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Lexington Catering chef wins Craft Guild of Chefs pub menu challenge

Emily Orton from Lexington Catering was awarded champion of Tabasco Pub Menu Challenge in partnership with the Craft Guild of Chefs at Hotelympia. The competition, now in its sixth year, took place in the Live Theatre as part of the International Salon Culinaire, ExCel, London.

During the second half of the day, the competition heated up, with the winner taking home an all-expenses paid trip to Avery Island, Louisiana where Tabasco Sauce is made as well as securing their winning dish on Stonegate pubs and restaurant menus across the UK.

In preparation for the challenge, competitors were tasked with creating a recipe for a starter and main course to fit a mainstream pub menu. Recipes for a gastro pub were optional if ingredients were not costly. Proteins, including chicken, beef, lamb or pork could be used in the main course, but vegetarian dishes were also accepted. A detailed cost for the dishes with a cost per portion and recommended selling price was required upon submission from all submissions.

The competitors had to ensure their dishes fitted with current menu trends, requiring menu and out of home trends research prior to the event. Competitors were given one hour to prepare two portions of each dish in front of the live Hotelympia audience.

The winning menu comprised of a Smoked habanero Tabasco pulled pork sausage roll, Tabasco apple and sultana chutney, and Tabasco salt crackling as a starter, and for the main course, a Chipotle Tabasco chicken and pancetta pie (pictured left), with sides consisting of Smoked Tabasco mac n cheese roscoff onion rings, heritage carrots maple and Tabasco glaze and Jalapeno Tabasco lime and chilli peas.

The panel of judges included key figures in the hospitality industry. Led by executive chef of Royal Gardens Hotel and Craft Guild of Chefs member, Steve Munkley, alongside Tabasco brand corporate chef Gary Evans, development director Creative Foods Europe Lee Tynan, and Stonegate Pub Company’s director of food, Kevin Steppe. Each judge looked for creatively, flavour and the ease of service in a pub environment.

Andrew Green, Director of Operations, Craft Guild of Chefs, praised the competitors, “Congratulations to Emily Orton from Lexington Catering for winning best-in-class. All competitors worked extremely hard. This competition is a great opportunity for young chefs to be recognised for their talent and skills.”

The competition delivered many unique dishes including starters such as seafood and Tabasco sauce cocktail with avocado mousse and tempura prawns with a Bloody Mary and Tabasco sauce mayonnaise. Main course dishes included braised ox cheek, fermented cabbage, Jerusalem artichoke mousse with Tabasco Chipotle sauce, Tabasco sauce and ox caramel and hunters pie with Tabasco chipotle sauce confit chicken.