North Wales chef ‘over the moon’ to win Junior Chef of Wales cook-off

A North Wales head chef is the new Junior Chef of Wales after winning a final cook-off against four rivals at the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC) yesterday (Thursday).

Besides claiming the prestigious title and the Dragon Trophy, Dalton Weir, 22, from Llandudno, head chef at Watson’s Bistro, Conwy, also won a chance of a lifetime trip to the Worldchefs Congress 2022 in Abu Dhabi with the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) delegation from May 30 to June 2.

He also qualified for the semi-finals of the Young National Chef of the Year contest, organised by the Craft Guild of Chefs and will receive support from the Junior Culinary Team Wales. In addition, the prize included a set of knives from Friedr Dick and £100 of products from Churchill.

“I am over the moon because it was a hard competition and I didn’t expect to win,” said Dalton, who received a silver medal. “I have wanted to do this competition for a few years and this was my last chance because of my age.

“Winning the competition means a lot because it will open doors for me in the future.”

Runner up and silver medallist was Falon Bailie, 17, from Three Cocks, apprentice chef de partie at Foyles of Glasbury, Glasbury and bronze medallists were Stephanie Belcher, 21, from Abergavenny, sous chef at Peterstone Court Hotel, Llanhamlach, Brecon, Cai Morris, 21, from Llandegfan, chef de partie at The Bull, Beaumaris and Katie Duffy, 17, an apprentice at Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli and

Dalton Weir’s starter was miso poached langoustine tart, chilli and red pepper veil, carrot and nori salad and chilled  avocado. Main course is pan-seared Welsh Beef fillet, oyster mushroom filled with Welsh Beef short rub, pomme souffle, caramelised celeriac, chive and wasabi emulsion, pickled shimeji mushroom and port wine.

Dessert was rhubarb and custard: hot aerated custard cake, Lapsang Souchong and rhubarb sorbet, vanilla poached rhubarb, white chocolate soil and tempered ruby chocolate.

Organised by the CAW, the WICC were hosted by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s campus in Rhos-on-Sea from February 22-24 and main sponsor was Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Government’s department representing the food and drink industry.

The judges were Colin Gray, managing director of Capital Cuisine, Caerphilly, Graham Tinsley, executive chef Carden Park, near Chester and Lee Corke, catering manager, Clare College, Cambridge.

Gray, CAW vice president, said: “It was a keenly contested final but Dalton’s previous competition experience just gave him the edge.

“For many of the finalists, it was their first competition and their dishes were of a good standard. It’s pleasing to see that Wales is producing so many bright, young chefs who want to compete, especially as we are always scouting for members of Junior Culinary Team Wales.”

The five chefs had three hours to prepare and cook a three course meal for four people, including mostly Welsh ingredients, a seafood starter or fish appetiser will be followed by a main course featuring one prime cut and one secondary cut of Welsh Beef and a seasonal dessert including chocolate and one hot element.

Other sponsors include Castel Howell, Churchill, Major International, Riso Gallo, Dick Knives, MCS Tech Products, Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Cambrian Training Company, Roller Grill and Ecolab.


Notes for Editors:

Falon Bailie served up a starter of Welsh hand dived scallop, cauliflower, pea, black pudding, pancetta, hazelnuts and apple. Main course was Welsh Black aged fillet of beef, hanger steam pithivier, squash puree, celeriac fondant, tender stem broccoli, wild rice, lovage emulsion, pickled carrot and beef reduction.

Dessert was dark chocolate, miso, pistachio, strawberry, sheep’s yoghurt and sorrel.

Falon said: “I didn’t have time to practice the dishes enough but everything was going well until I took the chocolate mousse out of the freezer and it wasn’t set. I enjoyed the experience and will be back but with more experience.”

Stephanie Belcher’s menu opened with crab tortellini with ginger and chilli bisque and foraged coastline plants. Main course was Welsh Black beef chuck and ale pie, Welsh Black fillet atop horseradish mash, turned Suffolk turnips, baby heritage carrots, English miniature honey roast parsnips with rich beef jus and nasturtiums.

Dessert was range pastry tart filled with chocolate and chestnut mousse, meringue, dehydrated chestnut paper, tempered dark chocolate shard and hot geranium syrup.

Stephanie said: “It was a good first experience. Considering I had never done anything like this before, I was reasonably happy with the dishes but they were not perfect and I’m a perfectionist. I will definitely be coming back.”

Cai Morris cooked a starter of torches mackerel, cured belly, compressed cucumber, rhubarb tartare and horseradish butter milk. Main course was Anglesey flat iron, cheek, onion tart tatin, beer onion, marrowbone and shallot sauce. Dessert was Whipped caramelised white chocolate, banana financier and lime granita.

He said: “It started well and was all going to plan before I had a few difficulties with my dessert because I got my timings wrong. I am definitely going to compete again.”

Katie Duffy’s menu opened with a starter of pan-seared garlic with thyme infused scallops served with a green apple, fennel and courgette salad finished with herb oil and lemon gel. Main course was pan-roasted PGI Welsh Beef fillet, ox cheek bon, mini fondant potatoes, tender stem broccoli finished with a red wine and beetroot jus and caramelised onion puree.

Dessert was chocolate souffle served with raspberry sorbet sat upon praline hazelnuts, tuille biscuit and raspberry coulis.

Katie said: “It was exhausting getting everything done but I enjoyed it and will be back to compete again. Some of my dishes went exactly as I had planned but I had to improvise with my main dish when the ox cheek burnt. I enjoyed the experience.”