Welsh chefs excel to strike gold in Sharjah competition

A team of six talented young chefs has struck gold for Wales at a prestigious international culinary competition in the United Arab Emirates.

Representing the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW), the team finished third overall against eight other countries in the Alen Thong Golden Coffee Pot Young Chef Challenge at The International Emirates Salon Culinaire, during Expoculinaire 2024 Sharjah.

Three gold medals were awarded, with Wales being edged out by winners China and runners up Hong Kong.

Proudly flying the flag for Wales were captain Calum Smith, 23, and Jordan Howorth, 25, sous chefs at Shrewsbury School, Shrewsbury, sous chef Harry Paynter-Roberts, 26 and head chef Sion Hughes, 26, from Carden Park Hotel and Spa, near Chester, Dylan Evans, 21, commis chef at L’Enclume, Cartmel and Connor Smith,19, commis chef at the Lion and Pheasant, Shrewsbury.

Dylan, Jordan and Connor, who is Calum’s younger brother, all made their international debut in the competition which aims to become the most notable gastronomic contest anywhere in the Middle East for young chefs under the age of 28 years.

Three teams competed daily, creating an internationally themed edible cold salad, appetiser, dessert buffet and hot main course for 20 diners. Teams could cook a main course of their choice and Wales chose chicken.

Each team made a gateau, three modern desserts and a hot dessert, which was prepared with diners and judges watching.

Nine Worldchefs judges, including CAW vice president Colin Gray, managing director of Capital Cuisine, Caerphilly, judged the competition.

Colin, who helped to coach and advise the Wales team before the competition, said: “I am really proud of these young chefs who stepped up to the mark and did a great job. The judges were very complimentary about how they worked together in a clean and hygienic way to get jobs done.

“All the chefs did well but captain Calum deserves special mention for taking the reins in the absence of a team manager and doing the hard work.”

CAW president Arwyn Watkins, OBE, added: “When you consider this is a young Welsh team with three debutants, competing in a competition for chefs aged under 28, to win a gold is a fantastic achievement.

“Calum, as team captain, has done a tremendous job and has become a commanding leader.”

The last time Welsh chefs competed in this competition as a senior team in 2013, they came away with a gold medal.

Calum has previously captained the Junior Culinary Team Wales, which included Harry and Sion, to silver and bronze medals at the Culinary World Cup in 2022. Sion will have Calum as his commis when they compete in the Global Chefs Challenge final in Singapore in October.

It’s the second time that Wales has secured gold medals in the Sharjah competition, following the success of a senior team in 2013.

CAW sponsors are the Food and Drink Wales, Castell Howell, Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales, ICC Wales, Cambrian Training Company, Celtic Manor Resort, Radnor Hills, Dick Knifes, Cygnet Gin, Capital Cuisine, MCS Technical Products, City & Guilds, Compass Cymru, Kentaur, Roller Grill, Ecolab and Major.


Picture caption:

The Welsh team competing in Sharjah (from left) Harry Paynter-Roberts, Sion Hughes, Jordan Howorth, Calum Smith, Dylan Evans and Connor Smith.


The Welsh team in Sharjah (from left) Harry Paynter-Roberts, Sion Hughes, Jordan Howorth, Calum Smith, Dylan Evans and Connor Smith with Culinary Association of Wales vice president Colin Gray.