This year’s young chef competition was held in Manchester, UK, a city in which the first computer was developed and the atom discovered. Therefore everyone was sure we would see something exciting in the culinary field at this competition. The 24 young chefs from all over the world representing the 5 continents met a few days before the competition. David R Tetrault, President of this competition and his team along with the organizing committee of the UK Baillage put together a great program for the young chefs. Visits to different markets and a meat workshop were arranged to prepare and familiarize the competitors with the local ingredients. Of course in the football city of Manchester, there was also time scheduled for a visit to the holy ground of Manchester United football stadium with a private back of house tour to give an insight into this massive catering operation.
On Thursday was the tour of the competition venue, at Manchester College and the briefing with the draw of the kitchen numbers. For the judges, we had our briefing in the afternoon at the Midland Hotel in the same room where the auto company Rolls Royce was created, so the signal for a high standard was set!
Group A had an early start as did the kitchen team and the kitchen judges who all started at 6am. The 1st group got to see the mystery box which contained 2 rabbits, 1 big live crab, various vegetables, fruit, and chocolates provided by our sponsor Valrhona as well as the common table with many more ingredients to cook the 3 courses. After 30 min menu writing, the action started in the kitchen. I had the great pleasure to judge again and it was my 10th time to be involved in observing the talent of these young chefs competing for the Chaine and their countries.
The Manchester College was a perfect venue and the staff was very helpful throughout the long day. Just before lunch, time was up and the dishes were presented to the tasting judges. After a quick turn around Group B started in the afternoon for the 2nd heat. Our young Chef Mithun from Radisson Blu Deira representing UAE was in that group. Like the group before, some chefs were challenged by the rabbit and the live crab but in the end, all 24 competitors managed to create a nice 3-course menu. Chef Mithun did a great job but to see if he would be in the top 3 we all had to wait until the award ceremony and Gala dinner on Saturday. By 6.30 pm the last desserts were served and it was time to clean up and head off. It may have been a long day but it was worth it to see some great dishes and 24 talented chefs showing off their skills and abilities.
At 9am Saturday we had our debrief sessions with all the competitors and judges as feedback is very important for the young chefs. Only a few more hours before the 3 winners were announced and all the competitors get inducted into the Chaine des Rotisseurs. At 4.30 the award ceremony started with thanks and acknowledgment of the organizing committee, Manchester College, sponsors and judges by the members. I was honoured to receive a special thank you for my 10th anniversary judging the competition.
Then to the results: the highest score from the kitchen jury went to Chef Mackenzie Fergusan from Canada who also took 3rd place, New Zealand made history with young chef William Shane Mordido who won the 2nd prize which means he is the first Kiwi chef in the top 3 in the 40-year history of the competition. The winner this year is Christoph Eckert from Germany. Well done to all 24 young chefs! The standard gets higher each year which shows the importance and relevance of this competition in the culinary world of young chefs.
It was a very exciting and successful event for everyone involved and the 2016 Manchester Grand Chapitre 2016 will stay in our memory for a long time.
We all look forward to doing it all over again and give other young chefs the opportunity to compete in this very prestigious competition.
See you in Australia next year and vive la Chaine.