The executive head chef at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport has booked his place in the National Chef of Wales contest final by winning the South Wales heat.
Michael Bates, 53, who is also chef patron of the award-winning White Hart Village Inn, Llangybi, beat three rivals to win a closely contested regional heat at Pembrokeshire College, Haverfordwest.
He now goes through to the high profile final cook-off to be held at Coleg Llandrillo on Monday, February 24 next year, where the winner will receive £2,000 prizemoney as well as the coveted title of best chef in Wales.
The final is held on the eve of the three-day Welsh International Culinary Championships at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos on Sea which attracts chefs from around the globe.
The bi-annual competition is organised by the Culinary Association of Wales and sponsored by the Welsh Government, Unilever Food Solutions Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales.
The North Wales heat was due to have been held today (Monday) at Coleg Llandrillo but was postponed as a mark of respect after one of the contestants – Scott Torrens, 21, from Croes Howell, Wrexham – died at the weekend. The two regional winners will be joined in the final by the two highest scoring runners up from the combined heats.
Bates competed against workmate Karl Jones-Hughes from the Celtic Manor Resort,
Mike Silcox from Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran and Ryan Jones from Abergavenny Fine Foods in the South Wales heat
His winning menu opened with a starter of smoked line caught mackerel and razor clams, horseradish and lemon quinoa, Halon Mon beetroot, soused carrot, charred cauliflower, saffron shallot, radish, coriander leaves and tomato seed curry dressing.
Main course was organic roast chicken with potato gnocchi, bread sauce, sage and onion wing, bacon, devilled ragout of chicken liver, heart and cock’s comb, peas, feves, curly kale, winter mushroom and tarragon jus.
Dessert was apple and ginger sponge, Calvados custard, taffy apple sour jelly, apple meringue, toffee sauce, ginger parfait and apple mint leaves.
“I was really pleased with the dishes,” said Bates, who was a National Chef of Wales finalist in 2000 and winner of the European Spa Chef of the Year in 2001. “The main course was a modern twist on a traditional roast chicken dinner. It’s really rewarding when you come up with a menu idea and it works.
“I get a real sense of fulfilment from competing and knowing that I’ve achieved the three dishes within the time limit and produced a good quality, professional meal. I want to challenge myself to go that extra mile.”
Reflecting on his last appearance in the competition final, he said: “I wasn’t ready for it then. Now I have a different view on food, am much more relaxed and enjoy competing.”
Chairman of the judges, Graham Tinsley, manager of the Welsh National Culinary Team and executive chef at De Vere Carden Park near Chester, said: “The overall standard of the dishes in the South Wales heat was very good and it was a tight competition. Mike had the edge with the best overall meal.”
In the North Wales heat, the date of which is being rearranged, the competitors are Jack Davison from St Tudno Hotel, Llandudno, Andrea Leisinger from the Imperial Hotel, Llandudno, Kyle Wilkinson from the Cross Foxes, Dolgellau and Ibrahim Elshzly from the Celtic Royal Hotel, Caernarfon.
For more information please contact Colin Gray, Culinary Association of Wales president, on 02920 851997 or 07957 422546 or Duncan Foulkes, press officer, on 01686 650818.