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31 Oct 2023

Showcase your creative talents in Salon Display at International Salon Culinaire

Showcase your creative talents in Salon Display at International Salon Culinaire

HRC, Hotel, Restaurant & Catering meets two esteemed chefs and Salon Culinaire judges to learn more about the Salon Display competition and why chefs should enter this year. 

Participating in the Salon Display competition offers chefs a unique and invaluable opportunity to showcase their culinary prowess in a visually stunning manner. This competition transcends the mere act of cooking; it is a canvas for chefs to express their creativity and artistic flair through food presentation.

By entering, chefs have the chance to push the boundaries of culinary aesthetics, turning each plate into a masterpiece that not only tantalises the taste buds but, vitally, also captivates the eyes.

Taking part in this event can significantly elevate a chef's reputation, opening doors to new opportunities, collaborations, and recognition within the culinary world. Salon Display serves as a platform for chefs to leave an indelible mark on the industry, solidifying their status as true culinary artists.

Mark Hill MBE, Executive Chef at House of Commons and Chair of Judges for International Salon Culinaire, and Nick Smith judge and Head Chef at Lloyds of London, discuss some of their earliest memories of Salon Display and why it's as important now as it ever was. 

What is your earliest memory of the Salon Display competition?

Nick: My earliest memory was the hospitality show at the NEC in Birmingham 2009. I was competing in the Live Theatre at the time. Being in inspired by the display pieces there, I decided to enter in 2010 at Hotelympia (the former name of HRC) the following year in the novelty class.

Mark: I’ve been attending the Salon Displays from a very early age. My dad was a leading competition chef back then and competed at all the Salons up and down the country including Hotelympia and the world culinary Olympics. As a teenager I was very interested in cooking and wanted to pursue this as a career once I left school.

My first major competition was in Birmingham in 1984 where  I received a certificate of merit for my lamb dish.  I remember Peter Griffiths (Salon Director) at the time pulling me aside and saying to me “you need a frame for that certificate chef,” and handing me a frame. I was chuffed to bits and felt that the Salon was not just a competitive arena to showcase your talents but a nice one as well!

Why is the display an important part of International Salon Culinaire? 

Nick: Every area is so important at these shows, but for the Salon Display it's keeping those skills alive, keeping the momentum. Inspiring those to achieve incredible things, seeing people smile and enjoy these incredible works of art.

Mark: The display is important as it showcases an array of skills to other chefs and the public. The display is real food “under aspic” just to stop it spoiling and drying out while its on show. It's therefore crucial that food is cooked and presented as it's intended to be eaten in a restaurant.

It also gives young chefs especially the chance to see food presented to the very highest standards to aim to produce themselves or further compete and introduce new ideas. Its also a great platform for culinary skills to develop and be taken back to the workplace as well as a venue to trial for world competition as your judged against a similar criteria.

Why should chefs compete in Salon Display?

Nick: If you're deeply passionate about your craft and want to develop, hone and test your abilities, Salon Display is a great journey to do this. You're challenging yourself by entering this amazing arena of skill to grow as a chef in this incredible sector.

Mark: Not only is it a great networking arena for chefs ,it’s a platform for others to see your expertise on show and the skills that you have and can pass on to others. It can also open future career opportunities as well as self-gratification on competing with the best in the country if not the world!

As a judge, do you have any hints on what you're looking for, and what goes into creating a best-in-class plate? 

Nick: Creative, clean and showing your individual style. Not overcomplicated, good combination of flavours and techniques on show.

Mark: Keep it real, Salon Display food is real food displayed in an artistic way. Don’t deviate or mess around too much precise cooking, vegetable preparation and glazing is the key. Also a good menu with foods that balance well together and an attractive presentation will always bring good marks.

Find out more about Salon Display and the more than 100 competitions that form part of International Salon Culinaire, taking place on 25-27 March 2024 alongside HRC, at

Entries for International Salon Culinaire open on 6 November. If you have any questions about entering any of the competitions, including Salon Display, please contact Salon Director Andrew Pantelli at 

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