Spring 09 - Southern success

12/04/2013 11:04
The two day Wessex Salon Culinaire at the Hotel & Catering Show in Bournemouth in March provided a host of interesting dishes and awards galore for contestants.

The 2009 Wessex Salon Culinaire received its best ever record of entries this year – 550 in total, making it the UK’s largest live culinary competition.

Organised by the Craft Guild of Chefs and sponsored by Nestlé Professional’s CHEF brand, Coastline Produce and the Bournemouth & Poole College, this prestigious culinary challenge provided chefs with the opportunity to take part in a wide range of hot, cold and static classes to test their skills and creativity.

Sterling performances were put in by students from all the colleges such as Westminster Kingsway and Bournemouth & Poole. Westminster Kingsway notched up a tally of 14 awards – 11 golds with several best in class, and Bournemouth & Poole eight awards – seven golds including three best in class.

Sponsors’ winners included De Ming Li from the Sandbanks Hotel in Bournemouth and David Ingle from the Oakley Court Hotel in Berkshire who won silver and gold respectively at the CHEF at Salon competition, and Ian Gibbs from the Coventry Arms in Dorset who won first place at the Chefs Forum Chef of the Year contest sponsored by Coastline Produce and Bournemouth & Poole College.

Mark Roberts, chair of judges for the Wessex Salon Culinaire and the southern representative for the Craft Guild, says that the standard going into these competitions is growing year on year. “Over the past five years we have witnessed the Wessex Salon Culinaire grow considerably, culminating in a record breaking number of competition entries this year.

“This competition has become an essential showcase for training with more than 20 colleges competing from across the UK. Next year we anticipate another rise in entries.”

Competition organiser Craft Guild vice president Steve Scuffell says that for next year he hopes to have a reshuffle in the competitions. “We are going to bring student days into day two of the show as well as the first day mainly to cope with the volume as we don’t want to turn students away.” Overall he says the standard across the board was brilliant. “There was exceptional work all over the country. The standard was the best we have ever had. It was also a brilliant experience for the college students as well as an excellent networking opportunity for them.”

For Scuffell, one of the highlights of the show was during the second day when the House of Commons won gold – best in class for its “exceptional” set show platter. It also won silver for the main course plates class.

It was also the first time the Guild had presented trophies for the best local – Dorset and Hampshire – cost sector and profit sector entries.

He was however disappointed that there weren’t as many local teams putting themselves forward to compete as he had hoped. “I don’t think people in Bournemouth realise what they have right on their doorstep,” says Scuffell.

The Hotel & Catering show, which has been established for more than 50 years, was also declared a success by the organisers. Craft Guild business partners such as Essential Cuisine, Gourmet Classic, Nestlé Professional, Rational UK, Unilever Foodsolutions and Villeroy & Boch showcased their ideas and products on their stands over the two days. Nestlé, which sponsored the live competition theatre, also proudly displayed its newly acquired Craft Guild product endorsement.

Buzzing with enthusiasm and excitement, visitors and local chefs also gathered at the Bournemouth & Poole College Knorr cookery theatre, sponsored by Unilever Foodsolutions, to watch top industry chefs such as Cyrus Todiwala, Giles Thompson and Nick Parnell.

Thompson, chef patron of The Earl of March, Chichester, demonstrated lobster thermidor, while Unilever’s business development chef Nick Parnell demonstrated the use of Knorr stock reduction in his pan fried venison with petit pois á la française and port and black pepper reduction, and poached beef fillet with glazed baby vegetable and a port jus dishes.

Crowds gathered to watch Todiwala, chef owner of Café Spice Namasté, who gave an insight into the dishes he serves at his London restaurant stressing the importance of sourcing local produce where possible. He produced a simple fish kofta curry dish and a classic pork vindaloo dish.

Other chefs demonstrating their talents included Ian Gibbs of The Coventry Arms and consultant chef Sophie Wright.

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