Two young chefs from Telford have reached the national semi-finals of a ‘hot chef’ cookery competition – and are in with a chance of having their dishes featured on pub food menus across the UK.
Liam Wassell and Dayna Nielsen, students at Telford College, are through to the last 20 of the Tabasco Hot Chef Competition, organised in partnership with The Craft Guild of Chefs.
They will be travelling to the University of London for the cook-off on November 27, where they will be battling for a place in the finals to be held at Hotelympia in March next year.
Dayna, from Donnington, and Liam, from Stirchley, are both aged 17, and studying for their level two VRQ professional chefs diploma at the King Street campus.
Liam’s menu started with smoked haddock, leek and gruyere, followed by a main course of slow cooked Shropshire short rib of beef with a four-root mash, and crispy shallot.
Dayna started with a hot and smokey chicken with bacon and red salad, and the main course was a twist on a classic lasagne. They will be repeating these menus for the semi-final.
As part of the competition rules, all the dishes have to incorporate a taste of Tabasco pepper sauces.
Sean McNulty, chef lecturer at Telford College, said: “It’s fabulous to have not one but two of our students individually making it through to this stage. It is giving them priceless experience which will help them hugely in the years to come.”
The competition, in its sixth year, challenges young chefs to create a starter and main course for a mainstream pub menu.
The winning dish will feature on Stonegate pub and restaurant menus across the UK, and the champion will also get an all-expenses paid trip to Avery Island in Louisiana, USA, where Tabasco sauce is made.
The Telford College duo will be looking to impress an experienced panel of judges, including members of the Craft Guild of Chefs, Tabasco corporate chef Gary Evans, and Stonegate Pubs’ executive chef Kevin Steppe.
Gary Evans said: “The competition allows students at the start of their careers to experiment with the versatility of our sauces; we can’t wait to see what they come up with.”
Tabasco has been produced by the McIlhenny Company for nearly 150 years, and fifth generation family member Harold Osborn said: “We are delighted to support the next generation of chef talent.
“These young chefs are the future of the culinary industry and the next generation of innovators and trend setters.”