At Hotelympia, the team from One Aldwych Hotel, having clinched Silver, best in class, was announced the inaugural winners of the Craft Guild of Chefs National Team of the Year, new to 2018. The team from London pulled out all the stops to bring home the win and be crowned champions.
The winning team included Christophe Majewski, Jenny Davies and Patrick Wade. Davies said, “Amazing and absolutely overwhelmed. We had a few moments during the actual service that kept us on our toes.” Majewski added, “staying calm paid off. Have a back-up plan and see it through until the end.”
Finalists were given 90 minutes to produce four portions of a three-course meal to include a vegan starter, venison main course and dessert designed around a twist on a British Classic. They were able to use any cut or cuts of venison (sponsored and provided by Denham Estate in Bury St Edmunds) but had to be mindful of wastage as marks could be deducted for this.
Prior to competition day, they were given the opportunity to practice with their chosen cut and a further piece was provided for the final. Only pre-peeled vegetables were allowed, as all other knife skills had to be demonstrated, to be judged and marked on. The use of seasonal British ingredients was encouraged.
The winning menu comprised of Salt baked celeriac with truffle yoghurt, roasted hazelnut vinaigrette, apple & wood sorrel as a starter, and Haunch of Highland Venison with smoked beetroot, pain d’epices and butternut squash as a main course. For the dessert, a rhubarb and custard (entirely gluten- and dairy-free) comprising of a poached Yorkshire rhubarb, sable biscuit, vanilla custard, white chocolate and rhubarb ice cream. Each dish was beautifully presented to the panel of judges.
Steve Munkley, Chef Director of Salon Culinaire and a Craft Guild of Chefs Vice President, said, “This is the first one we’ve ever run like this and hopefully it’s going to grow and grow. The nine exciting teams, they came from some of the top end of the market.
'They found it tough, producing what they did in 90 minutes. A few of them didn’t find it as easy as expected but we are really pleased for the winners. They all did a super job. The judges out there that were tasting said some of the main courses were outstanding.”
During the competition the judges looked for exceptional knife skills, great preparation of the stocks and sauces used and balance of the menu content throughout the meal. Excellent leadership and direction from the head chef was marked on and deliverance of dishes had to bear a resemblance to a restaurant environment.