S.Pellegrino Young Chef UK and Ireland Finalists: Francesco Sodano and Gareth Ruck

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th June 2016

On Tuesday, ten chefs will compete for the title of S.Pellegrino Young Chef in the UK and Ireland final held at Waitrose Cookery School and judged by Claude Bosi, Ollie Dabbous, Ross Lewis and JP McMahon. We take a closer look at the finalists and find out why they chose to to enter the competition. Today we speak to Francesco Sodano and Gareth Ruck.

Francesco Sodano, Annabel’s club, London

Job role: Sous chef

A short round up of your background in cooking:

I come from a family of chefs and I started as a child to help my father in the kitchen. When I was 17, I started my career in Michelin star restaurants between Amalfi coast and Rome and at 24 I moved to London to learn more on food in another country with a small but intense stint in Los Angeles.

Who influences you most in cooking?

Anthony Genovese chef patron de "il Pagliaccio restaurant" 2 Michelin star in Rome

How are you feeling about the competition?

A bit nervous to be honest but feeling positive for this new experience

Why did you enter the competition?

I think S.Pellegrino young chef is a great opportunity to compete with other talented young chef and beyond the result is going to be a great experience anyway

What are your ambitions in cooking?

This is a great question, cooking for me is one of the pleasures of life. I feel so good when I prep something nice and I always try to do my best. Sometimes I'm very hard on myself because I'm a perfectionist but this helps me get better and better. I think a chef after a certain path has its own food ideology and I hope as soon as possible to be able to share my one with all the world.

>>> Read more about the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition here


Gareth Ruck, Hogan Lovells Fine Dining, London

Job role: Head Chef

A short round up of his background in cooking:

Gareth Ruck was born and raised in Northern Ireland and has been cooking from the tender age of 16, when he turned 20 Gareth moved to London to further his career. His first job in London was working for Patterson’s restaurant under chef patron Raymond Patterson. After working for Raymond for four years Gareth went into contract catering and has been working for lusso catering under Ch&co Group, where he is Head Chef at Hogan Lovell’s law firm.

Why did you enter the competition?

I entered the competition as it’s a great way to challenge yourself, to put yourself up against other good young chefs outside your normal comfort zone.  Also it is an extremely prestigious international competition and I would love to represent Britain and Ireland in the final.

What dish will you be creating and why?

My dish is salt marsh lamb garnished by what it would eat, so wild garlic, samphire and wild asparagus.

I chose to use salt marsh lamb because of a food memory.  As a commis chef it was on the menu in a restaurant I worked in. I remember the first time I tasted it and was completely blown away by the flavour.  We slow cooked the shoulder over night and I picked it the following morning.  I can still remember the flavour.  It's such a unique and brilliant product it was easy for me to choose it as the star for my dish.

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by many chefs but Jason Atherton comes to mind. I did a stage at Pollen Street social and the way he runs his restaurant and food is incredible. The focus on flavour above everything else is inspiring. Also, the fact he successfully runs 16 restaurants is something I believe most chefs would love to achieve.

How are you feeling about the competition?

I'm obviously extremely honoured and excited to be in the competition but there are some butterflies in my stomach!


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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th June 2016

S.Pellegrino Young Chef UK and Ireland Finalists: Francesco Sodano and Gareth Ruck