Winter 2008 - Olympic Success

12/04/2013 11:04
Craft Guild chefs stole the show at the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, proudly returning home with a hoard of medals.

The Brits went to Germany in force to showcase their culinary talents with one goal in mind – to bring back as many medals as possible.

All 15 members of the Guild's Culinary Academy spent the four days in mid October battling it out fiercely with 32 teams from across the world.

The academy's team had to compete in three cold live categories: cold larder displays; prepared hot restaurant food displayed cold; and patisserie skills with centrepiece, and members had roughly three days to prepare their entries. But the hard work paid off and the Culinary Academy team, headed by Andy Twells, scooped a fantastic 14 medals – one gold, eight silver and five bronze.

James Davies of Eton College won gold for his cold platter and six starters. The festive platter of forest and field featured ingredients such as cured loin of Tamworth pork with bean forcement and garden herbs and garnish of squash.

His starters included smoked fillet of Thames eel with a pike mousse, champagne foam, seared red mullet, open lasagne of wilted greens with shellfish sauce, as well as twice baked stilton soufflé with creamed sauce of chanterelle and leek sauce.

Sophie Wright won silver with her restaurant platter that was made up of fillet of pork with black pudding farce, roasted pork belly, fondant potato, Savoy cabbage bonbon. Her other creations included poached monkfish with seafood mousse, stuffed baby fennel, saffron infused cannelloni beans, roasted garlic velouté, and pan roasted venison with pistachio farce and cured game sausage.

Wright says her experience of the competition was tough but worth every second: “It was long and hard but the experience was phenomenal and just out of this world.

“It was an eye opening experience to compete on a world stage and a privilege to work with world class chefs. I am delighted with the results. Everyone worked very hard and I am proud to say I have played a part in the Culinary Academy,” she adds.

However it wasn't all fun and games for the chefs, as the going got tough during the contest. But that is the nature of the game, says Twells. “I don't think they realised the actual scale of the event and just how high the standard was, especially towards the end where their emotions began to show in the face of such expectation.

“You should expect to go through the whole range of emotions – from stress to crashing confidence and finally elation when you receive your award, a real rollercoaster.”

The atmosphere and the quality of the dishes created were immense, he adds. “The standard as ever was incredibly high and the team did a fantastic job. We matched the best in the world.”

The team's sponsors – Brakes, Electrolux Professional, Essential Cuisine and Gourmet Classic – were full of praise for the competitors. Essential Cuisine managing director Nigel Crane says it was the competition that gave these chefs the chance to let their natural talent shine. “The competition gave the team the opportunity to exhibit their own works of art in a high profile arena, gave them an insight into their foreign colleagues' methods and ideas, and opened the team's eyes to the exemplary standards out there globally.”

Rebecca Tustain, channel marketing manager at Brakes, says the competition was more to do with improving skills and developing the future's up and coming chefs: “Their impressive medal haul demonstrates why the academy is so necessary in helping nurture this country's future talent and how important it is to develop our skills base.

“British food and produce is among the best in the world and this next generation of chefs shows just how strong the talent pool is out there in the industry.”

Overwhelmed by the results, John Retallick from Gourmet Classic says: “What an achievement! For a team of young chefs to go to the world's most important culinary event and return with the amount of awards they did was a massive achievement. We at Gourmet Classic are very proud to be one of the sponsors.”

Electrolux managing director Andrew Jones says a big well done was in order for all who took part in the challenge. “The teams worked long days and nights to achieve their best to bring home the medals they rightly deserved. It is im portant the industry embraces such professionalism and accomplishment of the competitors representing British culinary excellence.”

But we mustn't forget the mentors' efforts during the sweat and tears, says Twells. “The academy's ethos of making mentorship available to all was cemented in the acts of two senior mentors travelling 630 miles just for the weekend to support the academy and the mentors already involved. Unfortunately they couldn't make it for the whole of the event, however their selfless efforts helped the team achieve what they ultimately did.”

It wasn't only the Craft Guild's team that returned with triumph. The Compass Group came back with an amazing two gold medals, 12 silvers, and three bronze.

Nick Vadis, UK executive chef of the Compass Group as well as Guild chairman, said it was a great achievement for the team who worked extremely hard, entering a number of different classes and demonstrating a range of skills. “As the only UK contract caterer to enter the Culinary Olympics, it was a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the brightest talent in the business.”

The British Culinary Federation's junior and senior teams arrived back with a hoard of 35 medals. The senior team, led by Simon Hulstone of the Elephant Restaurant in Torquay, Devon, and this year's winner of the Knorr National Chef of the Year competition, secured 25 silver medals, while the junior team led by Westminster Kingsway College's Simon Stocker took home five silver and five bronze medals.

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