Paul Foster, James Golding: ‘When I was cooking some of the judges were so old school and dismissive. They wouldn’t ever appreciate anything new.'

The  Staff Canteen

In the most recent episode of the nightcap podcast host Paul Foster, chef-owner of one Michelin-starred Salt, was joined by group chef director at the pig hotels, James Golding, and one of the topics they discussed was culinary competitions.

Both chefs talked about how much they enjoyed the experience of judging. However, Paul did say: “It depends on if you like that kind of thing. I mean, I love that sort of thing. You do a lot of pieces to camera. There’s a lot of filming involved a lot of asking your opinion which I really love.”

James added: “It’s great when you see young chefs do something really well and just how they buzz from it.”

Great Taste Awards:

Paul discussed his time judging for the Great Taste Awards, where, because he is so busy, he only has time to judge the final round. Because of that, it makes the judging experience really interesting, as the food they are trying has already passed a number of previous rounds of judging.

He said: “It’s one of those things, where, by the time it gets to me, it’s gone through so many different pallets. It’s gone from zero to one star, one star to two-star, two-star to three-star, three-star to us, and bearing in mind there’s so many different people that have tried that product over and over and over again before it gets to us you have to realise that it’s obviously great because it wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t, but at the same time, it’s a matter of opinion. Some products split the room.”

Paul specifically mentioned one memorable moment when he was judging an anchovy dish, and it did just that, splitting the room. With him, Dhruv Baker, José Pizarro, and Xanthe Clay liking the dish and the other judges being unsure or disliking it. So, it is clear that even at the height of culinary judging it still comes down to personal taste and every chef will have different opinions and preferences.

Getting the younger generation Involved:

Speaking on the Great Taste Awards, Paul said: “They are trying to get more young people involved because it’s becoming a slightly older pallet.

“It's Tortie and Jay Farrand that run the awards and I was chatting to them when we were in Spain, and they are looking at getting more young people involved.”

James agreed with the need for younger people involved in judging. Recalling his time competing in competitions, he said: “I remember when I was cooking some of the judges were so old school and dismissive. They wouldn’t ever appreciate anything new that you were trying to do, not wacky but things moving on. It was just this stubbornness.

“I always vowed, if I was ever a judge, that I would have more of an open mind and just try and appreciate what they were trying to do as long as it was technically well done, executed, seasoned.”

Along with that James, discussed his enjoyment of judging young chef competitions. He said: “I really like the young chef ones because they get a lot more out of it.

“I really encourage any young chef to try and do it because it’s so good for your confidence and networking. It’s not about winning it, it’s about going in there and yeah we’re all competitive and we want to win but you learn so much from it and you get so much from it and you meet guys you wouldn’t necessarily bump into and getting the feedback.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th June 2022

Paul Foster, James Golding: ‘When I was cooking some of the judges were so old school and dismissive. They wouldn’t ever appreciate anything new.'