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Welsh chefs cook against Europe’s best as hunt begins for their successors

October 2, 2017

Two champion Welsh chefs are preparing to represent their country against the best in Europe at the weekend as the search begins to find their successors.

National Chef of Wales winner Simon Crockford, 35, executive restaurant chef at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, will be competing in the European semi-final of the Global Chefs Challenge organised by World Chefs in Prague on October 7.

At the same event, Junior Chef of Wales champion Steffan Davies, 23, from Gidleigh Park near Newton Abbot, Devon, will be competing in the Global Young Chefs Challenge semi-final against the best young chefs in Europe. 

Both chefs, who are members of Culinary Team Wales, need to win their competitions to qualify for the global finals next year. They are being mentored by Colin Gray, Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) vice president from Capital Cuisine, Caerphilly.

Simon, who lives in Newport but is originally from Tenby, has been promoted to executive restaurant chef since becoming Welsh champion and is looking forward to competing in Prague.

He has chosen a three-course menu with elements of the dishes that made him Welsh champion. The starter features seared scallops and seabass, main course majors on veal and foie gras and the dessert has chocolate, banana and passion fruit as its made ingredients.

Simon will be accompanied by Darryl Davies, a demi chef de partie at the Celtic Manor Resort who has worked with him on VIP events, including the Ryder Cup.

“It’s quite a different competition to what I have done previously because the commis chef can help in this one,” he said. “I have gone for taste above everything else with my dishes and I want to Wales and myself proud.

“It will be an unbelievable experience, but I don’t think it will be as nerve-wracking as my debut for the Welsh team at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg, which was an unforgettable experience.

“I have to prepare six plates of each dish within three hours, so it’s a real challenge. If I nail the dishes on the day, I am confident about the taste.”

Steffan, who is originally from Llandybie in West Wales, has excelled with the Junior Culinary Team Wales. He is aiming to become European champion to qualify for the world final in Lyon next year.

He has chosen a complex menu for the competition, which opens with yuzu cured seabass, poached oysters, scallop, fresh wasabi and yuzu sorbet. Main course is stuffed veal loin, poached foie gras and black pudding. Dessert is a deconstructed Jaffa cake comprising palenta cake, buckthorn gel, mandarin gel and sorbet and chocolate glass.

“We looked at what was coming into season and wanted to do something with a twist, which explains the deconstructed Jaffa cake idea,” said Steffan, whose commis chef will be Toby Hull from Gidleigh Park. “The taste is ridiculously amazing.

“Competing in Prague against the best young chefs in Europe should be a real eye opener and I can’t wait to see how each country interprets the menu brief.”

Looking ahead to his career development, he plans to work in selected countries around the world to learn about the different cultures before settling down to senior position in the UK.

His ultimate aim is to return to work in Wales where he says the improved standard of restaurants is now being recognised with awards

As Simon and Steffan prepare to compete in Prague, the CAW has launched the hunt for their successors as the next National and Junior Chef of Wales.

Chefs wishing to follow in their footsteps have until October 31 to enter both competitions, the finals of which will be held at the Welsh International Culinary Championships at Gr?p Llandrillo Menai, Rhos-on-Sea next February.

The entry forms may be downloaded at: http://www.welshculinaryassociation.com/index.php/competitions/

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Simon Crockford (right) and Steffan Davies.

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Simon Crockford.

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Steffan Davies.

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