The chefs from Culinary Team Wales completed their Culinary World Cup campaign in Luxembourg last Tuesday by securing a silver medal in the hot kitchen, adding very nicely to the bronze they won for culinary art on Sunday.
Having competed against the world’s best culinary teams, the Welsh chefs were praised by Culinary Association of Wales president Arwyn Watkins, OBE, who said they had made many friends at the event.
“This is a team in development and to come to the Culinary World Cup and win silver and bronze medals is a phenomenal achievement and shows how much progress they have made,” he said.
“They were up against national teams that have been together for up to eight years. No gold medals were awarded in the hot kitchen yesterday, which tells you everything about the high standard of the competition.
“England and Scotland also won silver medals in the hot kitchen but as the home nations improve our standards, the Scandinavian countries and Singapore raise the benchmark again.
“We have had excellent feedback from other nations about the Welsh team’s efficiency and working practices in the kitchen.”
Team captain Danny Burke, co-owner of Olive Tree Catering, Runcorn, said he would have loved to have won a gold medal but was satisfied with silver in the hot kitchen and the chefs had gained valuable competition experience.
“A silver medal is a massive achievement for this inexperienced team and it’s a step in the right direction,” he added. “We have been working together for 18 months and it’s been a nice, relaxed team to be around.
“The feedback from the judges was that our dishes, whilst being flavoursome, lacked a bit skill but our working practices and hygiene were spot on, which gives us a platform to build on.
“We really enjoyed being in the hot kitchen yesterday and other team managers commented about how well we worked together. Everyone did what they needed to do, and they deserve their silver medal.”
He revealed that it was his last competition with the senior team, as he plans to step down to assist Wales’ junior team coach Michael Evans as a mentor. His mission is to encourage progression from the junior to senior team.
The other team members are Toby Beevers, who works for PSL Purchasing Systems and lives near Chester, Jason Hughes, who is opening his own restaurant in Menai Bridge in partnership with Bocca in the new year, Alun Davies, former captain of the Combined Services and RAF culinary teams who is based in Winchester, Sergio Cinotti, co-owner of Gemelli and Gem42 restaurants in Newport and Alys Evans, an award-winning patisserie chef from Gilfach Goch.
In the hot kitchen, they were given six hours to prepare, cook and serve a three-course meal for 110 diners. Their menu comprised a starter of scallops, ceviche, compressed cucumber, Café de Paris, chicken skin granola seawater and sea herbs. Main course is hay-smoked loin of Welsh Lamb, lamb tagine, almond puree, pearl couscous and apricots. Dessert is white chocolate and lemon mousse with Welsh honey, raspberries, raspberry sorbet and mint.
Supporting the team were chefs Mark Robertson from Coleg Cambria, Deeside, Matthew Smith from Lake Vyrnwy Hotel, Llanwddyn, drivers Gareth Dwyer and Chris Simga and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai students Oliver Parry-Molloy, Morgan Read and Dalton Weir.
Also representing Wales at the Culinary World Cup was Colin Gray, of Capital Cuisine, Caerphilly, who is one of the international judges.
Mr Watkins revealed that a ‘Team Wales’ approach to the event, which saw a Welsh Government display promoting Welsh food and drink in partnership with the Culinary Association of Wales, had paid dividends.
“We have had some very good interest in Welsh food and drink products,” he added. “Attending these events does a lot for the brand and makes Wales very visible to the world.”
Culinary Team Wales is sponsored by the Welsh Government’s Food and Drink Wales, Cambrian Training Company, Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Castell Howell Foods, Hybu Cig Cymru, Harlech Foods and Goodfellows.