An ex-Coleg Llandrillo Hospitality and Catering student narrowly missed out on claiming the coveted title of Junior Chef in Wales at the Welsh International Culinary Championships, which were recently held at Coleg Llandrillo's Rhos-on-Sea campus.
At a presentation evening in Llandudno hours after the curtain came down on this year's championships, a team of renowned judges announced Wrexham-based Sion Hughes, who works at the Carden Park Hotel in Chester, as the winner. Sion narrowly beat ex-Coleg Llandrillo student, 21-year-old Oliver Thompson - originally from Kinmel Bay - who claimed the silver medal.
In a captivating final featuring four of the top chefs in Wales (aged between 17-23), Sion impressed the judges with his scintillating take on a three-course meal for four people that included a vegan starter, a main course including Welsh lamb, and a dessert with Welsh honey. They had three hours to complete the challenge.
I am absolutely thrilled to have won, but I have to admit that I am shocked!
I wasn't expecting to win at all. The other three chefs were of a very high calibre so to have won is a brilliant feeling; it will take a while to sink in.
Thomas Martin, 22, sous chef at The Brook Bistro in Whitchurch, Cardiff, and the Celtic Manor's Daniel Britton, 21, were third and fourth respectively.
The victorious 20-year-old will automatically progress through to the semi-finals of the UK-wide Young National Chef of the Year, which is organised by the Craft Guild of Chefs. All four Welsh finalists had qualified by winning their challenging regional events.
Sion will now go on an all-expenses-paid visit to the Worldchefs Congress 2020 with the Culinary Association of Wales, which organised the Welsh International Culinary Championships, where he will be part of the Worldchefs 'Young Chefs Club'. In addition, he will be invited to a study tour hosted by Koppert Cress in the Netherlands and received a set of engraved F. Dick Knives, as well as £100 worth of Churchill products.
The Welsh International Culinary Championships are organised by the Culinary Association of Wales and the main sponsor is Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government's department representing the food and drink industry.
In the recent Estyn government inspection, the college's hospitality and catering provision was classed as 'excellent'.
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.