This year we decided to create our very own Master Chef competition! Open to all our Chefs at the Commis and Chef De Partie levels within the business.
The idea was to get our young chefs creating dishes that would suit the menus of the pubs in which they work, in the first instance and learn to cook with what is in season. They were also taken out of their comfort zone by arriving to the first heats not having any idea what they would have to prepare.
The competition started with two heats both were identical with all chefs having to make a soup from the ingredients left on the bench by our very own Marcus Wareing, Andy…Head Chef at the Roebuck Inn where all the heats were held this was their skills test.
Then it was seabass time………… taking a full sea bass and creating their very own dish after filleting the fish successfully this was effectively the invention test.
Finally they had to buy their own ingredients for a set price and cook a dish that meant a great deal to them. This was the ‘Own Dish invention test’.
The top Five scoring Chefs progressed to the semi-final on a lovely sunny day in May. The tension mounted as they first had to look at 10 ingredients and through sight, taste or/and smell guess the ingredients. This was probably the ingredients test was the toughest test to date with white radish, sorrel and baby water melons causing the most confusion!
Once past this round the chefs had to make their own pastry in the pastry test……and they then had to create sweet or savoury dishes that included their lovely pastry!
Quiche and tarts followed aplenty and then it was on to the final round where the five chefs had to cook a dish from scratch again from costed ingredients that they had bought locally. This was the ‘Dish invention test 2’ .
Adam from the Fitz, Jack from the Church Inn and Arak from the Roebuck Inn scored the higher points to make it through to the final leaving Callum from the Three G’s and Mark from the Bulls Head to go back to their pubs having done a great job but not quite ‘smashing it’.
In true Master Chef style Arak dropped out before the final allowing Mark to take his place. Sadly Mark couldn’t take up the challenge for personal reasons so the final was held between Jack and Adam and the Final date was set in sunny June.
The final task was to cook a three course meal that would suit the menu of their pub…..a signature three course meal. The judges were Mary and Tim, with Andy and Jess from operations and Ed and Adam from our wine suppliers Boutinot.
It was a tough task for the judges let alone the chef finalists……but both chefs did an amazing job. The scores were 769 to Jack and 768 to Adam….there was a further two recounts before Jack was confirmed as the winner…..it could not have been closer.
The prize was a £1000 pay increase for the winner Jack and as it was so close, Adam in second, got a £500 pay increase too.
We are very proud of all the chefs that took part so a big thank you to them. They all showed creativity and skill while learning a lot at the same time.
Well done to Jack, a very good win for a junior chef which made his teammates at the Church Inn very proud of him.
Here’s to next year!