Welsh Chefs Conference News

Abergavenny Chef Crowned Brains Best

30th September 2009

Matthew Lewis

Brains Chef of the Year — Matthew Lewis

An Abergavenny pub chef has been crowned Brains chef of the year 2009. Matthew Lewis, from the Lamb and Flag in Llanwenarth, fought off strong competition to take the title after delighting judges with his three course menu.

Matthew was one of six chefs taking part in the competition, held at the head office of Castell Howell Foods in Cross Hands. Each chef was called upon to create and cook a three course menu based on the style of food suited to their pub. They were judged on presentation, taste, balance of dishes and food safety.

Deciding on the winning menu was a five strong judging panel made up of Welsh Culinary Association members Arwyn Watkins, Colin Gray, Nick Davies, Waynne Roberts and Gareth Johns.

Judges described Matthew as delivering the most consistent performance across three courses, which included a starter of Steamed Mussels and Chorizo, a main course of Mediterranean Chicken and Tagliatelle and a Chocolate and Cherry Tiramisu dessert. He was presented with a cheque from Brains, vouchers from Nestle and a knife set from Rational.

Jamie Lewis from Churchills Hotel in Cardiff and Martin Morgan from The Star in Dinas Powys were named runner-up. The remaining finalists were Claire Barrell from the Lamb & Flag; Adam Tudor from Churchills; and Gareth Webb from the Black Lion in Lampeter.

Arwyn Watkins of the Welsh Culinary Association said: "The overall standard was very good and the judges identified a number of dishes that have been developed as a direct result of the competition that would grace any pub menu. A very good indicator of the quality and standard of the cooking was demonstrated by clean plates following the judges tasting."

"It was a pleasure being involved in the development and execution of this competition and a secure foundation has been established to help raise the profile of the chefs skills across the Brains estate."

Jill Matthews with the judges and finalists

Jill Matthews with the judges (Left) and finalists (Right)

Jill Matthews, Head of Catering at Brains added: "Long gone are the days when pub food was limited to a poor ploughman's or a packet of cheese and onion crisps. Brains pubs today are serving great food whether they are in the heart of the community with a regular trade of locals or in a drive to location with a more sophisticated food offer. Customers are increasingly choosing to eat in our pubs where they know they can get both great food and value in preference to restaurants."

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Success As Chef And Food Events Showcase Welsh Cuisine

Posted: 25th September 2009

The combination of two major events to showcase Welsh cuisine at its very best has been declared a big success by the organisers.

Chefs and food producers converge on Cross Hands for the second Welsh Chefs Conference, which was being held in association with a Christmas Catering Exhibition organised and hosted by leading independent food wholesalers Castell Howell Foods.

The two day conference gave chefs an opportunity to share their knowledge and skills, to meet more than 50 food suppliers and to learn more about the Applied Ability Award (AAA), a training programme designed to benchmark skills in the Welsh catering and hospitality industry.

Visitors to the conference saw some of Wales' top chefs competing and demonstrating their skills.

Arwyn Watkins, managing director of Cambrian Training Company, who organised the conference in association with Tourism Training for Wales, said there was a natural synergy between the two events.

"We would like to continue this relationship with Castell Howell Foods and build on it next year," he added. "It's a great opportunity for chefs, food producers and other delegates to network and learn from each other.

"We couldn't stage this event without the chefs who put themselves up for competition, demonstrate their skills and learn from the experience.

"These events are very important for the development of chefs in Wales. I receive phone calls every week from businesses looking for skilled young chefs, who are desperately needed in he industry."

Brian Jones, managing director of Castell Howell Foods, said the two events complimented each other and his company was delighted to be associated with the Welsh Chefs Conference and the talented young chefs competing.

"Castell Howell Foods has grown on the back of the catering trade and we are very grateful," he added. "The food industry in Wales has developed at an unbelievable pace in the last six of seven years and who knows how far it can go?

"The Welsh tourism industry, which is worth £3 billion a year to Wales, is going to depend enormously on these talented young people in the catering and hospitality sector."

SkillsCompetition Wales intermediate and advanced competitions for chefs were held, with the competitors potentially having a chance to go forward to represent their country at WorldSkills UK.

The intermediate competition was won by Kelly Thomas, 21, of The Plough Inn, Rhosmaen, Llandeilo, who held off a strong challenge from Kristian Fuchs, 18, of Pembrokeshire College. Lewis Keane, 18, and Dylan Timperley, 19, both from Coleg Llandrillo Cymru was third and fourth respectively and Andrew Hudson, 19, from Pembrokeshire College, was fifth.

Kelly Thomas

Kelly Thomas cooking her way to victory in the
Skills Competition Wales intermediate contest.

Kelly's winning two-course menu was roasted fillet of beef on tarragon creamed cabbage and poached monkfish tail with a port wine jus, followed by honey scented raspberries and plums with a crisp filo gallette, Penderyn Whisky cream, raspberry foam and chocolate layer.

Kelly, who is now planning to enter the National Chef of Wales contest in November, will be will be three months too old to compete in WorldSkills 2011 in London.

The other four chefs have therefore agreed to attend a mentoring training programme with experienced chefs with a view to representing Wales at the WorldSkills UK heats in Sussex in March.

The ultimate aim of the talented young Welsh chefs is to secure a place in the UK team for WorldSkills 2011 in London, where they will be up against the best in the world in their vocation.

Winner of the SkillsCompetition Wales advanced competition was David Jones from Llangoed Hall, Llyswen, near Brecon, who held off a challenge from Jonathan Fryer, of The Golden Lion, Magor and Colin Lewis, of Llwyn Hall Country House Hotel, Llanelli.

David Jones

David Jones in action in the
Skills Competition Wales advanced contest,
which he won.

The other three competing chefs were Christos Samios of Ocean Bar and Restaurant, Broad Haven, Annette Caldwell from Deeside College, Connah's Quay and Mark Helm, from Gardd y Nos Restaurant, Aberporth.

Jones' winning menu included a starter of pan-fried sea bass on a bed of lemon risotto with steamed mussels and a red pepper foam. Main course was a duo of lamb (Ballontine of kidney, lamb loin and spinach and lamb cutlet) with celeriac rosti, smoked butternut squash puree and glazed lentils in red wine. The dessert was rhubarb and Mascarpone mousse on a fan of pear poached in red wine and topped with apple and thyme granita.

The conference also hosted the final of the Brain's Chef of the Year contest, which was won by Matthew Lewis from the Lamb and Flag, Abergavenny.

Gareth Johns

Gareth Johns demonstrates Celtic fusion
at the conference.

Interactive cookery demonstrations were given by Gareth Johns from the Wynnstay Hotel, Machynlleth, Nick Davies, Global Chefs Challenge gold medallist from Cambrian Training Company, Welshpool, Colin Gray from Capital Cuisine, Cardiff, Mike Bates, an award-winning consultant chef and Oliver Nell, a Knorr development chef.

First day of the conference ended with a Gala Dinner cooked by some of Wales' finest chefs at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

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Chef And Food Events Combine To Showcase Welsh Cuisine

Posted: 8th September 2009

Two major events are combining next week to showcase Welsh cuisine at its very best.

Chefs and food producers will converge on Cross Hands on September 22 and 23 for the second Welsh Chefs Conference, which is being held in association with a Christmas Catering Exhibition organised and hosted by leading independent food wholesalers Castell Howell Foods.

The two day conference gives chefs an opportunity to share their knowledge and skills, to meet more than 50 food suppliers and to learn more about the Applied Ability Award (AAA), a training programme designed to benchmark skills in the Welsh catering and hospitality industry.

Visitors to the conference will see some of Wales’ top chefs competing and demonstrating their skills. SkillsCompetition Wales intermediate and advanced competitions for chefs will be held, with the winners potentially having a chance to go forward to represent their country at WorldSkills UK.

The ultimate aim of the most talented young Welsh chefs is to secure a place in the UK team for WorldSkills 2011 in London, where they will be up against the best in the world in their vocation.

The conference also hosts the final of the Brain’s Chef of the Year contest, with six chefs competing for the title.

Interactive cookery demonstrations will be given by leading Welsh chefs Gareth Johns from the Wynnstay Hotel, Machynlleth, Nick Davies, Global Chefs Challenge gold medallist from Cambrian Training Company, Welshpool, Colin Gray from Capital Cuisine, Cardiff and Mike Bates, an award-winning consultant chef.

First day of the conference ends with a Gala Dinner cooked by some of Wales’ finest chefs at the stunning National Botanic Garden of Wales. Second day features the Brain’s Chef of the Year final, demonstrations by Gray and Bates, a masterclass by a Knorr development chef and a Ready Steady Cook contest.

"This really is an event not to be missed by chefs and anyone with an interest in quality Welsh food," said Arwyn Watkins, managing director of Cambrian Training Company, who has organised the conference in association with Tourism Training for Wales.

"We have put together an exciting mix of competitions, demonstrations by leading Welsh chefs and a gala dinner at one of the country's leading attractions. It’s a great opportunity for chefs, food producers and other delegates to network and learn from each other."

Serving more than 4,000 customers across a wide range of organisations, including hospitals, hotels, restaurants, pubs, cafes, hospitals, schools and leisure establishments, Castell Howell Foods provides a one stop shop for caterers across Wales and the West Country..

Managing director Brian Jones is passionate about putting Wales on the food map and takes pride in sourcing and promoting indigenous produce, offering a wide range of quality Welsh foods.

For more information about Welsh Chefs Conference contact Karen Smith at Tourism Training for Wales on Tel: 02920 495174 or 07977 271572.

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Competitions Offer Chefs In Wales
A Passport To Success

Posted: 16th July 2009

Time is running out for talented chefs in Wales to enter exciting competitions that could provide them with a passport to international success.

Entries close on July 31 for the SkillsCompetition Wales intermediate and advanced competitions to be held at the second Welsh Chefs Conference.

The conference is this year being held in association with Castell Howell Foods' Christmas Catering Show at Cross Hands on September 22 and 23.

SkillsCompetition Wales is a feeder competition to WorldSkills UK, with the winner potentially having a chance to go forward to represent their country at WorldSkills UK.

The intermediate competition is open to all chefs under the age of 25 on January 1 this year who work or study in Wales. Chefs will be given 90 minutes to prepare, cook and present a main course and dessert for two covers.

The advanced competition is for chefs of all ages, with judges keen to identify highly skilled competitors capable of representing Wales in future World Association of Chefs' Societies competitions. Chefs will be allowed two hours to prepare, cook and present a three-course meal.

In both competitions, chefs will be expected to prepare a range of dishes using specific ingredients set out in the competition brief whilst also using their creative flair.

The ultimate aim of the most talented young Welsh chefs is to secure a place in the UK team for WorldSkills 2011 in London, where they will match their skills against the best in the world in their vocation. To go forward from SkillsCompetition Wales to WorldSkills UK, chefs must be born on or after January 1, 1989.

Backed by the Welsh Assembly Government and funded by the European Social Fund, SkillsCompetition Wales aims to find Wales' most talented vocational and trades people and boost their skills to world class standards. It involves colleges and training providers across Wales holding competitions in a wide range of skills sectors.

The SkillsCompetition Wales for chefs is organised by Cambrian Training Company in partnership with National Training Federation Wales, Fforwm, Tourism Training For Wales, People 1st and The Hospitality Provider Network.

Competition entry forms can be downloaded from our Resources page.

For more information contact Karen Smith at Tourism Training for Wales on Tel: 02920 495174 or 07977 271572.

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Chef Mentors Join Students In
Benchmarking Their Skills

Posted: 12th June 2009

Nicola Wynn

Nicola Wynn in the heat of the action during the AAA examination

Mentors are joining their candidates in achieving a new award that is designed to benchmark skills in the catering and hospitality industry in Wales.

James Horrigan and Nicola Wynn, training coordinators with Caernarfon based Arfon Dwyfor Training, considered it so important that they knew everything about the Applied Ability Award (AAA) that they put themselves forward for the professional cookery examination last month.

James Horrigan

James Horrigan in action during the AAA examination

Both passed the AAA Foundation Chef certificate with flying colours and they now plan to progress to the AAA Chef level. Another chef to take and pass the examination on the same day was Timothy Wilkes, head chef at the Black Lion, Babell, Caerwys, who was mentored by James.

"Nicola and I decided that if we were going to deliver the AAA and help mentor chefs it would be a good idea to take the examination ourselves," explained James, 36, a chef with 15 years' experience. "Now we have more idea of what is involved and can pass on first hand experience to our candidates.

"I think the AAA is a great benchmark, which will sort the good from the bad in the industry. Having the AAA on your CV gives you a foot in the door straight away when you go for an interview. It's a real step forward for the industry and I think all employers should take it on board."

Nicola, 39, who became a training coordinator three years ago, still keeps her hand in as a chef by working at the British Grand Prix every year. She said the AAA exam was a good challenge and gave it a glowing endorsement.

"The AAA reinforces NVQ’s and candidates come away with a much better qualification based on their ability and knowledge," she added.

Amanda Webb

Amanda Webb prepares desserts
during the AAA examination

Other mentors delivering the AAA, who have achieved the Foundation Chef certificate, are NVQ assessors Amanda Webb, 36, and Fiona Sylver, 35, from VT Training, Cardiff and Justin Robinson, a training officer from Cambrian Training Company based in Aberaeron.

Amanda, who passed the March examination, has also mentored James Hillier, a chef for Avenance at Companies House, Cardiff, who passed the May exam. She plans to progress to the Chef level award.

"I think the AAA is brilliant because it's bringing back the practical skills," said Amanda, a former chef. "Taking the examination adds to our credibility and helps us to explain the process when we are mentoring. All the chefs and managers that we speak to are very keen about AAA."

Justin Robinson, who spent 15 years as a chef and restaurant manager before becoming a training officer, said he had enjoyed the AAA examination and planned to progress to the Chef level award.

Justin Robinson

Justin Robinson prepares a tart

"I decided to the take the exam to understand how best to deliver the AAA and mentor candidates," he added. "I think the AAA is going to raise standards and boost confidence in the industry."

The AAA examination is split into three parts: a three-and-a-half hour practical cookery test, an on-line knowledge test and a 20-minute interview. The AAA programme aims to drive up standards in the hospitality and catering industry in Wales by improving the skills of existing and aspiring chefs and cooks.

The programme in Wales is fully funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and delivered by award-winning training provider Cambrian Training Company in partnership with Tourism Training for Wales.

In the May examinations, National Chef of Wales winner Neil Roberts, co-owner of the Waggon and Horses, Newtown, achieved the AAA Chef level certificate and also mentored his junior chef Matthew Smith to the Foundation Chef certificate.

Other chefs and cooks to achieve the AAA Foundation Chef certificate were: Peter Brimble Cripple Creek Inn, Raglan, Dafydd Davies, Falcondale Hotel, Lampeter, Joyce Griffiths, Min-y-Mor Care Home, Aberaeron, Gail Kelsey and Gwen Lionel, Ceredigion Catering, Aberystwyth, Colin Lewis Llwyn Hotel, Llanelli, Catherine Lynch, Northop Hall County Hotel, Northop, near Mold and Tom Middleton, Hotel Maes y Neuadd, Talsarnau, Harlech.

Ruth Morris, AAA coordinator in Wales, congratulated all the candidates and said the AAA programme was an excellent way to not only benchmark chefs and cooks but also everyone delivering vocational qualifications in the catering and hospitality industry in Wales.

The AAA programme aims to guide up to 180 chefs and cooks to achieve Applied Ability Awards at either Foundation or Chef Level over the next two years through on-the-job training and mentorship followed by the practical exam.

Learners are mentored by experienced chefs and cooks in their workplace and have access to an online virtual chef channel to support the learning in preparation for the exams.

Ruth Morris can be contacted on Tel: 07989 470899 or by e-mail at aaa@cambriantraining.com. For more information about AAA visit www.greatbritishkitchen.co.uk/aaa

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Nine Welsh Candidates Achieve New
Chef Award

Posted: 9th April 2009

Nine candidates, including four cooks employed by Ceredigion County Council, are celebrating after achieving a new award designed to benchmark skills in the catering and hospitality industry in Wales.

They received the Applied Ability Award Foundation Chef certificate after passing professional cookery examinations at Coleg Llandrillo Cymru and Ystrad Mynach College during March. The examination was split into three parts: a three-and-a-half hour practical cookery test, an on-line knowledge test and a 20-minute interview.

The AAA programme aims to drive up standards in the hospitality and catering industry in Wales by improving the skills of existing and aspiring chefs and cooks.

The programme in Wales is fully funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and delivered by award-winning training provider Cambrian Training Company in partnership with Tourism Training for Wales.

The successful cooks employed by Ceredigion County Council are Aerona Davies, cook in charge at Aberystwyth Day Care Centre, Karen Freeman, cook at Llanilar Primary School, Susan Owens, cook at Ysgol y Dderi, Llangyby, near Lampeter and Mike Horwood, cook at Min-y-Mor residential home for the elderly in Aberaeron.

The other chefs celebrating are Gerwyn Williams of Hotel Maes-y-Neuadd, Talsarnau, near Harlech, Lukasz Nowakowski, head chef at the Iota Restaurant, Cardiff, Sam Forbes, a commis chef at the Harboumaster Hotel, Aberaeron and Fiona Sylver and Amanda Webb from VT Training, Cardiff who are NVQ assessors.

The Welsh candidates were joined by chefs from Ireland, Scotland and Holland at the examinations.

Scott Anthony, executive director for the AAA National Committee, which oversees the examinations, said he hoped the successful candidates would now progress to the AAA at Chef level. Seven candidates from Wales who failed the examination were encouraged by the examiners to apply again for September.

Ruth Morris, AAA co-ordinator in Wales, congratulated all the candidates. "All nine candidates have worked exceedingly hard," she said. "Those that didn't pass did not disgrace themselves and I look forward to them taking the examination again."

Delighted to achieve the Foundation Chef award, Aerona Davies, 45, is keen to progress to the next level. "The examination was a very good experience, as it was the first time that I had ever cooked under pressure with two top chefs watching and tasting my work," she said.

"I was nervous at the beginning, but I enjoyed it and I would advise other cooks and chefs to take the examination because I learned a lot of new skills."

At Aberystwyth Day Care Centre, Aerona has two catering assistants working with her and they cater for around 120 people at lunchtime every day. From April 20, the catering team will be producing a further 70 meals for a nursery.

The AAA programme aims to guide up to 180 chefs and cooks to achieve Applied Ability Awards at either Foundation or Chef level over the next two years through on-the-job training and mentorship followed by an independent practical exam.

Learners are mentored by experienced chefs and cooks in their workplace and have access to an online virtual chef channel to support the learning in preparation for the exams.

Ruth Morris can be contacted on Tel: 07989 470899 or by e-mail at aaa@cambriantraining.com. For more information about AAA visit www.greatbritishkitchen.co.uk/aaa

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Famous Five Celebrate New Chef Award

Posted: 26th March 2009

Four cooks employed by Ceredigion County Council and a hotel chef are celebrating after achieving a new award, which is designed to benchmark skills in the catering and hospitality industry in Wales.

Triple A logo

AAA (Applied Ability Awards)

The five candidates received the Applied Ability Award Foundation Chef certificate after passing a professional cookery examination at Coleg Llandrillo Cymru. Only one Welsh chef had previously achieved the new award in Wales.

The examination was split into three parts: a three-and-a-half hour practical cookery test, an on-line knowledge test and a 20-minute interview.

The AAA programme aims to drive up standards in the hospitality and catering industry in Wales by improving the skills of existing and aspiring chefs and cooks.

The programme in Wales is fully funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and delivered by award-winning training provider Cambrian Training Company in partnership with Tourism Training for Wales.

The successful cooks employed by Ceredigion County Council are Aerona Davies, cook in charge at Aberystwyth Day Care Centre, Karen Freeman, cook at Llanilar Primary School, Susan Owens, cook at Ysgol y Dderi, Llangyby, near Lampeter and Mike Horwood, cook at Min-y-Mor residential home for the elderly in Aberaeron.

The chef who is celebrating is Gerwyn Williams of Hotel Maes-y-Neuadd, Talsarnau, near Harlech.

Scott Anthony, British Food Trust’s development director, said he hoped the successful candidates would now progress to the AAA at Chef level. Four candidates from Wales who failed the examination were being encouraged by the examiners to apply again for September, he added.

Ruth Morris, AAA co-ordinator in Wales, congratulated all the candidates. “All nine candidates have worked exceedingly hard,” she said. “The four that didn’t pass did not disgrace themselves and I look forward to them taking the examination again.”

Delighted to achieve the Foundation Chef award, Aeron Davies, 45, is keen to progress to the next level. “The examination was a very good experience, as it was the first time that I had ever cooked under pressure with two chefs marking me,” she said.

“I was nervous at the beginning, but I enjoyed it and I would advise other cooks and chefs to take the examination because I learned a lot of new skills.”

At Aberystwyth Day Care Centre, Aeron has two catering assistants working with her and they cater for around 120 people at lunchtime every day. From April 20, the catering team will be producing a further 70 meals for a nursery.

The AAA programme aims to guide up to 180 chefs and cooks to achieve Applied Ability Awards at either Foundation or Chef level over the next two years through on-the-job training and mentorship followed by a practical exam.

Mentoring is provided by experienced chefs and cooks and learners have access to an online bilingual virtual chef channel to support the learning aims for developing practical skills.

Ruth Morris can be contacted on Tel: 07989 470899 or by e-mail at aaa@cambriantraining.com. For more information about AAA visit www.greatbritishkitchen.co.uk/aaa

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Top Welsh Chefs Masterclass Roadshow

Posted: 20th March 2009

Arwyn Watkins and Nick Davies from Cambrian Training Company, based in Welshpool, have been taking their masterclass roadshow to six colleges with the aim of passing on their skills and knowledge to lecturers and trainers to enable them to support their learners in future competitions.

Date Start Venue
9 March 2009 10.30am Barry College
9 March 2009 2.30pm Coleg Ystrad Mynach
16 March 2009 2.00pm Coleg Llandrillo
17 March 2009 2.00pm Pembrokeshire College
20 March 2009 2.15pm Coleg Meirion Dwyfor
25 March 2009 10.00am Deeside College

Programme Details

Skills Focused

Three of the proteins that were compulsory in the North European
Heat of Global Chef.

Thry travelled with our own resources to undertake the task.

Duration of each Programme 1.5 hours maximum

World Skills Logos

Sponsored by World Skills UK Wales, Skills Competition Wales
and Cambrian Training Company.

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A BBC Entertainment Production
For BBC Three

Posted: 26th February 2009

BBC Three

BBC Three on the look out for talent

BBC Young Chef of the Year is a nationwide search to find most talented 16-25 year old from each trade – someone at the top of their game, a true ambassador and a role model to their peers.

We’re looking for young chefs to take part in this new exciting show.

Can you help? Please read on….

Programme Details

From now until the middle of April – although our application deadline is March 15th, we'll be inviting applicants to attend a series of interviews and practical challenges around the UK where we will select 6 to go through to our studio final. Each trade will have its own 60 minute show.

The studio final will be filmed over one day and involve 5 challenges. After each round, one finalist will be eliminated by our expert judges (from each trade) – 5 become 4, then 3, down to 2, until we have our overall winner.

The series will have a 'big show' feel, be entertaining but skewed towards learning and celebrating unsung heroes from a modern British workforce.

Talent Casting

This will involve completing an application form which you can download from below or please email youngtalent@bbc.co.uk, call 03700 101 616*, or write to Young Talent Casting Team, Room 3136, BBC Television Centre, London W12 7RJ.

The deadline for completed applications is the 15th March and successful applicants will be invited to an interview followed by an audition. If they are one of the lucky few to go through to the next stage they will then be required for roughly 4 days in total.

They will be tested by the industry’s leading experts to ensure they have the skills and personality needed to earn the title. Ultimately we want to praise the young, hard working individuals that don’t get the recognition they deserve.

document iconYoung Talent of The Year Application Form

document iconTerms and Conditions

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New Welsh Chefs Event
Declared A Success

Posted: 24th November 2008

The first Welsh Chefs Conference has been declared a success after attracting chefs, exhibitors and students from across Wales to Glamorgan Cricket's SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff on November 19 and 20.

The conference and associated exhibition, organised by the Welsh Culinary Association, were sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government to promote the food and drink industry brand 'True Taste', Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales, the Applied Ability Awards, Skills Competition Wales and Tourism Training for Wales.

Competition

Neil Roberts in action

The first day of the event was set aside for competitions, with the showpiece Young Welsh Chef of the Year contest being won by Joseph Jones, 22-year-old chef de partie at The Great House Hotel, Bridgend.

Jones, making his competition debut, held off a strong challenge from fellow gold medallist Tom Middleton from Hotel Maes y Neuadd, Talsarnau, Harlech and the other four finalists. Johnathon Goodman from Ruthin Castle, Ruthin and David Szanto from The Chandlery Restaurant, Newport each won silver medals and Phil Clarke from the Armless Dragon Restaurant, Cardiff and Andrew Sheridan from The Groes Inn Hotel, Conwy each collected bronze medals.

The medals were presented by Deputy Minister for Skills John Griffiths who praised the Welsh Culinary Association for contributing to the Welsh Assembly Government's drive to improve the country's skills and economic strength.

John Griffiths

John Griffiths -
Deputy Minister for Skills

"These young chefs are going to be the star chefs of the future and it's a real pleasure for me to be involved in recognising and rewarding such talent," he said.

He urged employers to continue investing in training despite the economic downturn and pledged Assembly Government support. "History has shown that countries that continue to upskill are the ones that prosper when the economic upturn comes," he added.

He welcomed the introduction of new Applied Ability Awards (Triple A) to train chefs in Wales and said the Skills Competition Wales was an integral part of the Assembly's 'Skills that Work for Wales' strategy.

The conference promoted the new Triple A training programme in Wales that aims to improve standards in the nation's hospitality industry and provide national benchmarks that define and develop craft skills. The awards are designed to raise the skills of learner chefs through on-the-job training and mentorship followed by a practical exam.

Scott Anthony, British Food Trust director, encouraged employers to use the programme to grow their own chefs to fight the recession.

Main focus of the second day of the conference was a series of demonstrations. 'Garden to Plate' was the topic chosen by executive chef Michael Bates and head gardener David Butt from Hurst House, Laugharne, before Gareth Johns, chef proprietor of the Wynnstay Hotel, Machynlleth, focused on slow food and what that meant in practice.

The Conference Speakers

The speakers and demonstrators at the conference

Chef Nick Davies from Cambrian Training Company, Welshpool and Gareth Evans, general manager of Celtic Pride Beef, gave a demonstration on modern forequarter beef butchery cuts before Colin Gray, of Capital Cuisine, Cardiff and Bates took part in a Ready Steady Cook contest with two members of the audience.

In the Skills Competition Wales, the Waggon and Horses restaurant and pub in Newtown completed a notable double, as chef proprietor Neil Roberts won the advanced contest with a gold medal and his junior chef, Matthew Smith, won the intermediate title with a silver medal.

Other competition winners were: Static classes: open restaurant plates - dessert, Michael Coggan, Ystrad Mynach College, silver; open restaurant plates - main course, Andrew Clash, Ystrad Mynach College, bronze. Junior Skills Welsh Lamb, Charlotte Thomas, Ystrad Mynach College, gold.

"The conference has given us a good foundation on which to build for the future and we are committed to repeating the event next year," said Arwyn Watkins, one of the organisers from the Welsh Culinary Association.

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Debutant Joseph Crowned
Young Welsh Chef of the Year

Posted: 24th November 2008

Joseph Jones

Joseph Jones with the winning dishes

A 22-year-old Bridgend chef marked his competition debut by cooking his way to the coveted Young Welsh Chef of the Year title and in the process secured a dream trip to compete in Chile.

Joseph Jones, chef de partie at The Great House Hotel, Bridgend, clinched the double reward by beating five other talented young chefs from across Wales at the inaugural Welsh Chefs Conference in Cardiff.

Jones impressed the panel of judges with his creative three course menu that started with an assiette of lobster with lobster, apple and sage tortellini, lobster and Per Las soufflé and classic lobster bisque. His main course was smoked cannon of Elwy Valley Welsh Lamb, fondant potato, shepherd’s pie, carrot puree and a rich lamb jus.

To round it all off his dessert was hot chocolate and toffee fondant, beetroot sorbet and pistachio tuille.

"It’s an incredible feeling knowing that that I have won the competition," he said."This is a great reward for six-and-a-half years’ work and I am looking forward to competing more in the future."

He said he had chosen the menu because of the quality Welsh ingredients and nice flavours and was satisfied with the finished dishes. "I was very happy with the taste of the dishes and everything went according to plan," he added.

"We knew how good the Elwy Welsh Lamb was and we gave it even more flavour by smoking it ourselves," he explained. "With the dessert, I wanted to finish off with an outstanding chocolate dessert."

Joseph Jones

Joseph Jones adding
the finishing touches

They each had to cook their own creative menu of a three course dinner for four, using Welsh Lamb, Welsh Beef or pork and a selection of True Taste award winning products.

Jones, who received his award from Deputy Skills Minister John Griffiths at a presentation dinner last night (Wednesday), will represent Wales at the World Skills competition to be held at the World Association of Chefs’ Societies’ Conference in Chile in January, 2010.

Chairman of judges, Graham Tinsley, manager of the Welsh National Culinary Team, said Jones was a deserved winner because of the consistency of his three dishes.

Competition Judges

The judges go to work

"The judges had good comments about each of the chefs and it was a well fought battle, but they were unanimous in making Joseph the winner," he added. "It’s pleasing to see that there are some promising junior chefs coming through in Wales."

The competition and conference, organised by the Welsh Culinary Association, are sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government to promote the food and drink industry brand 'True Taste’, Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales, the Applied Ability Awards, Skills Competition Wales and Tourism Training for Wales.

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Chefs Cook Up A Tasty New Event

Posted: 9th October 2008

The first Welsh Chefs Conference will bring together some of the top names on the Welsh culinary scene at Glamorgan Cricket's SWALEC Stadium on 19th and 20th November.

SWALEC Stadium, Sophia Gardens

The SWALEC Stadium, Sophia Gardens

The conference and associated exhibition have been organised by the Welsh Culinary Association in conjunction with the Applied Ability Awards (Triple AAA) programme and the Tourism Training for Wales.

"The conference is designed to showcase the culinary skills and talent that Wales has to offer," said Arwyn Watkins, one of the organisers from the Welsh Culinary Association. "It's a great opportunity for people both within and outside the industry to keep up with what's happening in the chef world.

The conference will also promote the new Triple A training programme in Wales that aims to improve standards in the nation's hospitality industry and provide national benchmarks that define and develop craft skills. The awards are designed to raise the skills of learner chefs through on-the-job training and mentorship followed by a practical exam.

Conference sponsors include the Welsh Assembly Government to promote the food and drink industry brand 'True Taste', Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales, Applied Ability Awards, World Skills Wales and Welsh Culinary Association.

First day of the conference will feature the prestigious Young Welsh Chef of the Year together with a range of other contests, including the Skills Competition Wales. The day ends with a presentation dinner.

Deputy Minister for Skills John Griffiths will open the second day by addressing delegates on the importance of achieving world class skills for sustainable business.

Demonstrations will include 'Garden to Plate' by executive chef Michael Bates and head gardener David Butt from Hurst House, Laugharne, Carmarthen Bay before Gareth Johns, chef proprietor of the Wynnstay Hotel, Machynlleth, focuses on slow food and what this means in practice.

Chef Nick Davies from Cambrian Training Company and Gareth Evans, general manager of Celtic Pride Beef, will give a demonstration on modern forequarter beef butchery cuts before Justin Abbott, development chef at Barons Patisserie, Cardiff gives a demonstration entitled 'Just desserts'.

The conference ends with a challenging question and answer session. Admission to the first day of the conference is free and the fee for the second day is £47.50, including lunch. A range of other packages are available for exhibitors, sponsors and those wishing to attend the awards dinner.

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