The 2013 winners of South West Chef of the Year competition were announced on Monday 28th October at the 10th anniversary presentation dinner hosted and sponsored by Exeter Golf and Country Club.
Nathan Cornwell from Lucknam Park, Bath, has been crowned the prestigious title of overall South West Chef of the Year 2013 after also winning the Young Professional Class. Andy Chan from Thornbury Castle, Bristol, was awarded the crown in the Professional Class, beating five other hopefuls to the finish line in a year which saw the highest number of entrants and of an exceptional standard.
Finalists were invited to Exeter College where they were provided with a mystery box of ingredients and given a specified time to prepare two dishes using its contents. Nathan Cornwell prepared roast loin of venison, squash purée, Savoy greens, red wine shallots, blackberries and girolles, followed by milk chocolate panna cotta, poached pears, chocolate powder and caramelised walnuts. Andy Chan cooked pan-fried Sea Bass, sautée girolles, roasted celeriac and vanilla velouté, followed by dark chocolate millefeuille, raspberries, hazelnuts and honeycomb which saw them crowned winners of the 2013 classes.
The winners of two further classes were also announced at the presentation dinner. The Junior class for aspiring young chefs aged 11-16 was won by Maia English of The King’s School, Ottery St Mary Devon who prepared caramelized Brixham scallops with celeriac purée and crispy pancetta; and the winner of the South West’s Best Dish class for home cooks was Steve Ashworth of Taunton, Somerset, who cooked chicken and potato pie with kale, cider braised carrots and beetroot.
Four further awards were presented on the night:
Best Use of Regional Produce – awarded to Beverley Milner Simonds, Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset
Best Menu – awarded to Nathan Cornwell, Lucknam Park, Bath
Best Presentation – awarded to Harriet Pecover, Jack in the Green, Rockbeare
Best Dish – awarded to Camilla Waite, Paul Ainsworth at Number 6, Padstow
for the dessert she prepared at the final of chocolate moelleux, hazelnut crumble and orange
The dinner served at the Presentation Dinner was prepared by three eminent guest chefs all previous winners of the competition: Matthew Downing (Sous Chef at Magdalen Chapter, Exeter), Tom Scade (Head Chef at Tides Restaurant, Rock) and John Walton (Head Chef at Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth at Number 6, Padstow).
South West Chef of the Year is renowned for recognising the skill and dedication of professional chefs, up and coming young chefs and amateur cooks. Over the years, the competition has highlighted the very high standards that exist in the hospitality industry in the South West, helping raise the bar for all involved and improve the profitability and sustainability of an industry that is so significant for the region’s economy.
In addition to their skills and experience, the competition enables competitors to demonstrate their understanding of and commitment to the diverse array of high quality ingredients produced in the South West of England whilst simultaneously raising awareness of its diversity and accessibility.
Despite the decision to bring more competitors to the finals, the judges – some of the finest chefs in the South West) still found the task of narrowing entries down an extremely difficult one. The standard of entries and the menus submitted grows each year as competitors vie for the prestigious and widely recognised title ‘South West Chef of the Year’. Led by Michael Caines MBE, the judging panel also included a number of other top chefs: Nathan Outlaw, Paul Ainsworth, Mark Hix, Chris and James Tanner, Simon Hulstone, among others.
“We were so impressed with the creativity exhibited by entrants this year in putting together their menus and recipes,” commented Michael Caines MBE. “Entrants put a great deal of thought into their dishes, demonstrating their skill and dedication to creating interesting and balanced menus based on the wonderful array of produce available to them here in the South West. We look forward to see what next year brings!”