The hotly anticipated S.Pellegrino Young Chef UK & Ireland final took place last Monday, seeing 10 Young Chefs from some of the countries’ top restaurants go head to head in pursuit of a place in the final in Milan next year. Spanning 18 months, each Young Chef had already undergone a rigorous taste test by ALMA before being selected for the regional final held at Aveqia.
Come 11am, 10 very nervous Young Chefs got to work filleting fish, de-shelling lobster tails and chopping furiously. Each chef was allocated 5 hours to create a masterpiece that showcased a range of skills, as well as using seasonal ingredients which, with the competition taking place over 18 months, was certainly no mean feat. Staggered at 15-minute intervals, there was nervous anticipation in the air as each Young Chef was given the go-ahead to start their dish.
Bang on 6pm, journalists and industry aficionados flooded into the venue, greeted by the welcome aroma of 10 fine dining dishes being carefully prepared. Compere, William Sitwell wasted no time in introducing the esteemed jury of Angela Hartnett, Phil Howard, Alyn Williams and Mickael Viljanen who each hold a Michelin star.
As guests took their seats at the long banquet table, the first dish was gratefully received by guests and jurors alike. Comprising of turbot, kohlrabi and sea purslane, it certainly set the bar high for the other chefs who, one by one, submitted their dish to scrutiny from the judges. Keen not to miss out on their moment to shine, the microphone was passed around for audience members including the likes of Marianne Lumb and Neil Davey to offer up their views on each dish.
10 dishes and some very full tummies later, the judges retired to a private room for deliberation, returning to crown Killian Crowley of Aniar the winner. Many congratulations, commiserations and glasses of champagne later, the Young Chefs gratefully returned to their restaurants, armed with a new set of skills to improve their signature dish. Killian, who will now go on to represent the UK & Ireland in the global final in Milan next May, will be mentored by head judge, Angela Hartnett in a bid to perfect his signature dish.