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28th February 2023

Mathew secures National Chef of Wales title at fifth attempt

Written by: Edward Waddell
Mathew Smith, a 39-year-old chef who lives near Newtown, has won a final cook-off against eight rival chefs to win the title at the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC).

The competition is organised by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) and is held at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s campus in Rhos-on-Sea.

Mathew was supported by 17-year-old commis Amy Phillips from Cheshire College South & West in Crewe, where he works as a chef lecturer. Mathew’s winning prize was £500, a set of engraved knives from Friedr Dick, £250 worth of Churchill products and the coveted dragon trophy.

Commenting on his win, Mathew said: “It means everything to me because I have committed so much to training and developing myself and sacrificed money, time and mental health. This was going to be my last attempt to win the National Chef of Wales competition.

“I have put in a huge amount of work with the Culinary Team Wales, training junior members and making mistakes. Last year, I was too egotistical, thinking I was going to win the final and it gave me a kick in the teeth and showed me that I needed to listen to the advice I was given.

“It’s great that the dragon trophy has come back to Mid Wales (Nick Evans in 2006 and Neil Roberts in 2008 are previous winners). I also want to thank my commis Amy who is phenomenal. We did the full run through of the dishes seven times and the final was the best they had come out. Everything just flowed.”

The finalists cooked their own creative menu for a three course dinner for 12 people within five hours, using  a majority of Welsh ingredients. Mathew’s winning menu included:

  • Starter: Baked carrot, pickled and creamed carrot, granola, tuille of carrot and carraway, cream of coconut and masala
  • Main: Loin of lamb, mousseline, tart of neck and chives, sheep’s cheese, broccoli, sticky braised celeriac, leek top emulsion, crispy roscoff onion, pomme puree and jus
  • Dessert: Milk chocolate delice, hazelnut biscuit, dark chocolate mousse, blackberry ice cream, meringue, blackberries, warm chocolate hazelnut financier and praline

The runner-up was Sophie Rowe, chef de partie at Gaerwen Arms in Anglesey, who received £300. Joint third were Wayne Barnard, Jamie Tully, Matthew Owen, David Williams, Robert Cave, Dan Andree and Dalton Weir.