally, those entering the Home Cooks Class (those who have never worked or trained in the catering industry aged from 16 years) must create a menu that includes a main course of best end of lamb or sea bass and a dessert with fruits of the autumn (apples, pears, quince, berries).
Those selected by the judges to go through to the next round will be asked to recreate their menus at semi-finals and finals taking place in September and October.
Entry is via an online entry form available at www.southwestchef.co.uk/how-to-enter/ by the deadline of Monday 31 July 2017.