More than 350 chefs from across Wales and England will competing at the Welsh International Culinary Championships in North Wales next week.
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s, Rhos-on-Sea campus welcomes the annual four-day event, which sees all the nation’s culinary competitions brought together in one venue for the first time.
In addition to the National and Junior Chef of Wales finals and the Battle for the Dragon contest, there will be the culinary finals of Skills Competition Wales and the Major International Regional Competition.
The Junior Chef of Wales final and Skills Competition Wales culinary finals get the WICC underway on Monday afternoon. Seeking to become Wales’ top junior chef are finalists: Harry Paynter-Roberts, 20, Manchester House Restaurant, Manchester; Arron Tye, 22, Carden Park Hotel, Chester; Oliver Thompson, 19, The Bull, Beaumaris; Luke Jordan, 20, who works at Slaughters Manor House, Cheltenham and Martin Thomas, 21, Marine Parade, Cardiff.
Paynter-Roberts is looking to go one better after being a finalist this year. The Junior Chef of Wales winner will automatically qualify for the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Young National Chef of the Year contest semi-final, receive a study tour with Koppert Cress and receive a set of engraved knives from Friedr Dick.
The growing popularity of baking, sugarcraft and cake decorating is reflected in the Cake Cymru show, which opens on Tuesday, with entries expected from across Wales and England.
The Battle for the Dragon contest begins on Wednesday, with the Junior Culinary Team Wales competing against England’s junior team. Wales are first into the kitchen followed by England on Thursday, with both teams challenged to prepare and cook a three-course meal for 80 paying guests in three hours.
The Skills Competition Wales culinary finals and the Major International Regional Competition run from Monday to Wednesday alongside a wide range of WICC competitions for chefs and front of house staff.
The event concludes on Thursday with the prestigious National Chef of Wales final, which sees eight chefs compete in morning and afternoon heats. They will be given three hours to prepare and cook a three-course menu for four people using Welsh ingredients wherever possible.
The finalists are: Jake Mann, 26, The Bull, Beaumaris; John Quill, 45, JQ Catering Services LTD, Barry; Dion Jones, 30, Carden Park Hotel, Chester; Matthew Ramsdale, 25, The Chester Grosvenor, Chester; Matthew Smith, 34, Hawkstone Park Hotel, Weston-under-Redcastle, Shrewsbury; Wayne Bernard, 35, Pier 64, Penarth Marina, Cardiff; Tom Westerland, 26, Lucknam Park Hotel, Colerne and Gavin Kellett, 33, The Vine Tree, Llangattock, Crickhowell.
In addition to the coveted title, the national chef winner will receive a study tour with Koppert Cress, £250 worth of Churchill products and an engraved set of knives made by Friedr Dick.
Winners of the showpiece competitions will be announced at a presentation dinner at Llandudno Bay Hotel, Llandudno on Thursday night, which will be attended by Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs.
Organised by the Culinary Association of Wales, then WICC’s main sponsor is Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government’s department representing the food and drink industry.
Other sponsors include Meat Promotion Wales/Hybu Cig Cymru, Castell Howell, Major International, Harlech Foods, H. N. Nuttall, Churchill, MCS Tech, Rollergrill, Koppertcress and Dick Knives.
Arwyn Watkins, Culinary Association of Wales president, said:
“The Welsh International Culinary Championships is the perfect place for all the nation’s culinary competitions to come together for the first time.
“I welcome the co-operation and collaboration by the competitions’ organisers and it promises to be a fantastic showcase for culinary and hospitality skills over four days at Coleg Llandrillo Menai. I encourage members of the public to come along and see the talented chefs and front of house staff in action.”