TV chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli, crowned Amy Hawthorne and Michael Balding from South Essex College as the UK Young Seafood Chefs of the Year 2014 at the Grimsby Institute today.
The competition, which is now in its 18th year, was founded in 1997 by the Grimsby Institute’s Hospitality Department who recognised that on the national competition circuit, there were no existing seafood competitions aimed at colleges to showcase the skills of their students.
Local and national companies, such as Young’s and Seafish, initially stepped in to support the competition and since then, it has gone from strength-to-strength, each year increasing in entries and gaining more and more support from industry.
For the competition the teams were tasked with using the following species to create their menu:
- Starter – Salmon fillets and/or Coley fillets
- Intermediate Course – Whole Plaice and or Whole Herring
- Main Course – Whole Turbot and/or Whole Seabass
The winning team comprised of two learners from South Essex College; Amy Hawthorne and Michael Balding. Amy said: “It was a shock to win, we were really nervous. This is going to open up a lot of opportunities for us in our future lives. Fish is good to cook with and it can be really hard to fillet it properly.”
Twenty-year-old Michael added: “Competitions like this give you great experience, new ideas and the chance to work with new people.”
Jean-Christophe Novelli said: “We are talking about one of the most important competitions for young people in the UK. There has definitely been a big change in the way people see chefs in this country over the past twenty years. Cooking is very special and people look up to chefs.
Going to college is very important, whether you’re 13 or 60. What students learn at college is the backbone of their education. The winners have done a fantastic job and they should be very, very proud of themselves today.
Paul Robinson, Hospitality Curriculum Leader and organiser of the competition, added: “To have Jean-Christophe Novelli come to the Grimsby Institute and be part of our long running competition was simply awesome. It gave the competition a real edge. All of the judges here today have such a passion for the trade and it is phenomenal and they are such an inspiration to the young chefs who competed today.”