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Professional Cookery Student Wins Foie Royale Cooking Competition

Professional Cookery Level 3 student, Laurie Ballard won the Foie Royale cooking competition on Tuesday 23 May 2023. Four students took part in the competition, which is staged by Foie Royale at colleges and universities throughout London offering hospitality and catering courses. Each of the student chefs entered the competition eager to experiment with new ingredients and try out different techniques.

Laurie receiving his certificate and prize from Laith Amiry
Laurie with his certificate and prize from Laith Amiry

Laurie said: “I was happy but surprised to win, the other dishes all looked very professional!”

Two of Laurie’s Professional Cookery Level 3 classmates also competed; Ratmir Plokhov, who like Laurie is an apprentice chef at the RAF Club and Jahmi Freeman-Wright who is a commis chef at Carnation Hotels in Mayfair. Emma Bishop was the fourth student chef who as a Professional Cookery Level 1 student showed she was definitely prepared to get out of her comfort zone and compete with the best.

The competition was set up to provide an opportunity for food and culinary students to create dishes, using an ethical alternative to foie gras.

Blanca Ho from Foie Royale said: “The competition introduces Foie Royale which is an ethical and sustainable alternative to Foie Gras to the chefs of the future. It also provides an opportunity for students to showcase their culinary skills and gain invaluable experience in competition.”

Foie Royale is an ethically produced product from duck or goose liver to replace foie gras. Traditionally, to create foie gras, ducks and geese are held often in intense captivity and force-fed to enlarge their livers, sometimes up to ten times their normal size. To avoid force-feeding the birds, Foie Royale is created using modern food technology by merging the naturally healthy liver and fat harvested from birds raised for their meat. The result is a product that has the same flavour as foie gras, but without engorging the birds’ livers. Foie Royale is almost identical in taste, texture, structure, colour and melting behaviour to foie gras.

Laith Amiry from Foie Royale and Denise Charles, Head of Service Industries at West London College, judged the competition. They awarded marks for originality and creativity, presentation and appeal, dish inspiration, how Foie Royale was best used in the dish, flavour profiles and execution.

Laith told the student chefs: “It was very hard to pick an overall winner as the standard was so high. There were only three points between first and fourth place.” Denise added: “We always encourage students to take part in competitions. They get to try a lot of different foods and styles, and the experience is excellent for their personal and professional development.”

Jahmi, Emma, Ratmir and Laurie
Jahmi, Emma, Ratmir and Laurie

The participants and their dishes were

  • Grand winner – Duck Foie Royale Mousse with a fig gel, pickled pear and homemade brioche by Laurie Ballard
  • 1st runner up – Pan-seared Foie Royale accompanied by green lentils, a crisp potato arc and a herb vinaigrette by Ratmir Plokhov
  • 2nd runner up – Duck Foie Royale and Orange salad with roasted walnuts, golden raisin puree and micro herbs by Jahmi Freeman-Wright
  • Finalist – Tagliatelle in a pesto sauce with a pan-seared Foie Royale, garnished with cheese tuiles by Emma Bishop
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