The 21st Skills for Chefs Conference in Sheffield will takes place in Sheffield on the 4th & 5th July and a stellar line up is assembled for this annual event.
David McKown, Director of Skills for Chefs commented “We are excited that the conference will open on Wednesday 4th July with ‘An Evening with Raymond Blanc OBE’, an on-stage interview with one of the world’s most respected chefs.”
As Chef Patron of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, the renowned two Michelin Star restaurant and hotel in Oxfordshire, Raymond has championed and nurtured some of the country’s most respected chefs in his kitchens
Raymond has always felt compelled to share his culinary knowledge and commented: “I have always been passionate about growing the next generation of chefs and embracing a kitchen culture of inclusiveness and education. Having never had a true mentor myself, and all the challenges that went along with that, I feel even stronger that nurturing talent is essential for a thriving industry. I look forward to discussing this philosophy with the chefs attending the conference in Sheffield”.
This early evening business session will be immediately followed by a special dinner created by a trio of celebrated Sheffield Chefs, Joe Berry from Inox Dine at The University of Sheffield, Luke French from Jöro and Tom Lawson from Rafters Restaurant. David added, “We have designed a meal that will showcase the best of regional produce and the talents of these award winning chefs”.
The conference will continue on Thursday 5th July at Sheffield College in a format that sees delegates moving around four kitchens to witness culinary presentations from outstanding chefs.
Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Executive Head Chef from the Michelin Starred Northcote will present on fine dining. Lisa will stress the importance of seasonal cooking, innovation and maintaining standards.
Lisa took over the reins of the kitchen in October 2017 having worked at Northcote since 2001. After joining Northcote aged 20, she became chef de partie after a year, junior sous chef the following year then at at the age of 23 was named executive chef, one of the youngest chefs to take on the role in a Michelin starred kitchen at the time. Since then she has helped to maintain the restaurant’s Michelin Star which it has held for over 20 years in total.
The conference also welcomes Robert Ortiz from LIMA in London. Born in Peru, Robert Ortiz has brought exciting flavours and gastronomic developments of his native land to a European audience as head chef at LIMA. The restaurant represents Peru’s recent gastronomic expansion and showcases it with authentic, seasonal and fresh produce, encompassing Peruvian flavours and ingredients in a clean and contemporary style. His culinary career started in Lima before leading him through some of London’s top kitchens.
After several years in the UK, he moved back to Peru to reacquaint himself with Peruvian cooking before returning to London to open LIMA London in 2012. Since then the restaurant has won many accolades and in 2013, LIMA became Europe’s first Peruvian restaurant to achieve one Michelin star status.
The international theme continues with two leading chefs from Hakkasan, the award-winning global restaurant brand, who will fly into the UK, to demonstrate Hakkasan’s modern take on authentic Cantonese Cuisine.
Chef Andy Toh Chye Siong, Executive Chef Middle East who is based at Hakkasan Dubai and Chef Lai Min Wei, Chef de Cuisine at Hakkasan Doha, will offer delegates a display of several of Hakkasan’s most popular dishes including Crispy Duck Salad in which Koppert Cress’s produce are a key ingredient. The demonstration will also showcase Hakkasan’s renowned flavour combinations, dish-finishing techniques and creative plating methods.
The highlights of the conference will continue with Masterclasses using Casa LUker Chocolate presented by Gary Mclean, Senior Lecturer at Glasgow City College and Winner of MasterChef The Professionals. Gary Maclean, was also appointed as the first National Chef of Scotland by the Scottish Government last year, a role that sees Gary travelling the globe to promote Scotland. David McKown, commented “I am sure Scottish Raspberries and Scotch Whisky will feature somewhere in the desserts”.
A series of Masterclasses on Plant Based Cuisine will also be a hugely popular feature of the Skills for Chefs Conference. These sessions will be presented by Chantelle Nicholson, Group Operations Director for Marcus Wareing Restaurants and Chef Patron of Tredwells. Originally from New Zealand, Chantelle trained as a lawyer before discovering a passion for food. In 2006, Chantelle joined Marcus at Pétrus, originally as sous chef and later in other key roles and since 2014, has been the Group Operations Director, helping to launch Gilbert Scott and Tredwells.
Chantelle will showcase dishes from her new book “Planted: A Chef’s Show-stopping book of Vegan Recipes”. Chantelle commented “The whole reason I did a plant-based recipe book was that I liked the challenge, It’s something some chefs just ignore and don’t think is important. When I looked around to find resources for plant-based cooking at a restaurant level, there were hardly any !”.
The business programme will close with an interview with John Williams MBE, Executive Chef, The Ritz, and London.
Born and raised in South Shields, the son of a fisherman, John started his rise to Michelin star studying catering at South Shields College and then Westminster College, London.
His first job in London aged 16 was at the Royal Garden Hotel. By 27, he was Premier Sous Chef with Mario Lesnik at Claridge’s, before moving on to the Berkeley and then to the Ritz where he is Executive Chef.
At the Ritz, John has built on the principles and beliefs of Auguste Escoffier, being inspired by classic dishes with a modern touch for today’s market.
He is hugely respected by his peers. At the launch of the 2017 edition of the Michelin Guide, John received a standing ovation when it was announced that the Ritz had been awarded a Michelin star. “John has received many awards and accolades. He was the first British chef to be awarded a CMA for services to French cuisine by the French Government. In 2008 he was awarded an MBE for services to hospitality and is a Master of Culinary Arts. His story, is one of talent, determination, motivation and an obvious love of the industry.
The conference will close with a Gala Awards Dinner on Thursday 5 July and the evening will take place in Firth Hall at The University of Sheffield. The theme is Latin America, since the prizes for UK Young Restaurant Team of the Year will be announced at the Dinner. The overall winners of UK Young Restaurant Team of the Year will embark on a study tour to Colombia, courtesy of MSK Ingredients and Casa Luker Chocolate.