Winner of the 2014 Game Chef of the Year competition announced

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th January 2014
  [caption id="attachment_185532" align="aligncenter" width="470" caption="Pic - Guy Hinks photography"][/caption] Tom Van Zeller of Van Zeller Restaurants has won Braehead Food’s Game Chef of the Year competition, sponsored by The Staff Canteen. The 37-year-old chef-patron of Van Zeller Restaurants in Harrogate won the competition created by game supplier, Braehead Foods, to produce the best two courses using game, with his wigeon and loin of hare recipes. On winning the competition, Tom told The Staff Canteen: “It’s a fantastic feeling. It was a tough competition with some great competitors so I’m delighted and very proud to be taking it back to Yorkshire.” Tom wins a trip to Sweden courtesy of Highland Game where he will hunt wild boar in an exclusive reserve south of Stockholm. Competition judges were Michelin-starred Tom Kitchin of The Kitchin in Leith, Ian McAndrew of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Joe Queen, executive chef at Braehead. Talking about the winner, Tom Kitchin said: “What was important was his consistency. Both dishes worked. The main course was particularly good.” And of the overall standard of cooking, he added: “Having been a judge here for three years in a row now, without a shadow of a doubt this is the highest level we’ve ever had. The dishes have gone to another level.” The runners up were 24-year-old Jonathan Cook of Greywalls Hotel in Edinburgh and 30-year-old Daniel Bland of The Wheatsheaf Inn in Newark. Jonathon cooked Scottish venison loin carpaccio and roast pigeon, and Daniel cooked sloe-gin cured wood pigeon and roast loin of venison. Both runners up win a deer stalking trip on a highland estate. “It was very close,” said Judge Ian McAndrew. “The winner wasn’t a clear, clear winner. The presentation on both the second person’s courses was particularly impressive.” But it was Tom Van Zeller who scraped through to win it with his starter of wigeon with celeriac remoulade, apple and hazelnut and his main course of loin of hare with choucroute, baby turnip and beetroot. Speaking about his choice of recipes, winner Tom said: “I just really like the meat. I really like the flavour of wigeon and you can’t beat hare; it’s so tender. For the other ingredients I just wanted to use what’s about at the moment.” This is the third year that Braehead have run the Game Chef of the Year competition and each year it has grown and attracted more contestants. Judge and executive chef at Braehead, Joe Queen said: “This competition is definitely on the calendar every year now. People are looking out for it and want to be involved in it.” Tom Kitchin added: “It started off very small but it has gathered pace. You’ve now got people coming from all over the country and of all ages. It comes with great kudos, great prizes and it’s all about cooking game, which is what we’re all about. Apart from the hunting trip to Sweden, this year’s winner will also be put through to the regional heats of the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Chef of the Year competition.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th January 2014

Winner of the 2014 Game Chef of the Year competition announced