Jack hits the heights in Young Chef of the Year final

November 2015

Picture caption: UCB’s Jack Gameson (right) celebrates his third-place award with winner Jonathan Ferguson (centre) and Leonidas Kattou, who came second

A UCB student is celebrating a top three finish in the prestigious British Culinary Federation Young Chef of the Year 2015 competition.

Jack Gameson, 20, the only student in the final, pitted his skills against professional chefs, including four working at Michelin star restaurants, in the final at UCB.

It was a frenetic day for Jack who took part in the morning heat of the contest before joining fellow members of the Junior English National Culinary team to cook dinner for the awards ceremony. It was only once the food was served that Jack discovered he had scooped third place.

The 16 finalists had two hours to cook an inventive and delicious three-course meal. The starter had to include fish or shellfish and the main course had to feature pork. Chefs were given a free choice for their desserts.

James, who first joined UCB’s junior chefs’ academy as a 14-year-old, devised a stunning menu comprising:

  • Starter – baked cod with a parsley and Parmesan crust, petit pois à la Francaise purée, crispy chorizo and wild mushrooms, truffle oil and pea shoots
  • Main – caramelised pork fillet, pork fritter, cauliflower purée, braised root vegetables, wilted greens, thyme and cider jus lié
  • Dessert – chocolate fondant, passion fruit and lemon posset, poppy seed caramel wafer

First prize went to Jonathan Ferguson, a commis chef at the two Michelin star Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles. Leonidas Kattou, of the one-star Simpsons, Birmingham, came second.

Peter Griffiths, president of the British Culinary Federation (BCF), told guests the standard of cooking was higher than ever. He paid tribute to the UCB-based Junior Team England for cooking the awards dinner – and thanked all the front-of-house students for providing a polished service and a warm welcome.

"It has been a pleasure to mentor Jack over the past two years in competitions. Jack is the only college student in the country to make the final of Young Chef of the Year 2015 and this shows his skills and talent for cooking under pressure. UCB is very proud of our students competing at this level, which highlights the level of teaching that staff provide to educate these amazing young chefs to achieve their dreams."

Chef lecturer Mat Shropshall

Chef Shropshall is the team manager and hot kitchen coach for Junior Team England. Rob Kennedy, executive chef of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst is the cold kitchen coach.

The young chefs will represent the nation at the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, in October 2016.

In addition to Jack, the team members are: Edward Marsh (Lucknam Park Hotel); Craig Bateman (Sandhurst); and UCB professional cookery students Thomas Kirkby, Elliot Lawn and Nathan Lane.

Guest at the BCF awards dinner were given a taste of the team’s menu with a delicious three-course meal comprising:

  • Starter – pan-fried halibut supreme, crispy bacon bon bon, pickled onion, radish and cucumber, romanesco purée, seaweed crumbs, dill velouté
  • Main – seared black pepper venison loin, venison pomme Anna, fennel and ginger purée, wilted greens, veal sweetbread fritter, sautéed wild mushrooms, port and rosemary jus lié
  • Dessert – Valrhona dark chocolate and passion fruit mousse, chocolate jelly, passion fruit sorbet, chocolate soil, orange gel