Butchery skills tested at Chef of the Year Awards

Finalists at this year’s British Culinary Federation’s (BCF) Chef of the Year Awards had their butchery skills put to the test last week, in the penultimate stage of the competition.

Established by Aubrey Allen, the contest features a butchery round – part of the final – in which Bob Spring, master butcher at Aubrey Allen, joined Dick van Leeuwen, master butcher and business development manager for Eblex (co-sponsor of the competition), to assess the competitors’ knife skills.

In the initial round, competitors devised a three-course menu for two people. More than 50 entries were whittled down by around half, with the successful candidates invited to attend a live cook-off to prepare all three courses in less than two hours. Ten chefs were then chosen to compete in the final.

The finalists were presented with two lamb primals – half a short fore on the bone and a short saddle – and given one hour to produce as many cuts as possible. They were awarded marks, accounting for 10% of their total score, for knife skills, innovation and creativity, maximising primal usage and overall appeal and presentation.

Finalist Dez Turland, development chef at Saunton Sands Hotel in Devon, said: “This is the third time that I have reached the final and it’s a privilege to be a part of the competition again this year.

“Including a butchery element in the competition is something I welcome, as it’s an essential skill which many chefs coming into the industry don’t have.”

The final stage of the competition will take place on Monday 7 April 2014 at University College Birmingham, with the results to be announced at a gala evening that same day. The chefs will be required to prepare a three-course meal again, but the main course must feature one of the lamb cuts they prepared in the butchery round.

A host of top chefs will be judging the final, including: Alain Roux, Ashley Palmer Watts, Brian Turner, Simon Hulstone and Laurent Bouvier, President of Les Toques Blanches Lyonnaises, along with Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) Roger Narbett, and winner of the 2012 competition Simon Webb.

Peter Griffiths, president of the British Culinary Federation, said: “The competition, which is open to all chefs, provides a fantastic opportunity for both new and established professionals to showcase their cutting-edge creativity and be recognised for their talent and culinary skills.”

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