Vacherin team clinches ACE’s Ready Steady Cook title

ACE Ready Steady Cook Vacherin
Sue Thompson, vice chair ACE, Lewis Linley and Gemma Vardon of Vacherin and Gary King of event sponsor Collins King
21/09/2018 - 09:30
The Vacherin contract catering team of Lewis Linley and Gemma Vardon won the Association of Catering Excellence’s 20th annual Ready Steady Cook competition held last night at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London.

Lexington’s team finished second and third spot went to the pair from Compass’s Restaurant Associates brand.

There was also an award for Young Chef, which was won by 20-year-old Felicia Amofah from Blue Apple, who has been with the company for just seven months and was encouraged to go into catering by her chef manager father.

As well as the overall winners, ACE continues to encourage up and coming young talent in the foodservice sector with the Young Chef Award. Each team included a chef aged 26 or under, many of whom were apprentices.

The Vacherin team’s menu was roast pigeon, pancetta, sweet potato, broccoli cous cous, pickled blackberries and sweet potato crisps followed by a dessert of almond financier, orange, roast fig and honey and yoghurt espuma with almond crumb.

Linley said after the announcement: “We hoped to see some seasonal ingredients as we had been practising some ideas, so we were pleased to see the choices we had.”

Team-mate Vardon added: “We were really honoured to be chosen to represent Vacherin, and to actually win was amazing.”

After receiving her Young Chef Award, Amofah said: “My cooking partner, Pete lives and works in Coventry so I’ve been up there a few times so we could practise cooking together.”

On the judging panel were Steven Lickley, a Ready Steady Cook winner in 2015 and Masterchef finalist in 2016, and Daniel Ayton, Senior Vice President of World Masterchefs and member of Reunion Gastronomes and Chaine GB.

Joining them, and looking out for the young chefs, was 22 year old Ruth Hansom, the first female winner of Young National Chef of the Year competition and currently head chef at Luton Hoo.

She said: “I agreed to judge the competition and become involved in ACE as I think it’s really important to have a mix of ages in organisations like this to inspire young people to join the industry.

“I like the fact the teams include a mentor and a younger person, it’s good to see them working together.”

The teams of two had just 30 minutes to plan and prepare a main course and dessert in front of a live audience of over 250. The ingredients were revealed to them half an hour ahead of time. The main items were wood pigeon, pancetta, chicken livers and pork fillet, plus they had accesss to a range of store cupboard ingredients, fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits all supplied by British Premium Meats, 4degC and kff.

The other teams competing were Bartlett Mitchell, BaxterStorey, CH&Co, Gather & Gather, Genuine Dining Company, Graysons, Green and Fortune, HIT, Holroyd Howe, ISS Food & Hospitality.

The event also raised £500 for the Wiggly Worm charity, which aims to inspire and educate vulnerable and disadvantaged people to give them opportunities to work with food.

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