An exciting competition schedule throughout the year is always a key part of our training and development schedule at Angel Hill Food Co. The most committed chefs will always weave the undoubted extra workload into their already busy schedules, to make sure that they have the best possible chance of performing on the day. We’re lucky that our industry provides fantastic opportunities in that area for chefs of all levels, all ages and in all areas of foodservice. It’s also an opportunity for us to see first-hand the latest innovations and how we might introduce them into our business. We’re very lucky indeed to have chefs with the necessary work ethic to make the most of these opportunities.
Santosh Shetty, in his natural habitat
The Salon Culinaire (this year as part of the Great Hospitality show at the NEC) is one of the stand out events of the year. With its programme of ‘live’ finals and amazing static display categories, there really is representation from right across the industry and this is one of the reasons we’re always delighted to participate.
Make no bones about it, the judging is tough. It is to an agreed international standard that takes no account of reputation or past successes. However, we thrive on the ‘buzz’ of competition where the prospect of failure is very real and proper preparation is paramount.
This year, 5 chefs made it through to the ‘live’ finals and I’m delighted to say that every one came away with an award. Jose Lara in a Vegan challenge and Nathan Rees for pasta received merit awards. Santosh Shetty received a bronze medal in a category for lamb cookery and John Fleming and Kevan Mullen performed brilliantly to receive Silver medals and best in class for their efforts in a pairs competition sponsored by Churchill China. Great efforts all round and congratulations to all those chefs, especially as only Nathan had competed before in this very stressful environment.
John Fleming and Kevan Mullen, getting ready for battle.
What’s also very clear is that they cannot achieve this on their own. Jon Whittle was a great help, as always; liaising with sponsors, equipment suppliers and the salon itself to ensure that everything was as stress-free as possible for our chefs on the day. These chefs have busy kitchens to run and rely on the support of the rest of the onsite team, from the porters to the catering managers in order to prepare properly. Rhys and Matt have also been brilliant mentors, offering practical help and advice throughout the process. I’d like to thank all involved, I know that the chefs are extremely grateful.
So what now? Well it’s back to the day job with a bit more of a spring in the step and a few good ideas in the back pocket on how we can continue to improve our service day in, day out.
Jose Lara and Chris Ince
Jose’s merit-winning vegan dish