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Llandrillo Students Qualify for National Seafood Chef of the Year Grand Final

A pair of budding chefs from Coleg Llandrillo have qualified for the grand final of one of the UK’s most prestigious cooking competitions, and are now one step away from winning the trophy, a range of industry prizes and the chance of a work placement with chef/legend Rick Stein!

Jay Rees, 20 from Chester and Pippa Taylor, 19 from Bodelwyddan, beat off fierce competition from teams from across the UK in the Western heat to qualify for the UK final of the ‘National Seafood Chef of the Year 2022’ competition in the summer.

Work placements with the final’s judges - some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry - await the lucky winners. The judges are Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw, Mitch Tonks and Mark Hicks!

Jay is studying for a Foundation Degree in Culinary Arts and Pippa is enrolled on the VRQ Level 3 Diploma in Professional Cookery course. Both study at the college’s Rhos-on-Sea campus.

They were one of only three teams to qualify for the national final from the last of three regional heats, which took place at Coleg Llandrillo. The other successful pairs from the Llandrillo heat were from University College Birmingham and Exeter College.

During the heat, the quest to find the next generation of culinary talent began with each team of two young chefs preparing and presenting three appetising seafood dishes, comprising a starter course, an intermediate course and a main course.

Jay and Pippa earned their place in the final by preparing a three-course menu comprising smoked haddock, Dover sole and monkfish, all created using sustainably-sourced seafood.

The 2022 ‘National Seafood Chef of the Year’ competition – which is celebrating its 25th anniversary and is sponsored by Seafish, the public body which supports the multi-billion-pound UK seafood industry - offers participants a platform to demonstrate their flair and skills using sustainable seafood.

The talented Llandrillo duo will compete against eight other teams of two in front of judges at the final, to be held at The Grimsby Institute, Grimsby in June. The victorious team will win a placement with one of the celebrity chef judges, as well as industry standard knife sets and cookbooks.

Jay said: “We were shocked but delighted when our names were called out. I am very proud of our achievements. We put a lot of work into preparing for this competition and both of us can’t wait to battle it out in the grand final.”

One of the pair’s tutors, Mike Evans, said: “They exceeded all expectations and performed brilliantly as a team on the day. We wish them all the best for the final.”

Nikki Hawkins, judge and independent consultant, said: “Founded in 1996, the ‘National Seafood Chef of the Year’ competition continues to uncover incredible talent. The standard of cooking in this heat has been exceptional, with each team impressing us with the skill and creativity in their dishes.

“This competition is highly regarded in the seafood industry. It offers ambitious young chefs the opportunity to demonstrate their ability and confidence in working with a range of sustainable seafood, and the chance to potentially boost their future careers.

“Today’s winners will now have their sights firmly set on the final in Grimsby, and we’re looking forward to seeing what they have to offer the judges.” The other judges on the day were Ben Bartlett and Simon Geldart, who coincidentally is an ex-Coleg Llandrillo student from over 20 years ago!

The college was recently awarded an 'excellent' by Estyn for its Hospitality & Catering provision.

For more information on our courses in Hospitality & Catering, please call the college’s Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.