Two outstanding West London College Hospitality & Catering students are heading off to Grimsby next month to take part in the National Seafood finals. Now in its 25th year, the National Seafood Chef of the Year Competition is run in association with The Grimsby Institute. The competition is open to all full-time and college-based modern apprentice chefs.
Highly regarded across the seafood industry for the valuable experience it gives to contestants, the competition provides young chefs with a platform to demonstrate their flair, understanding, skill and ability to use seafood from sustainable sources.
Teams of two are tasked with creating a three-course menu using specially selected seafood species. Representing West London College are Sharnah Harper and Jahmi Freeman-Wright, who are both studying Professional Cookery Level 2.
Regional heats have already taken place across the UK for the young hopefuls to get this far. In the first heat, Jahmi and Sharnah competed in a paper-based exercise where they wrote out sample menus for the competition, justifying their choice of fish and menu selection – and costing out each recipe. The pair passed with flying colours and earlier this month the young chefs headed off to City College Norwich to prepare the dishes they had selected in round 2 of this exacting competition.
The recipes Jahmi and Sharnah selected, prepared and cooked in Norwich were Curried Arnold Bennett as their starter, Sole Duglere as their intermediate dish and Pan Fried Hake with Spicy Steamed Mussels as their main course.
In Grimsby, they will once again cook the Curried Arnold Bennett and Hake with Mussels, but will be notified at their briefing of the fish and other ingredients to create their intermediate dish at just 7pm the night before they are due to cook it!
Nine teams will compete at the final. Perks for the contestants include an overnight stay in a hotel and attendance at a gala dinner. Top seafood chefs Mark Hix, Nathan Outlaw, Mitch Tonks, Ben Bartlett and Rick Stein will judge the competition based on skills, taste and presentation.
Jahmi and Sharnah couldn’t be more excited to complete the journey they began in March this year. Asked as to how they will work as a team, Sharnah said: “We practised the recipes before we went to Norwich to see which one of us was best at what. We both cooked everything separately to see who was most skilled at prepping, cooking and presenting.”
Jahmi said: “I was better at filleting the hake and Sharnah was better at filleting the Dover sole. Sharnah’s fish stock was better than mine for the Dover Sole too, so she cooked that dish and I cooked the other two.”
Their teacher, Chef Bob Carruthers, said: “It’s really important for students to enter competitions. It improves their confidence and their skills and overall it raises standards in our industry.”
Denise Charles, Head of Catering said: “It has taken us 4 years to get to the National Seafood finals at Grimsby. We are so proud of this year’s team, they really have pulled out all the stops in practising the three dishes, including working with chefs from one of the Red Carnation Hotel Group.”