South West Chef of the Year 2014 is Elly Wentworth

The  Staff Canteen

Elly Wentworth, chef de partie at Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe has been crowned the prestigious title of overall South West Chef of the Year 2014.

She had already been named Young Professional South West Chef of the Year after impressing judges with her consistency and calm approach as she prepared three dishes including mushroom tortellini and celeriac velouté.

The 22-year-old could not believe when her name was called out and said: "I wasn't expecting it because there was a lot of talent today. It's very good to be told you're food is the best by such inspiring chefs. The competition is really hard, you have to think on the spot and I made several changes to my dishes but really you have to just go with it. I'm just so happy to have won."

Elly Wentworth
Elly Wentworth

Dean Westcar made it a clean sweep for the Manor House Hotel. The junior sous chef caught the judges eye when he prepared pork two ways, butternut squash, romancesco and cabbage along with two other courses. He was awarded the crown in the Professional Class, beating three other hopefuls to the finish line in a year which saw entrants of an exceptional standard.

Finalists were invited to Exeter College where they were provided with a mystery box of ingredients and given a specified time to prepare dishes using its contents, they then had to wait until the presentation dinner to find out who had taken the title. 
 The evenings dinner was prepared by guest chefs, Nathan Cornwell, chef de partie, Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham, Mike Tweedie, sous chef, Gidleigh Park, Chagford and Adam Gerrish, head chef, Boscundle Manor, St Austell, all previous winners of the competition.

South West Chef of the Year is renowned for recognising the skill and dedication of professional chefs, up and coming young chefs and amateur cooks. Over the years, the competition has highlighted the very high standards that exist in the hospitality industry in the South West, helping raise the bar for all involved and improve the profitability and sustainability of an industry that is so significant for the region’s economy. In addition to their skills and experience, the competition enables competitors to demonstrate their understanding of and commitment to the diverse array of high quality ingredients produced in the South West of England whilst simultaneously raising awareness of its diversity and accessibility.

The judges - some of the finest chefs in the South West, including, Michael Caines MBE, Nathan Outlaw and Michael Caines, found the task of narrowing entries down an extremely difficult one.  The standard of entries and the menus submitted grows each year as competitors vie for the prestigious and widely recognised title ‘South West Chef of the Year’. Nathan, who was head judge for the juniors, said: "I did a lot of competitions when I was younger and it's really important because you meet so many people in the industry. It's a competition in the south West which all young chefs should have a go at - even we, the judges, learn new things from it!"

He added: "It gives the juniors a chance to show off on a big stage and we know how they are feeling, it's a lot of pressure. But we still scrutinise because we are chefs and that's what we do. The standard was extremely high and it had gone up since last year which made it tough to judge but the decision was unanimous in the end. This competition for me is about promoting the area, the produce that's available here."

Michael Caines, speaking after announcing the winners, couldn't be happier about this year's competition. He said: "Elly showed great skill throughout and she cooked a menu which we all agreed we would want to eat ourselves. The level of the food was superb and I hope this high standard encourages people to enter in the future." Some of the best chefs in the South west have got behind this competition and I think that's why there was so much talent this year - Elly was definitely pushed all the way.This competition is great and it puts South West chefs in a really positive position, it really promotes all that is great about this region."

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th October 2014

South West Chef of the Year 2014 is Elly Wentworth