A CHEF from a Leamington hotel is among the cream of the country’s culinary crop.
Paul Foster, head chef at Mallory Court Hotel, was runner-up in the prestigious Craft Guild of Chefs’ National Chef of the Year competition.
He was one of just eight chefs from around the country to reach the final which took place recently at The Restaurant Show at London’s Olympia.
The finalists were given just two hours to produce four covers consisting of a starter and main course using seafood and meat selected from a mystery basket. They also had to create a hot or cold dessert using chocolate and coffee.
Paul impressed with his starter of seared scallops and poached coley with dill dressing, shaved turnip and crispy sea purslane; a main of roast Aylesbury duck with blackberries, citrus crumb, crushed celeriac and umbles; and a dessert of chocolate and coffee delice, hazelnut cake and Greek yoghurt sorbet.
The dishes were judged by a panel of some of Britain’s most accomplished chefs, which this year was chaired by Clare Smyth, chef patron at the three Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
The National Chef of the Year is the UK’s most sought-after chef prize, with many winners going on to gain industry-wide recognition – among them Gordon Ramsay.
David Mulcahy, vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the competition, said: “The National Chef of the Year is a benchmark for chef talent in the UK and a career-enhancing challenge for anyone who takes part.
“Not only is the award highly respected but the competition process itself provides an unrivalled platform for testing your culinary skills to the max.”
Mallory Court’s General Manager, Sarah Baker, said Paul richly deserved his award.
She added: “Paul is passionate about the food he presents and is a real inspiration to his team at Mallory Court. He’s a great talent and his enthusiasm and commitment are infectious.”
Paul, whose career has included periods at Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, joined Mallory Court as Head Chef in February 2014. He has appeared on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen and BBC Two’s Great British Menu and has earned high praise from some of the industry’s most highly regarded food critics, including Observer reviewer and MasterChef critic Jay Rayner.
The title was won by Larry Jayasekara, sous chef at Gordon Ramsay Holdings. Third place went to Martin Carabott from The Royal Automobile Club.