From succulent Exmoor beef to home-grown loganberries, some of the area’s finest produce was showcased in the final of the Exmoor Young Chef competition, which took place last weekend on Saturday 2nd July at West Somerset College.
Over the past month, seven talented young finalists aged 15-16 years, have been mentored by professional Exmoor chefs to help them devise their menu and improve their cookery skills.
In Saturday’s final, which was filmed, the seven young cooks were observed and judged by two top industry professionals: Miguel Tenreiro, General Manager and Head Chef at Porlock Weir Hotel, and Max Lawrence from Visit Exmoor and the Institute of Hospitality.
The winning spot was awarded to finalist Perran Clark from Braunton and Nathan Reardon from Cullompton was a close runner-up.
“Perran’s dish of chicken supreme, fondant potato and tarragon sauce showcasing Beech Ridge chicken particularly impressed me” said judge Miguel Tenreiro, “and Jessica’s cured mackerel from the North Devon coast was perfectly presented and tasted amazing too”.
Max Lawrence added: “The finalists’ excitement and passion for cooking has been really evident throughout this competition and the presentation of the meals has been of an incredibly professional standard. The career opportunities for young people within the hospitality industry are vast and with the right commitment, skills and training, young chefs can advance quickly in this rewarding face-paced sector.
“The quality of Exmoor’s local produce and the vibrant food scene are of paramount importance to visitors to the National Park and our many award-winning restaurants and hotels are testament to the many high-quality dining experiences available here.”
All the finalists received a local Exmoor produce hamper and the winner and runner up were each awarded an engraved salver from the Rotary Club of Minehead.
Winner Perran Clark will be assisting top chefs with the cooking on the Chef’s Stage at the North Devon FOODfest on 11th September and Nathan Reardon was chosen to appear in a YouTube cooking video with Chef Chin from Chin and Choo (Ziangs at Porlock), who teach oriental street food cooking to their 138K followers.
Finalist Jessica Evans from Barnstaple was awarded a work experience day in the Michelin starred Masons Arms at Knowstone, and Tom Evans from Milverton will be experiencing the extensive kitchens at Butlins, Minehead.
Finalists Logan Schofield, Mika Harnett and Eli Hindon also received specialist chef tools kindly donated by H2 Catering at Bridgwater.
Katrina Munro from Exmoor National Park Authority organised the competition with help from Butlin’s Group Development Chef Werner Hartholt and chef Mollie Foster from Minehead Rotary Club.
Werner, said: “The finalists all showed incredible skill and the time spent practising at home and with their mentor chefs has really paid off. We’re very grateful to the local chefs who have helped mentor the students to reach this level. There are exciting training and upskilling opportunities available locally for young people, this a great career for those who have a passion for food and great service.”
The competition is part of a larger project with Visit Exmoor and many partners to develop the Exmoor and Coast Centre of Excellence for Hospitality. Emma Thomasson of Visit Exmoor, said: “We are grateful to the support of all partners and funding from Somerset County Council, West Somerset Opportunity Area, SomersetWorks, North Devon Council and Minehead Rotary. This project will help us connect young people with employers as well as training opportunities and support from our partner organisations.”
Exmoor Young Chef Competition 2022
Winner: Perran Clark from Braunton
Runner-Up: Nathan Reardon from Cullompton
· Logan Schofield from Wiveliscombe
· Mikaella Harnett from Somerton
· Jessica Evans from Barnstaple
· Tom Evans from Milverton
· Eli Hindon from Chipstable