A Westminster Kingsway College student found the recipe for success to win Best Vegetarian Dish in this year’s International Young Chef Olympiad.
Joe Slater, 18, also came fourth overall in the global competition against students and apprentices from across six continents and 24 time zones.
The International Young Chef Olympiad, in its eighth year, saw participants take a skills test, before a cooking challenge with the top 10 going through to a final cook-off to decide the winner.
The first round involved the making of a vegetarian pasta dish and crème caramel with the chefs making it through to the final round asked to create a chicken dish using mystery ingredients.
The competition was held online for a second year due to the COVID pandemic and was judged by independent professional chefs in the countries being represented.
Joe, who is in the third year of a Professional Chef diploma, said: “It was an honour to be picked to represent England in the Young Chef Olympiad 2022. I did my best and was happy with how my dishes turned out. I couldn’t have done much more.”
“I felt well-prepared, particularly for the first round, because I’d practised that a lot. I was a bit nervous at first, but I began to settle down once I got going. It was a great experience and made me a better chef.”
Joe, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, works as a part-time chef at The Chequers Inn in the nearby village of Weston Turville at weekends.
“The competition taught me a lot about time management and being able to precisely prep dishes and make them quickly,” he said.
“It was a good opportunity to push myself further and test myself against other young chefs and see what I could achieve. It looks good on my CV and will really help my career.”
Joe was mentored for the competition by WestKing Chef Lecturer Chris Basten, a former chair of the Craft Guild of Chefs.
He said: “We are exceptionally proud of Joe. He has worked tirelessly to practise and hone his culinary skills and created fantastic dishes in the competition and rightly got the recognition his hard work and commitment deserves.
“I would like to congratulate Joe on this fantastic achievement. He is a fantastic student who has proved himself to be a skilled and competent chef on the world stage. He is a credit to the college and definitely one to watch out for in the future.”
WestKing is one of the UK’s leading schools for Hospitality and Culinary Arts with alumni including Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriott and Sophie Wright.
Westminster Kingsway College’s chef and hospitality training restaurants The Vincent Rooms have been named among the best restaurants in the world.
Travel review website Tripadvisor announced the restaurants were among the winners of its Travellers’ Choice 2020 awards on Twitter.
The win places The Vincent Rooms in the top 10 per cent of restaurants worldwide.
The Vincent Rooms at the Victoria Centre include the Brasserie and the more exclusive Escoffier Room. Both the kitchens and front of house are staffed by hospitality and culinary arts students.
Each year Tripadvisor pulls together reviews and ratings from travellers around the world to determine the best hotels, restaurants, attractions, airlines, destinations and experiences.
The Vincent Rooms have received 300 reviews and an average score of 4.5 out of five on Tripadvisor, with the restaurants currently ranked 114th out of 16,757 in London
One impressed diner described the food as “absolutely delicious and beautifully presented” adding “all the students who served us were very professional and attentive”.
Others have described the restaurants as “a real gem” and a “really perfect dining experience”.
One wrote: “If our tasting menu in the Escoffier Room was anything to go by, the college attracts real talent – and trains it beautifully, so plaudits to the teaching staff as well as the students.”
WestKing offers a wide range of vocational courses, apprenticeships and degrees in all aspects of hospitality and culinary arts, including its renowned Grand Escoffier Diploma.
Many famous and established chefs have learned their craft at the College including Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriott, Antony Worrall Thompson, Sophie Wright and Ben Murphy.
Hospitality lecturer Marc Whitley said: “I’m extremely proud of the hard work and dedication the students have put in to achieve such an outstanding accolade, especially for a college restaurant.
“This award is fantastic because it’s essentially voted on by the guests that eat at our restaurants and will help us continue to prepare students well for the hospitality industry. It’s also a real inspiration for our students and team as we head into the new academic year.”
Gary Hunter, Interim Principal of Westminster Kingsway College, himself a trained chef, said: “For the past six years we have received awards from Tripadvisor, but this is absolutely brilliant. To be in the top 10 per cent of restaurants globally is a huge achievement.”
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