Next month’s (February 2015 ) Junior Chef of Wales final will be battle between the north and south. Andrew Tabberner, 22, chef de partie at Coast Restaurant, Saundersfoot, clinched his place at the showpiece cook-off by winning the South Wales heat on 14th January at Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw.
Joining him in the final from South Wales will be Vivienne Read from Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, who was one of two highest scoring runners up from the two heats. North Wales will be represented by heat winner Sam Ricketts, 20, chef de partie at Signatures Restaurant, Conwy and Arron Tye from Shared Olive, Hawarden, highest scoring runner up.
They will compete in the final cook-off at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos-on-Sea on February 16, on the eve of the Welsh International Culinary Championships, with an exciting prize at stake.
Apart from claiming the coveted title of Junior Chef of Wales and the dragon trophy, the winner will also secure an all-expenses paid trip to represent Wales at the Junior Forum held at the World Association of Chefs’ Societies Congress in Athens, Greece in May 2016.
Organised every two years by the Culinary Association of Wales, the Junior Chef of Wales contest is sponsored by the Welsh Government to promote the Food and Drink Wales brand.
In the heats, the chefs were given three hours to cook their own creative menu for a three course dinner for four persons, using a selection of Welsh products.
Andrew’s winning menu, which earned him a score of 89 points out of 100, was: starter: Mackerel three ways with cucumber and horseradish. Main course: cawl with Welsh Lamb fillet and sweetbread, garlic pomme puree, charred leek and confit garlic. Dessert: cinnamon pannacotta, gingerbread, star anise jelly, black pepper and vanilla caramel and mulled wine syrup.
“Over the moon” to win the heat, he thanked his head chef Will Holland and his family for their support and said he hoped to repeat the performance in the final.
“The dishes I cooked in the competition are the sort of food that I love to eat,” he explained. “I have cooked them before but I gave them a twist. In practice, I plated up everything and my head chef gave me advice and feedback.
“It would be a massive achievement if I could win the competition.”
Originally from Birmingham, Andrew fell in love with cooking at school and hopes to become a senior sous chef within the next five years.
Culinary Association of Wales president Colin Gray praised the winner’s “very modern style with clean flavours” and said he had exhibited good skills.
“It was a very close competition with just six points separating the top three places and the overall standard was very good for junior chefs,” he added. “Judging by the scores from both heats, I think it’s going to be a tight final and we should be in for a very great competition.”
The other South Wales heat contestants were: Benjamin Cooke from Brains, Cardiff and Ian McCormack from Coleg y Cymoedd.