Eleven contenders are competing for the coveted Junior Chef of Wales title and a fantastic prize in two regional heats, one at the Coleg y Cymoedd Nantgarw campus.
The South Wales heat at Coleg y Cymoedd on January 14 was contested by five chefs, including a Coleg y Cymoedd learner who was up against chefs already working in well-known restaurants and hotels.
Apart from the prestige of being the best young chef in Wales, the champion will also win an all-expenses paid trip to represent Wales at the Junior Forum at the World Association of Chefs’ Societies Congress in Athens, Greece in May 2016.
The winners of each heat together with the two highest scoring runners up will qualify for the final to be held at Coleg Llandrillo on February 16, on the eve of the Welsh International Culinary Championships.
Organised every two years by the Culinary Association of Wales, the Junior Chef of Wales contest is sponsored by the Welsh Government to promote the Food and Drink Wales brand.
The chefs were asked to submit their own creative menu for a three course dinner for four persons, using a selection of Welsh products. From the entry forms and menus, a panel of experienced judges selected the best entrants to compete in the regional finals where they will have three hours to cook their dishes.
The South Wales heat contestants are: Ian McCormack and Wensley Macauly both from Coleg y Cymoedd alongside Benjamin Cooke from Brains, Cardiff, Andrew Tabberner from Coast Restaurant, Saundersfoot, and Vivienne Read from Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.
Culinary Association Wales president Colin Gray, owner of Capital Cuisine, said he was delighted with the number of entries this year and looked forward to two keenly contested heats.
He explained that the competition could be a stepping stone to joining the junior Culinary Team Wales in the future.
“The Junior Chef of Wales contest provides the perfect platform for young chefs to demonstrate their skills and catch the eye of national team selectors,” he added. “Previous winners have gone on to compete for Wales at all the major culinary competitions around the world.
“For example, the Junior Chef of Wales winner in 2013, Chris Tull, captained the junior Culinary Team Wales at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg next month, where they won silver and bronze medals.”
The bi-annual hunt for Wales’ culinary stars of the future began with the North Wales head at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos-on-Sea, where six chefs competed for a place in the final.
Competing in the North Wales heat are: Arron Tye from Shared Olive, Hawarden, Mathew Morris from Bar Uno, Bangor University, Joshua Hughes from Quay Hotel, Deganwy, Sam Ricketts from Signatures Restaurant, Conwy, James Roberts from Ty Gwyn Hotel, Betws y Coed and Ryan Philipps from Castle Hotel, Conwy.