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26 Feb 2024

Salon Culinaire 2024: Top tips for competitor success from this year's judges

Salon Culinaire 2024: Top tips for competitor success from this year's judges

Historic chef competition International Salon Culinaire returns to ExCeL London alongside HRC on 25-27 March. HRC caught up with some of this year's judges to find out how competitors can best succeed on the day of the their competition. 

Martyn Lee, Manager of Food innovation, Executive Chef at Waitrose & Partners

Martyn Lee

"Understand the brief fully, and always have the end user in mind - practice using the named ingredients and think why we might have included them in the brief in the first place. Understand food trends and apply those to the menu to add context and interest.

"I'll be looking for a beautifully presented selection of dishes with the customer firmly in mind. With great taste and execution of cooking, from a well organised team that have considered the full brief, spectrum of ingredients and ease and enjoyment for the target audience."

Nick Smith, Head Chef, Hospitality at Lloyds

Nick Smith

"Preparing for a competition is always nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. You will go over in your head have I done enough. Firstly it's a huge achievement in itself to put yourself on that platform, so be hugely proud of yourself for doing that. Give yourself enough time to practice and prepare. Be as disciplined as you can, but most importantly enjoy the moment of getting your entry to that final moment.

"Spend time organising a list of things you will need to take to the show and make sure you have support for the day. This could be a friend, relative or work colleague that can help make it that little bit easier, encourage you and help enjoy the day. Lastly and very importantly make sure you have read the class you are entering, and have met the brief that has been asked.

"For me as a judge I would be looking at clean, concise and well rounded skills on show. The individuals creativity and signature to that entry. Execution of there of the elements involved and how they have achieved that. Colours, textures, size, taste and balance, how well have they fitted that to the brief. How organised they work, cleaning as they go and composed during the competition."

Yolande Stanley MBE, Lecturer/Trainer in Chocolate, Patisserie and Confectionery, The Pastry Training Company

Yolande Stanley

"Innovation always sets people apart as long as it stays within the criteria of the class, also fluency in their workmanship, ability and ethos. Respectful use of ingredients and equipment, strongly underpinned with good hygiene and safety."

Adam Peirson MBE, Executive Sous Chef, The Dorchester

Adam Peirson

"Read the brief well and once coming up with your dish try and practice in an unfamiliar kitchen and get feedback from senior chefs. A careful list of ingredients, equipment and time plan is essential. Keep calm and believe in your ability as a cook!

"I'll be looking for smart well presented chefs that work cleanly with method and purpose. Showing cooking techniques that grow flavour and create textures, a balanced dish with good seasoning, neatly presented and at the correct temperature."

Diane Camp, Executive Development Chef, Sodexo

Diane Camp

"Take the time to practise, the more you practise the more confidence you will have, and always have a step by step timesheet to work with on the day. When you do these competitions you are going into an environment  that you are unfamiliar with, so if you have a mise-en-plus list and a time sheet you can keep referring too, that can provide some calm, in the craziness of the day! 

"I'll be looking for hot plates, if you are serving hot food and ALWAYS check the seasoning of your dishes!"

To register for your complimentary trade tickets to HRC and International Salon Culinaire, click here, 

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