On the 29th-30th May, the Craft Guild of Chefs held its annual Wessex Salon Culinaire. Co-hosted with Brockenhurst College in Hampshire, student chefs showcased their broad range of talent and skills.
Now in its sixth year held at Brockenhurst College, the competition is designed to provide young competitors with their first taste of professional competition experience. All competitions are judged by many established chefs in the hospitality industry. This year, more than 270 culinary students from across the country competed.
Steve Scuffell, Craft Guild of Chefs chairman of vice presidents and organiser of the Wessex Salon Culinaire said: “Having been there since day one, this year’s event ranked very high up the scale. All three new competitions were a great success. Change is necessary for regional salons to make them work and remain sustainable.”
He adds, “We couldn’t have done this without our sponsors and thank them for their continued support. As always, the real buzz is to see the competitors grow in stature over the course of the competition and walk away enriched from the experience. Well done to everyone!”
The spectacular event is one of the biggest and most exciting competitions in the UK. Divided into five different categories: live hot, live cold, restaurant, cold static and bakery. It is open to student chefs, front of house staff and patissiers. This year, the Craft Guild of Chefs incorporated three new live hot competitions, BBQ cook-off, team cook and serve, and the Eric Bruce memorial trophy canapé challenge.
Gold award recipients included Louis Haynes from Brockenhurst College for the risotto challenge (pictured top right), Samantha Gibb from Brooklands College for the afternoon tea pastries tasted, Shanay Thomas from Central Bedfordshire College for the Rollover hotdog competition, and Hannah Pace from Exeter College for the live hot fine dining class.
The judges were led by Steve Scuffell. His team included amongst others, compere for the live hot classes, Kevin Bryne and chef Alun Davies, RAF flight sergeant based at Worthy Down- food services wing. Each competition had its own judging criteria and marked independently on merit.
During the brand-new BBQ cook off, all competitors used a minimum of one product from Major International’s Mari- Base range in their main dishes. For two competitions it was also compulsory to use a Mari-Base product for coleslaw and a ketchup- based sauce. Competitors chose from flavours such as Moroccan Piri Piri, Fajita, Korean, Caribbean Jerk, Barbecue and Mediterranean.
Ben Bartlett, president at the British BBQ Association and a BBQ cook-off judge comments:
“The Wessex Salon Culinaire has established itself as one of the premier chef competitions of the year and it is a fantastic opportunity for young chefs to showcase their talent on a national platform and be recognised for their ability.”
Professional chefs, lecturers and students took part in the BBQ cook-off. Gold award winners included Kial Zandburgen and Michael Jefferson from the Royal Air Force culinary arts team.
Bartlett adds, “This year we introduced a BBQ cook-off with double-walled insulated charcoal keg barbeques and the high calibre of entrants was very encouraging. Some of the dishes created had wonderful base flavours from Mexico, India, Morocco and the Caribbean. The experience of competitions like this helps chefs develop new barbequing skills and provides them with the experience that will help them with their future careers in the hospitality industry.”
Many competitors took to social media congratulating each other on winning awards and complimented the successful event. Farnborough College and The Gallery Restaurant said, “What a great day. Thanks, @WCulinaire for providing a platform for young chefs to showcase their skill and develop their passion. @stephenscuffell and team do a great job. Also, we won the Eric Eric Bruce memorial trophy canapé challenge, first place. Well done to all.”
Rob Allsworth from Broadstairs college and organiser of the Eric Bruce memorial trophy canapé challenge said: “Massive thanks @Craft_Guild for @WCulinaire another great Salon & perfect starting point for young chefs & waiters to get excited about competing!”
The full list of winners will be announced on the Craft Guild of Chefs website: www.craftguildofchefs.org