Three ex-Coleg Llandrillo Hospitality and Catering students narrowly missed out on claiming the title of best junior chef in Wales at the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC), which were held this week at the Coleg Llandrillo's Rhos-on-Sea campus for the thirteenth year in succession.
A new generation of talented Welsh chefs took centre stage when they competed for the coveted Junior Chef of Wales title, which was the curtain-raiser for this year's culinary championships.
The eventual winner was announced as Arron Tye, 22, from Carden Park Hotel, Chester who beat off stiff competition from the best young chefs in Wales to lift the trophy and be crowned Junior Chef of Wales.
The three ex-Coleg Llandrillo students, Harry Paynter-Roberts, 20, from Conwy, who works at the Manchester House Restaurant, Manchester; Oliver Thompson, 19, from Kinmel Bay, who works at The Bull, Beaumaris, and Luke Jordan, 20, who works at Slaughters Manor House, Cheltenham. The other finalist was Thomas Martin, 21, from the Holm House Hotel, Penarth.
Coleg Llandrillo Hospitality and Catering tutor, Craig Hindley, said:
Congratulations to Harry, Oliver and Luke for making the national final of such a prestigious competition. To have three ex-Coleg Llandrillo students in a final of five is an extraordinary feat!
The five finalists spent three hours in the kitchen during the contest final on the first day of the Welsh International Culinary Championships. The chefs, who are all under the age of 23 years, cooked a three-course meal for four people - using Welsh ingredients wherever possible - under the supervision of an experienced panel of judges.
The judging panel included Culinary Association of Wales vice president Colin Gray; Worldchefs' continental director for Northern Europe, Dragan Unic; Junior Culinary Team Wales manager Michael Evans, Culinary Team Wales captain Danny Burke, and Nick Davies.
This is the second year in succession that Harry Paynter-Roberts has qualified for the final of the junior competition, and it was a busy week for both Harry and Aarron Tye, as they were both members of the Junior Team Wales who narrowly lost out to England's junior team in the Battle for the Dragon contest.
Arron Tye will automatically qualify for the Craft Guild of Chefs' Young National Chef of the Year contest semi-final. He will also receive a study tour with Koppert Cress and receive a set of engraved knives from Friedr Dick.
Arron's menu opened with a starter of pan-fried Anglesey scallops and seabass fillet with tortellini, charred Welsh baby leeks, pickled onion cups, leek puree and onion broth. Main course was Rhug Estate organic pork fillet wrapped pancetta served with sage and onion sausage glazed young carrot, pot roasted savoy cabbage and orange and carrot puree. Dessert was Blodyn Aur rapeseed sponge with Gwynt y Ddraig cider apples, honeycomb tuile, loganberry cremeux and blackberry ice cream.
Everything went according to plan and I'm happy with the dishes
said an exhausted Tye at the end of the competition.
Culinary Association of Wales president Colin Gray commended all five junior chefs and said the judges had a difficult task.
The taste and flavour of the dishes was something that you can be proud of. These chefs are the future of our industry. This is an ideal type of competition to challenge them to better themselves and it also helps us to spot talent for the Culinary Team Wales.
The four-day Welsh International Culinary Championships brought together all the nation's culinary competitions in one venue for the first time. In addition to the National and Junior Chef of Wales finals and the Battle for the Dragon contest, there were the culinary finals of Skills Competition Wales and the Major International Regional Competition.
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai is a recipient of a Queens Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Award, which was presented in 2012 at Buckingham Palace for delivering world-class education in hospitality and catering at every level of study. In the recent Estyn government inspection, the college's hospitality and catering provision was classed as excellent. The college's Hospitality and Catering programme area is the only one in Wales to offer full and part-time courses from Level 1 to Bachelor Honours Degrees in Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts.
For more information on Hospitality and Catering courses at Coleg Llandrillo, or any of the Grŵp Llandrillo Menai campuses, call the college's Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.