Nathan Racey and Dylan Patel were awarded silver and bronze place in the competition run by contract catering and hospitality provider Compass Group UK.
The pair competed alongside other four other young chefs to create a three-course meal in three hours at the company’s head office in Chertsey, Surrey.
The competition was judged by a panel headed up by Michelin-starred celebrity chef Marcus Wareing.
Nathan, 19, from Braintree, Essex, who is completing a Chef de Partie apprenticeship with catering company Levy UK, served up a roast pigeon starter, a main course of halibut, crispy oyster and artichoke followed by a lemon posset for dessert.
He said: “I went into the competition with the intention to win but it didn’t quite go my way. It was still a good experience and good to have two apprentices from WestKing in the top three. I also got to meet Marcus Wareing and got his feedback, which was really inspiring.
“I was confident with my dishes and happy with all my flavours. I would’ve like to have done a couple of things differently to refine them, but overall I was pleased with how they turned out.
“I have taken part in a couple of competitions, and every time you come out a stronger chef and take things you’ve learnt into the next. You are working in an intense environment, infusing flavours and creating menus and dishes, which you can take anywhere else.”
Dylan, 24, from Hounslow, who is undertaking a Commis Chef apprenticeship with Restaurant Associates Group, cooked an Indian inspired menu.
He started with crispy fried Dover sole and a selection of chutneys followed by a main course of roasted guinea fowl, aloo gobi and makhana sauce. His dessert was a carrot halwa with pistachio ice cream.
Dylan said: “This was my first competition and it was a great experience. It was quite tense. There were a lot of spices to each element and I only had a minute left when it was plated up to be served.
“Because of lockdown I’ve only worked for three months on my apprenticeship, but I’ve still been coming into college once a week to practise with my tutor Nick Gunyon. I don’t think I would’ve come in the top three if it wasn’t for him.
“The competition has boosted my confidence in the kitchen at home and at work. I’ve learnt to refine my dishes, shown more attention to detail and brought up the standard of my cooking than when I first started.”
Marcus praised all the finalists in the competition, which was also judged by Nick Vadis, Culinary Director of Compass Group UK and Paul Mannering and Mark Belford, from HIT Training.
He said: “It takes a very brave chef to enter into a competition. When you spend your time working in teams, especially at apprenticeship level, to compete on your own can be hard.
“I judged the semi-finals as well, and from then to today all I can say is wow! What an amazing achievement. Every single finalist has improved so much in such a short space of time – you’ve gone home and studied your menus and that really showed today.”
Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “It’s been so rewarding to watch all the apprentices who took part and demonstrated their resilience, determination and skills. This competition is evidence of the benefits of apprenticeships in supporting the skills development of our future talent.”
WestKing is one of the country’s leading providers of Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses and apprenticeships, with many of its alumni established chefs in top restaurants.
Congratulating both apprentices, Nick Gunyon, Curriculum Manager for Hospitality Apprenticeships, said: “During his time at college, Nathan has been developing the skills he has been learning in the workplace and driven them forward in his competition work. He has shown amazing talent and is definitely one to watch in the future.
“Dylan has made the best use of his time during lockdown by entering the competition, creating his chosen dishes and practising them at college. He has a fantastic attitude, and as a young chef in his first year of cooking he has already achieved so much.”