The Academy restaurant at Cheshire College – South & West’s Crewe campus recently played host to the North West’s Young Chef of the Year competition with six finalists battling it out to claim the title.
The impressive judging panel included Essential Cuisine business development chef, Jonathan Harvey-Barnes; ex-Le Gavroche head chef, Steven Doherty; Paul Askew of The Art School in Liverpool and Graham Price, formerly of pub group Brunning & Price.
Highly acclaimed chef Brian Mellor led the panel as chair of the judges. Brian, who is an ambassador for the college, works regularly with the learners to progress their development, techniques, skills and concepts.
23-year-old Cyril Gabriel cooked his way to glory on the day, seeing off tough competition including chefs from Northcote and the Punchbowl at Crosthwaite.
His winning three-course menu consisted of: Wye Valley asparagus served with free range poached egg and hollandaise sauce as the starter; a main course of Welsh mountain lamb saddle served with pickled baby carrots, pea textures, carrot jam, creamy mashed potato and for dessert lamb jus and a lime biscuit dacquoise served with cherry cremeux, stuffed caramelised cherry, praline Chantilly cream, lemon balm and cherry beer ice cream dessert.
Brian commented: “Yet again the technique on show across the board has been excellent, this was one of the hardest competition’s we have ever had to judge, but in the end, Cyril’s consistent quality shone through.
“There was also real passion, pride and endeavour on show – something we’ve come to expect from the competition, but should never take for granted. We will be flying the flag for Cyril, come the national semi-finals.”
A well-attended inaugural dinner and awards ceremony at Cheshire College – South & West was also held to mark the competition.
Brian continued: “Special mention must go to Cheshire College – South & West for hosting the event. It was great to see so many people come out to support the young finalists.
“Thank you also to each and every one of the catering and front-of-house students who helped on the day – a truly inspirational group of young people and the next generation of this fantastic industry.”
The Academy restaurant is a training restaurant based on the ground floor of the College’s Crewe campus, featuring a modern and innovative twist on Manchester’s famous Northern Quarter in its facilities and decor. It was winner of the 2017 AA College Restaurant of the Year.
Shane Guildford, chef and lecturer at Cheshire College – South & West’s Academy restaurant commented: “It’s been a great day and fantastic to see the restaurant hosting such a highly esteemed competition.
“We have been honoured to host the event and see so many admired and successful industry professionals in the kitchen with us today.
“It was also a great opportunity for four of our learners, who were involved in the event, acting as runners and assistants for the day.
“It gave them an insight into the pressures of a professional kitchen and they were all inspired by the food that was on display.
“There’s a lot going on at the restaurant this year with new initiatives and partnerships underway. We’re continually growing and attracting more talented chefs due to our winning status as the best college restaurant in the country.
“It’s already been an exciting start to the year and we’re looking forward to what can further be achieved throughout 2018.”