Meet the finalists of the Classic Fine Foods Christmas Entremet Contest 2016: Jessica Huang, The Berkeley Hotel

The Staff Canteen

This year the five finalists of the annual Classic Fine Foods Christmas Entremet Contest 2016 were selected  via a professional rating from the judges and a webpage vote. We speak to finalist Jessica Huang from The Berkeley.

This year the participants' overall score was based on two different ratings, 60% of the total was from a rating by the professional judging panel and 40% was based on a blind vote where readers were directed to a voting page and encouraged to pick their favourite entremet based on their image alone. The five with the most votes were then chosen to go through to the final. This year participants were asked to create a Christmas Entremet for 10 people weighing no less than 1.250kg. They were also asked to use at least one Valrhona chocolate, Capfruit fruit puree and one PCB item of their choice.

Over the next five days The Staff Canteen will be finding out more about each finalist, we caught up with contestant, Jessica Huang to find out more about the inspiration behind her dish and how she’s feeling about the competition.

Full name: Jessica Huang

Place of work: The Berkeley Hotel

Job title: Demi Chef de Partie

Why did you enter the competition:

I heard about it through work because one of my colleagues took part last year and did quite well so it seemed quite interesting. It was something a bit different to the usual competitions.

What is the inspiration behind your dish:

The inspiration for my dish comes from St Nicholas Day celebrated throughout continental Europe. On December 6, St Nicholas apparently brings round oranges or clementines and different nuts like almonds and peanuts for the kids who get very excited about it. It’s a tradition I hadn’t heard of before until I went to France a few years back it sounded quite cool. A few of my European friends get very excited at the thought of receiving these things so I thought I would try and incorporate those types of flavours.

Tell us a bit more about the dish itself and the elements of it:

I wanted to use the flavours from the St Nicholas tradition and try to incorporate them into the dish.

Are you looking forward to the final:

I am. I'm a little nervous though as I haven’t entered a competition before.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of the day:

Because I haven’t done anything like this before, I guess it’s making sure I do everything without letting the pressure get to me. You don’t know what it’s going to be like on the day so it’ll probably just be things like making sure I get there on time and stuff like that.

This year the final five will be invited to re-create their entremet in front of a live audience in the recently opened TheTasteLab by Classic Fine Foods. The panel of judges which includes Pastry Chef for TheTasteLab by Classic Fine Foods London, Denis Dramé MCA and Valrhona Pastry Chef UK, Luke Frost and last year’s winner Maxime Michelot, who joins the judging panel as President of the Christmas Entremet Contest 2016, will then select the winner based on taste and appearance.

The winner will fly to New York for a 2 day hands-on training course at L’Ecole Valrhona Brooklyn. The prize includes flight tickets to New York and accommodation for 4 nights.

>>> Read more about the Classic Fine Foods Competition here

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 26th October 2016

Meet the finalists of the Classic Fine Foods Christmas Entremet Contest 2016: Jessica Huang, The Berkeley Hotel