Chefs and butchers compete for national glory at Wales’ premier event

Culinary and butchery skills will be showcased during three days of competitions as the annual Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC) begins tomorrow (Tuesday).

Wales’ premier culinary and butchery event, organised by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) and held at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s campus in Rhos-on-Sea, brings together talented competitors from across Wales and England.

The WICC features the showpiece finals of the National and Junior Chef of Wales and Welsh Butcher of the Year contests, together with a host of other competitions for chefs and front of house staff to suit every level of experience.

Winners of all the competitions will be announced at an awards dinner at The Imperial Hotel, Llandudno on Thursday night.

The National Chef of Wales final will contested by nine chefs, including three finalists from last year’s competition. Robert Cave, head chef at Rookery Hall Hotel, Crewe, Matthew Smith, chef lecturer at Cheshire South & West College and Wayne Barnard, senior chef de partie at Holm House Hotel, Penarth, will again contest the final.

Up against them in a high quality contest will be Dan Andree, head chef at Beach House Restaurant, Oxwich, Swansea; Jamie Tully, executive chef at Chartist 1770 at The Trewythen, Llanidloes; Sophie Rowe, chef de partie at Gaerwen Arms, Gaerwen, Anglesey; Matthew Owen, head chef at the Celtic Collection, Newport; David Williams, head chef at Ty Cwm Gwendraeth, Llanelli and Dalton Weir, sous chef at The Cottage Loaf, Llandudno.

Dalton is bidding to complete the double by winning the Junior and National Chef of Wales titles in successive years. The first heat of the National Chef of Wales final is being held tomorrow, with the second heat on Wednesday.

The Junior Chef of Wales final, which will be held on Thursday, will be contested by five chefs, including three of last year’s finalists. Falon Bailie, junior sous chef at Foyles of Glasbury, Katie Duffy, second chef at Llanelly House, Llanelli, and Stephanie Belcher, chef de partie at Coast, Saundersfoot.

They will be in a cook-off against Oliver Herrington, demi chef de partie at Celtic Manor Resort, Newport and Abigail Williams, a student at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw Campus.

At stake in the National Chef of the Wales final is £500 for the winner, £300 for the runner-up and £200 for third place. The winner will also receive a set of engraved knives from Friedr Dick and £250 worth of Churchill products.

In the final, chefs must cook their own creative menu for a three course dinner for 12 people within five hours, using a majority of Welsh ingredients. Their starter must be suitable for vegans, the main course must use two different cuts of PGI Welsh Lamb and the dessert must feature seasonal fruits, an ice cream, chocolate and biscuit or tuille.

Members of the public will have a chance to sample the dishes cooked by the National Chef of Wales finalists tomorrow and on Wednesday by booking a limited number of tickets for £15 each at .

The Junior Chef of Wales winner will have a chance of a lifetime to attend the Worldchefs Congress 2024 in Singapore with CAW delegates. The winner will also qualify for the semi-finals of the Young National Chef of the Year contest, organised by the Craft Guild of Chefs and receive support from the Junior Culinary Team Wales, a set of engraved knives from Friedr Dick and products worth £100 from Churchill.

The finalists will cook their own creative menu for a three-course dinner for four people within three hours, again using mostly Welsh ingredients. Their starter must be a seafood/fish appetiser, main course must use one prime cut and one secondary cut of PGI Welsh Beef and dessert must be seasonal, feature one hot element and include chocolate.

The Welsh Butcher of the Year final is being held tomorrow with four butchers in action. Seeking to be a cut above the rest and top of the chops are Mark Wolsey of Prendergast Butchers, Haverfordwest, Cori Mears of Douglas Willis, Cwmbran, Adam Jones of Swans Farm Shop, Treuddyn, near Mold and Marinov Elenko of 2 Sisters Food Group, Sandycroft.

Sponsored by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) and Cambrian Training Company, the contest sets the finalists two tasks to showcase their skills to judges from the Craft Butchery Team Wales.

They will have 55 minutes to seam a leg and chump of pork into individual muscles and another hour to turn the meat into a visually exciting display of products that celebrates a special occasion of the butcher’s own choice.

Apart from the kudos of being named Wales’ best butcher, the winner will receive £100, the runner up £60 and third place £40.

The WICC’s main sponsor is Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Government’s department representing the food and drink industry. Other sponsors include Castel Howell, Churchill, Major International, Riso Gallo, Dick Knives, MCS Tech Products, Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.

Other competitions include the Major Main Course Challenge and the Riso Gallo Young Risotto Chef of UK and Ireland finals, which are being held tomorrow.

Arwyn Watkins, OBE, CAW president, said: “All the competitions are full and everything is set for three days of exciting competitions when chefs, front of house staff and butchers are able to showcase their skills at Wales’ premier culinary and butchery event.

“We are delighted with the high calibre of entries and can’t wait to see all the competitors in action.”