We’re proud to announce that Graham Kerry, one of our Level 2 Professional Cookery students, was awarded 2nd place in the national Tabasco Hot Chef Competition during Hotelympia, the UK's largest foodservice and hospitality event, held at Excel London on 6th March.
Run in partnership with the Craft Guild of Chefs, the competition challenged applicants to create a starter and main course, with the dishes being assessed on flavour, creative use of at least one of the Tabasco pepper sauces and ease of service in a pub environment. Competitors also had to provide a detailed cost for the dishes with a cost per portion and recommended selling price upon submission. After initially being selected as one of 25 semi-finalists out of thousands of entrants nationwide, Graham was then placed by judges in the top five, winning him a place in the final.
The action took place in the Hotelympia Live Theatre area, with Graham going head-to-head against the other 10 finalists in front of a live audience, with competitors given one hour to prepare and cook their menu. Graham served a starter of Duck scotch egg with a spicy salsa and Tabasco dressing and a main of crab cannelloni with fresh tomato and asparagus.
Graham’s dishes impressed the judging panel, which included chef and Guild member, Steve Munkley, Tabasco brand corporate chef, Gary Evans, development director for Creative Foods Europe, Lee Tynan and Stonegate Pub Company’s director of food, Kevin Steppe.
Andrew Green, Craft Guild of Chefs director of operation, said: “All competitors worked extremely hard. This competition is a great opportunity for young chefs to be recognised for their talent and skills.”
The winner was Emily Orton from Lexington Catering, who took home an all-expenses paid trip to Avery Island (Louisiana, where Tabasco sauce is made) as well as her dishes featuring on Stonegate pubs and restaurant menus across the country.
Graham said: "I'd have never found out about the competition if my tutor hadn't let me know about it, and he strongly encouraged me to enter. I very much doubt I'd have entered any competitions without my tutors pushing me to do so though, so thanks very much to them.”
Graham’s tutor, Andrew Barker, said: “We as a catering department are very proud of Graham’s achievements in the final. He missed out on the first prize by just a few marks, but beat chefs from some of the country’s leading catering colleges, including Westminster Kingsway College. Graham has worked so hard for the last few months and I’ve enjoyed working with him as his personal tutor, getting him to a high standard to compete with the best.”