A seafood competition, which was open to Hospitality and Catering students from all three of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai's colleges, saw one of Coleg Llandrillo's teenage, work-based students net the best seafood dish!
Spearheaded by Seafish, the public body that supports the £10bn UK seafood industry, the annual, inter-college 'Seafood Chef of the Year' competition - and special seafood dinner that followed - celebrated the national Seafood Week campaign by highlighting the best of seasonal Welsh seafood.
The finalists were required to develop two creative seafood dishes - starter and main course - from provided ingredients, which included locally-sourced mussels, plaice and sea bass. The hotly-contested competition was open to students from Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai and Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor.
The overall winner was Coleg Llandrillo's work-based apprentice Jack Airey, 19, from Llanrwst.Jack juggles studies for his NVQ Level 2 Professional Cookery apprenticeship at the college's Rhos-on-Sea campus with his job as a chef at Dylan's Restaurant in Llandudno.
22-year-old Ellis Heald from Holyhead - another Coleg Llandrillo work-based student - who plies his trade at The Deck House Restaurant, Silver Bay, Anglesey, cooked his way to second place, whilst Coleg Llandrillo student Rebecca Claypole, 17, from Mochdre, took third place.
Jack's victorious menu comprised a starter of plaice paupiette, sun blushed tomatoes, buttered leeks, fried oyster and sauce Choron, followed by a main course of pan-seared fillet of sea bass, Pen Llyn crab polenta, Menai mussels, crisp shallots and mariniere sauce.
I really enjoyed having the support of my team at work and the encouragement of my college assessors, who all helped me to prepare for the competition. It was great to work with amazing local seafood and develop new skills.
The competition was judged by Arwel Jones, former-executive head chef at The Imperial, Llandudno, and Seafish seafood ambassador, Dr Denise Baker. The awards were presented at a special Seafood Week dinner held in Coleg Llandrillo's Orme View Restaurant, where the public dined on prominent local seafood species.
Speaking about Jack's success, Denise said:
Jack is extremely talented and showed great flair with his menu. The flavours and textures worked well together and the dishes were both creative and well presented. The 'Seafood Chef of the Year' competition is a fantastic way to recognise the incredible talent of budding chefs in Wales and it's a privilege to be involved in the judging process.
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai has four training restaurants and welcomes bookings from the public. They are staffed by students who are fully-supervised by experienced staff. For more information, visit the website.
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.