Association News

Welsh chefs take on Belgium and Austria in Battle for the Dragon

February 14, 2019

A team of talented chefs from the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport will be representing Wales in the annual Battle for the Dragon contest at the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC) later this month.

Michael Bates, executive chef of the Celtic Manor Resort Collection, will lead a team comprising Simon Crockford, Gavin McDonagh, Vangelis Tzortzis, Adam Whittle and Justin Llywelyn when they take on Belgium and Austria at Gr?p Llandrillo Menai, Rhos-on-Sea from February 26-28. 

Wales is first into the kitchen on February 26, followed by Belgium on February 27 and Austria on February 28. They will each cook a three-course menu for 70 people under the supervision of a panel of international chef judges.

The Welsh chefs have sprung a surprise by cooking Muntjac venison as the main course to give the judges and diners a new taste experience.

The menu opens with a starter of scorched and tartar of mackerel followed by roasted Muntjac venison saddle, yeasted cauliflower, grilled onion, leek, salt baked swede, Pedro Ximenez prune, sprout leaves, venison leg ragu, potato espuma and thyme crisp. Dessert is dark chocolate mousse with praline biscuit base, textures of orange, basil sorbet and sticky ginger sponge.

“Hopefully, with the Muntjac venison, the judges and diners will be trying something that they possibly wouldn’t normally have the chance to eat,” said Bates. “It may be considered a bold move, but it’s an under-used species that you don’t often see on the menu and we want to showcase it as a good quality meat.

“I think it tastes very much like rosé veal and we are utilising the loin and haunch. It’s something different that I think has the wow factor.”

Looking forward to representing Wales in the competition, he said he was focused only on his team’s performance rather than rivals Austria and Belgium.

“We believe in our dishes and it’s all about packing a punch on the day,” he added. “We are very proud to represent Wales in everything we do and the main task is to keep everbody focused and enjoy the experience. The guys are all up for the competition and we want to win.”

Belgium is sending its national junior team, which competed in the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg last November, while Austria will be represented by a regional team. The winners will receive the coveted Dragon Trophy.

The invitation to Belgium follows a fact-finding visit by a representative of the country’s national culinary team to the 2018 WICC to the Battle for the Dragon contest.

Belgium’s menu opens with turbot, shrimp, Achelse blauwe and Jerusalem artichoke followed by guinea fowl, butternut pumpkin and Brussels sprouts and a dessert o

Mango, yoghurt, raspberry and citrus sorbet.

Austria will serve up a starter of zander, lobster, citrus velouté, aubergine, wild broccoli and caviar followed bv Welsh Mountain Lamb and game, pumpkin, red cabbage, potato and salsify. Dessert is described as ‘Mozart Inspiration’: chocolate, nougat, marzipan, apricot and pistachios.

Fine dining fans can sample the dishes served up by the international chefs by booking their place at one or all three of the lunches, which cost £26 each. Tickets may be booked with Vicky Watkins at the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) on .

“This is a great opportunity for the three teams to compete to Worldchefs standards and receive feedback on their dishes from very experienced judges,” said CAW president Arwyn Watkins, OBE. “It’s also an excellent testbed for up-and-coming chefs to be considered by their national teams.

“In addition, the Battle for the Dragon contest exposes international chefs to quality Welsh food and drink products.”

The WICC are organised by the CAW and main sponsor is Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government’s department representing the food and drink industry. Other sponsors include Castell Howell, Harlech Foods, Churchill, Koppertcress, Dick Knives, Roller Grill, MCS Technical Products and Major.


The Celtic Manor Resort team that will be representing Wales in the Battle for the Dragon.


The Muntjac venison main course that the Welsh chefs will be serving up.

For more information, please contact Arwyn Watkins, Culinary Association of Wales president, on Tel: 01938 555893 or Duncan Foulkes, publicity officer, on Tel: 01686 650818.








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