Sheffield’s aspirations as a food destination are in safe hands – thanks to a group of dedicated chef mentors.
Promising apprentice cooks are gearing up to become the big names of tomorrow with the support of a citywide network of professional tutors and guides.
And this week they showed what we can expect in years to come as six of the best lined up to compete for the title of Apprentice Chef of the Year.
The event, at Sheffield City College, was organised by tutors Fiona Dawson and Mary Longden, who support the apprentices currently studying under the college for professional qualifications.
They each put forward their three best apprentices and on Monday – accompanied by their mentors – the young chefs went head-to-head for the title.
Each team had 4½ hours to prepare, cook and serve an identical four-course menu for four people.
It included minestrone soup, fillets of plaice meunière, roast chicken with all the trimmings and sticky toffee pudding.
Judges – including senior chef lecturer Mick Burke and Sheffield Telegraph food writer Lesley Draper – then had the job of deciding between them.
Contenders were Reece Elliott, an apprentice at Eten in Sheffield city centre; William Bates of Inox Dine; Abbie Grimes of Smith & Baker; Megan Caley of the Rutland Hotel and Wesley Hindle of Van Dyke at Clowne.
But the eventual winner was Luke Spencer, 20, of Rowley’s in Baslow, who worked with his mentor, acclaimed chef Max Fischer.
He received a trophy and prizes including a chef’s knife, book and vouchers.
Fiona Dawson said: “I’m really pleased with the way the competition has gone – it’s good to see what the apprentices can do when they’re not in their usual busy work environment.”
The event is now set to become an annual fixture.