The coveted title of National Chef of Wales was at stake as eight finalists went head-to-head at the Welsh International Culinary Championships, which was held at Coleg Llandrillo's Rhos-on-Sea campus this week, for the thirteenth year in succession.
The tightly-fought final brought the curtain down on the Welsh International Culinary Championships, with the eventual winner of the nation's top culinary contest announced as Tom Westerland from the Lucknam Park Hotel in Colerne, near Bath, at the presentation dinner in Llandudno, which was attended by Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs.
The other finalists were: Jake Mann, 26, The Bull, Beaumaris; John Quill, 45, JQ Catering Services Ltd, Barry; Dion Jones, 30, Carden Park Hotel, Chester; Matthew Ramsdale, 25, The Chester Grosvenor, Chester; Matthew Smith, 34, Hawkstone Park Hotel, Weston-under-Redcastle, Shrewsbury; Wayne Bernard, 35, Pier 64, Penarth Marina, Cardiff, and Gavin Kellett, 33, The Vine Tree, Llangattock, Crickhowell.
They were given three hours to prepare and cook a three-course menu for four people using Welsh ingredients wherever possible. A panel of experienced judges selected the winner after closely supervising both heats.
Tom Westerland went one better this year, as he has been runner-up for the past two years, while Matthew Smith and Matthew Ramsdale were both finalists in 2017.
As well as the trophy and the sought-after title of National Chef of Wales, Tom won a three-day, all-inclusive culinary tour with Koppert Cress in Holland, which will include a masterclass from a two-star Michelin chef, cooking in a development kitchen for the company's chief executive and an introduction to new cress developments and new Dutch cuisine market trends. In addition, he received £250 worth of Churchill products and an engraved set of knives made by Friedr Dick.
More than 350 chefs from across Wales and England competed at the Welsh International Culinary Championships in North Wales, which saw all the nation's culinary competitions brought together in one venue for the first time.
Held every February, the Welsh International Culinary Championships are a mouthwatering, four-day showcase of world-class chefs from across the UK. Designed to celebrate the nation's fantastic culinary skills and rich array of quality food, the championships are packed with exciting competitions for learner, junior and senior chefs and waiting staff.
In addition to the National Chef of Wales contest, there was the Battle for the Dragon competition between the Wales and England national junior teams (which England won), the final of the Junior Chef of Wales competition, 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.
The Welsh International Culinary Championships are organised by the Culinary Association of Wales and main sponsor is Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government's department representing the food and drink industry.
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.