Four days of intense competitions and mouthwatering cooking by some of the best chefs in Europe. That’s the successful recipe for the Welsh International Culinary Championships which return to North Wales from February 20-23.
Around 300 chefs and waiting staff are expected to compete at the annual showcase of culinary talent held at Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos-on-Sea, which begins with the Junior Chef of Wales on Monday, February 20.
Organised by the Culinary Association of Wales, the WICC has Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government’s department representing the food and drink industry, as its main sponsor. The event is packed with exciting competitions for learner, junior and senior chefs and waiting staff.
The Junior Chef of Wales finalists include Harry Paynter-Roberts from the Castle Hotel, Conwy and Steffan Davies from Gidleigh Park, Exeter, who were members of the junior Culinary Team Wales which excelled in winning two silver medals at the Culinary Olympics. They will be competing against 2016 Junior Chef of Wales runner-up James Corbett from the Elephant and Castle Hotel, Newtown and Harry Osborne from Signatures, Llandudno.
They will be given three hours to cook a three course meal for four people and will be keen to impress a panel of judges. The chefs must be under the age of 23 years and live or work in Wales or have been born in the country to qualify.
Apart from the kudos of being named best in Wales, the winners of the junior final will automatically go through to the UK semi-finals of the Junior Chef of the Year contest.
National pride will be at stake when talented chefs from Culinary Team Wales take on rivals Italy and Austria in the Battle of the Dragon contest, which starts on Tuesday and runs until Thursday. Each team has to cook a three course menu for 85 diners.
The teams’ dishes and cooking skills will be closely examined by a panel of experienced international judges, who will announce the Battle for the Dragon winners at the WICC Awards dinner at Llandudno Bay Hotel on Thursday, February 23.
Tickets for each Battle for the Dragon lunch cost £26 or £23 each when booking all three. As there is limited availability, people are advised to book immediately to avoid disappointment. Contact Vicky Watkins, Culinary Association of Wales, on Tel: 01938 555893 email: Office@welshculinaryassociation.com
The competitions end on Thursday with the National Chef of Wales final which will be contested by six chefs and split into two heats. Culinary Team Wales colleagues Simon Crockford from the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport and Jason Hughes from Chateau Rhianfa, Menai Bridge will be up against Matthew Smith from Nag’s Head, Garthmyl, near Montgomery, Thomas Westerland from Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, near Bath who was beaten finalist last year, Matthew Ramsdale from The Chester Grosvenor and Anthony Bush from Heronston Hotel, Bridgend.
The winner will secure an all expenses paid, one week culinary trip to the Netherlands courtesy of Koppertcress, which includes an ‘inspirational day’ with a cress coach, a set of knives courtesy of Dick Knives, £250 worth of products from Churchill China and Gourmet Classic shopping vouchers. The winner will also be encouraged to represent Wales in the UK National Chef of the Year contest.
The growing popularity of baking, sugarcraft and cake decorating will be reflected in the Cake Cymru show, which will run throughout the WICC, with entries expected from across Wales and England.
Culinary Association of Wales president Arwyn Watkins said: “We have decided to make Thursday the National Chef of Wales day at the Welsh International Culinary Championships. Due to the calibre of entries this year, we felt it would be an injustice not to have all six chefs competing in the final, so we decided to split the final into two heats.
“It’s also great to see three members of the senior Culinary Team Wales and two members of the junior team stepping up as individuals to compete in the finals, which will showcase the culinary talent that the nation has.
“We are also delighted to be welcoming the culinary teams from Italy and Austria to compete in the Battle for the Dragon contest over three days. With an international jury, this looks to be a very promising and intense three days of competition for the dragon.”
“The Welsh International Culinary Championships promise to be a celebration of culinary talent and a fantastic showcase for Wales and the nation’s high quality food.”
Sponsors of the WICC include Food and Drink Wales, Meat Promotion Wales/Hybu Cig Cymru, Castell Howell, Harlech Foods, Nuttals, Churchill, MCS Tech, Rollergrill, Koppertcress and Dick Knives.