- NEWS & CHAT
Once again, The Association of Catering Excellence held its annual Ready Steady Cook Challenge at Imperial College, London on Thursday 24th September
12 teams from the foodservice sector created dishes in just 30 minutes in front of a live audience of 200, using ingredients they had only discovered 30 minutes before. The main ingredients were guinea fowl, black pudding and lamb cannon with a selection of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits and storecupboard ingredients supplied by British Premium Meats, 4degC and kff.
First time judge, Christopher Basten, Chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs has judged many cooking competitions and noted:
“These guys have very limited equipment - doing everything on 2 induction hobs is a real challenge, so it’s all about taste and flavours.”
The winners were Steven Lickley and Paul Matthews from Vacherin, who have worked together for 7 months. To prepare for the event, they did 2 run throughs on their own site, making conditions as difficult as possible for themselves.
“The first one was a disaster – it was really stressful and we gave up halfway through. Trying to work so closely on one hob under time pressure threw us off. Then we had another go and it was much better, so we came prepared for the stress.”
Their winning menu was pan roasted lamb cannon, brown butter sweet potato, sweet & sour leeks, charred spring onion and feta crumb with a dessert of red wine poached plums, bitter chocolate, blackberry and lemon curd and spiced yoghurt.
Restaurant Associates were in second place, with Brookwood in third. The 3 teams received their prizes from the sponsors, CookTek, Russums, McFarlane Telfer and Peros.
The other teams were ABsolutely Catering, Artizian, BaxterStorey, Bartlett Mitchell, Ch&Co, Gather & Gather, Holroyd Howe, ISS Food & Hospitality, and Sodexo.
Judge Geoff Booth, Westminster Kingsway College pointed out:
“The chefs are treated horribly – they have no time, very limited facilities, and a lot of distractions with a compere interrupting them and an audience quiz going on in the background. We’re in awe of the talent at this event.”
Judge Sara Jayne Stanes OBE, Academy of Culinary Arts added:
“The teamwork, the adrenaline, the inspiration and creativity is palpable in the room. I love doing this, watching them all pumped up. Well done for rising to the occasion.”
First prize is a meal for the chefs and their partners at The Fat Duck, sponsored by McFarlane Telfer. Sales & Marketing Director, Mark Brooker explains why they support Ready Steady Cook:
“We sponsor this event because of our relationship with contract caterers. 60% of our business comes through third parties such as contract caterers and facilities management companies, and many of the competitors are our customers. It’s great to see them in action like this, and I only wish that we could taste the food they create. It all looks so good!”
The raffle on the evening was in aid of Beyond Food Foundation, ACE’s chosen charity for 2015. It was set up to inspire homeless people, motivate them and train them to become chefs through its apprenticeship programme at Brigade Bar and Bistro in Tooley Street. CEO, Greg Harris was there to present the prize of tickets to the supper club event at the restaurant. He appealed to the audience for help with work placements for the apprentices. The chopping boards and pans, provided by Nisbets, will be donated to the charity.