Three Chesterfield College students are in the running for the prestigious 2018 Young Chef of the Year Award, following a Master Chef style competition judged by professional chefs, including Michelin-starred chef Rupert Rowley from Fischers Baslow Hall.
The students, Kye Homiak (18) from South Normanton, Ashley Pienaar (18) from Doe Lea and Callum Taylor (18) from Cresswell, each prepared a two course meal for a panel of judges. Chefs from Fischers Baslow Hall, Ringwood Hall Hotel and Peak Edge Hotel tasted each of the dishes and scored the students.
Organised by Destination Chesterfield, the award, which is sponsored by Owen Taylor & Sons, recognises Chesterfield College’s most promising Level 2 Cookery students.
Ashley’s seasonal menu included roast duck, cauliflower and blackberry, celeriac and potato rosti with onions, broccoli and gravy followed by a summer berry tart.
Commenting on the competition, Ashley said: “I used Instagram for inspiration for my dishes and I practiced, practiced, practiced to make sure it was right for the competition as it was my first time cooking competitively. I really want to beat the boys in the competition.
“My family are from South Africa and all love to cook, especially barbecues. My passion is making desserts though, particularly brownies, and one day I want to be a patisserie chef and have my own restaurant.”
Callum took a risk with his dishes, choosing to cook something he never had before. His menu included seared salmon, with roast leek, butter poached king prawns, broccoli and pea puree and almonds, followed by strawberry and elderflower fraisier.
Despite having a mini disaster with his pea and broccoli puree and having to remake it seconds before serving to judges, Callum loved the competition. He said: “Although I messed up, I took it in my stride and it was a fantastic experience. I enjoyed talking to the chefs as I was cooking as it helped take my mind off how intense the competition was.”
Callum plans to advance to his Level 3 Diploma once he completes his Level 2. He then hopes to go into the army to do catering. He added: “My cousin is a chef in the army. He loves it and I have always looked up to him so this is what I eventually want to do.”
Kye prepared pan fried sea bass with pickled fennel salad, quail egg with batter scraps and bacon followed by Yorkshire rhubarb and custard panna cotta for the judges. He explained: “I wanted to do something that had loads of flavour and I think this hit the right notes with the judges.”
He has his grandma to thank for his love of cooking, having heped her regularly at home cooking family meals. He said: “I felt really nervous, but as soon as I started cooking it was fine. It was a really great experience and I felt like I was on Master Chef.”
Commenting on Kye, Callum and Ashley’s performance, Rupert Rowley said: “The three prepared a reasonable standard of food and they should all be proud of what they have achieved. Regardless of how long you have been a chef, however, you are only as good as your last meal and you have to keep continually moving forward.”
Ian Matthews, Hospitality and Catering Lecturer at Chesterfield College, commented: “Competing in the Young Chef of the Year competition gives our students a fantastic experience and helps to develop their skills. Cooking in competition conditions is very different to what they have experienced before but it really highlights their abilities to develop menus and cook under pressure. When industry experts judge their food and give them positive feedback it really motivates the students and helps them to realise what they are capable of.”
Judge and award sponsor John Lupton, Sales and Commerical Manager from Owen Taylor & Sons, added: “The students all had a very good standard of hygiene and I was impressed with how cool they all appeared to be under pressure.”
The students will have to wait until Wednesday 31 October to learn who is the winner of the prestigious award. It will be announced at a glittering award ceremony which is being held at Chesterfield College’s Heart Space Building.
A former winner of the prestigious Chesterfield Young Chef of the Year title includes James Greatorex, who is now a Chef de Partie at Heston Blumenthal’s world-famous three Michelin-starred restaurant, The Fat Duck.
In addition to Owen Taylor & Sons, other supporters of the awards include Banner Jones Solicitors, BHP Chartered Accountants, Casa Hotel, Chesterfield Borough Council, Derbyshire Times, Elder Way (Jomast), East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire), Hoods Florist, Jumble Creative Design, Kier Group, MSE Hiller, Peak FM,Reflections and Shorts Chartered Accountants.