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Coleg Llandrillo Student Crowned Junior Chef of Wales

A Coleg Llandrillo Hospitality & Catering student is the new Junior Chef of Wales after winning a final cook-off against four rivals at the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC), which were recently held at Coleg Llandrillo’s Rhos-on-Sea campus.

Besides claiming the prestigious title and the Dragon Trophy, Dalton Weir, 22, from Llandudno, head chef at Watson’s Bistro, Conwy, also won a chance of a lifetime trip to the Worldchefs Congress 2022 in Abu Dhabi with the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) delegation from May 30 to June 2.

Dalton received the trophy from Minister Lesley Griffiths at a presentation evening in Llandudno hours after the curtain came down on this year’s championships. Dalton took a year out last year and is planning to complete his Culinary Arts Degree with the college in September.

He also qualified for the semi-finals of the Young National Chef of the Year contest, organised by the Craft Guild of Chefs and will receive support from the Junior Culinary Team Wales. In addition, the prize included a set of knives from Friedr Dick and £100 of products from Churchill.

“I am over the moon because it was a hard competition and I didn’t expect to win,” said Dalton. “I have wanted to do this competition for a few years and this was my last chance because of my age.

“Winning the competition means a lot because it will open doors for me in the future.”

Runner up and silver medallist was Falon Bailie, 17, from Three Cocks, apprentice chef de partie at Foyles of Glasbury, Glasbury and bronze medallists were Stephanie Belcher, 21, from Abergavenny, sous chef at Peterstone Court Hotel, Llanhamlach, Brecon, Cai Morris, 21, from Llandegfan, chef de partie at The Bull, Beaumaris and Katie Duffy, 17, an apprentice at Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli.

Dalton Weir’s starter was miso poached langoustine tart, chilli and red pepper veil, carrot and nori salad and chilled avocado. Main course is pan-seared Welsh Beef fillet, oyster mushroom filled with Welsh Beef short rub, pomme souffle, caramelised celeriac, chive and wasabi emulsion, pickled shimeji mushroom and port wine.

Dessert was rhubarb and custard: hot aerated custard cake, Lapsang Souchong and rhubarb sorbet, vanilla poached rhubarb, white chocolate soil and tempered ruby chocolate.

Dalton describes his cooking style as classic with a modern twist and says the biggest influence on his career to date has been Marco Pierre White’s philosophy on food. His ambition is to travel as a chef and to work at a top international restaurant.

Organised by the CAW, the WICC were hosted by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s campus in Rhos-on-Sea from February 22-24 and main sponsor was Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Government’s department representing the food and drink industry.

The judges were Colin Gray, managing director of Capital Cuisine, Caerphilly, Graham Tinsley, executive chef Carden Park, near Chester and Lee Corke, catering manager, Clare College, Cambridge.

Gray, CAW vice president, said: “It was a keenly contested final but Dalton’s previous competition experience just gave him the edge. For many of the finalists, it was their first competition and their dishes were of a good standard. It’s pleasing to see that Wales is producing so many bright, young chefs who want to compete, especially as we are always scouting for members of Junior Culinary Team Wales.”

The five chefs had three hours to prepare and cook a three course meal for four people, including mostly Welsh ingredients, a seafood starter or fish appetiser will be followed by a main course featuring one prime cut and one secondary cut of Welsh Beef and a seasonal dessert including chocolate and one hot element.

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.