The winner of the third Wing Yip ‘Young Chef of the Year 2015’ was announced after 15 finalists battled it out ‘Masterchef’ style.
Gemma Field from Selly Oak won the coveted title in the Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year competition, which was launched to find an up-and-coming chef who has a real flair for Pan Asian flavours.
It is the third year that Wing Yip, the UK’s leading Oriental grocer, has organised the contest, with the finals held at the University College Birmingham.
Putting the contestants through their paces were Peter Griffiths, head judge and President of the British Culinary Federation, Michelin-starred chef Glynn Purnell and Larkin Cen, 2013 MasterChef finalist and director of Asian food innovation Hokkei.
Gemma won an exclusive trip to Hong Kong where she will sample culinary delights, work in Michelin-starred restaurants and explore the vibrant street food scene.
The competition was open to applicants, aged between 18 and 25 years, who are studying or employed in the catering and hospitality industry. The first stage required them to design an Oriental-inspired menu using ingredients of their choice.
Gemma was chosen after a challenging 105 minute ‘cook-off’ during the day, which saw the 15 finalists, across two heats, prepare an authentic two course meal comprising a starter and main course.
Chairman of judges and President of British Culinary Federation, Peter Griffiths said: “This competition has shown great diversity and is different to other competitions on the circuit. The calibre of the entries has been very high, so selecting our winner was difficult. We have been very impressed by the talent and skills of these budding professionals. This makes Gemma’s award even more impressive and she should be very proud of her achievement.”
Gemma, a chef with the NEC Group, impressed the judges with her dishes – a lobster combination and chicken crown poached in jasmine tea.
After the announcement Gemma said: “I am really happy but I still can’t quite believe I won. I was really pleased with the food I served up – I thought I had done myself proud – but seeing the other finalists’ dishes, I had no idea how mine tasted against theirs.
“I was so excited to be named as the winner, at first all I could think about was the trophy. For a moment I forgot all about the prize of the trip to Hong Kong. That is going to be amazing.”
Lewis O’Carroll, from The Moat House, Acton Trussell, and Miranda Lucien-Johnson, from Restaurant Adam Handling at Caxton, were both awarded runner-up prizes for their inspiring dishes.
Mr Wing Yip, Chairman of Wing Yip, said: “The increasing popularity of Pan Asian cuisine in the UK is extremely exciting. We launched this competition in recognition of that growing interest and to identify young talent and encourage them to carry the tradition forward and preserve the legacy of this glorious cuisine.”
Wing Yip is the UK’s leading Oriental grocer, with stores in Birmingham, Manchester, Cricklewood and Croydon, stocking over 4,500 pan-Asian products.