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03 Feb 2023

Salon Culinaire's Pub Chef of the Year 2022 on his award-winning dish

Salon Culinaire's Pub Chef of the Year 2022 on his award-winning dish

HRC catches up with Sam Seedhouse, Head Chef at The Bird in Hand in Knowl Hill and winner of the 2022 Pub Chef of the Year category at International Salon Culinaire. A new category for last year's event, Pub Chef of the Year was launched to recognise the talented chefs producing fantastic food in the pub & bar sector. 

Hi Sam, how did you hear about Salon’s Pub Chef of the Year category and decide to enter?

Being part of Butcombe brewery, they're always looking for ways to get it's name out there. The new category really hit the brief of our business well and suited my cooking style. The Head of Food suggested I enter and I thought it sounded like good fun.

How did you prepare for the event?

I never had made a sausage before the event but always wanted too, so it was a great excuse to buy a mincer. The weeks leading up to it was spent mucking around with the ratios of the mix and practising the rather inelegant process of making them. 

Can you tell us a bit about your Best-in-Class dish?

I opted for a 'bangers and mash' dish, as in my opinion you don't see a well executed version of them in pubs anymore. Often just an afterthought for kids. I started with the Essential Cuisine element, being the gravy and wanted to use pancetta to enhance it. The banger itself is a very traditional recipe and without the use of rusk which was a unique element to mention in the paperwork to go alongside it. The mash is a recipe which requires a lot of work, passing it through a fine sieve and used 20% butter for the richness I'm after. Overall it's a somewhat elegant take on a pub classic with lots of thought going into every element. 

Sam seedhouse

What was the experience like cooking at the competition?

You definitely feel the pressure cooking, I recommend a familiar face in the crowd to show support. I enjoy time pressure and giving yourself high standards to hit. It's great speaking to like minded chefs before and after and sharing your experience.

What happened after the competition? Has the dish made it to your menu?

After the competition the Bangers made its way onto the menu, where it stays today! It's become our best selling dish, I'm not entirely sure my Sous Chef enjoys cooking it anymore...

What would you say to anyone considering entering the Pub Chef of the Year competition?

Think long and hard about the dish itself, make sure you hit the brief very well and thing about the details after. Give yourself 5 minutes spare to plate as the judges pick up on the smallest details.

Interested to learn more? Visit the International Salon Culinaire website to learn more about all the competition categories at this year's event. 


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