Chefs reflect on 120 years of International Salon Culinaire

Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC)

Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC)

Standard Supplier 11th March 2022
Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC)

Chefs reflect on 120 years of International Salon Culinaire

Historic chef competition International Salon Culinaire is back for 2022, with more than 100 live competitions and skills challenges. 

Chefs from around the UK and beyond will be demonstrating their skills and creativity to a prestigious judging panel of over 70 experienced professional chefs. 

As well as popular returning challenges such as Tilda Chef Team of the Year and the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef Team of the Year, 2022 will see the introduction of the Restaurant Meal Kit Challenge, the Pub Chef of the Year award and the inaugural Apprentice Challenge, highlighting the important of apprenticeships in bringing a new generation of talented cooks into the industry. 

Salon Culinaire’s Project Director Andrew Pantelli says: “After a tough couple of years for chefs around the world, we’re thrilled to be bringing the live Salon Culinaire back to ExCeL London. The experience of bringing dishes to life in this environment is invaluable and we can’t wait to see what this year’s competitors cook up.”

The competition will be celebrating its 120th birthday in 2022. Over its long and prestigious history, the event has seen two world wars, welcomed luminaries such as the Queen Mother in 1988 and Her Royal Highness Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1990 and has hosted numerous celebrated chefs competing in its live theatres. 

Peter Griffiths MBE, who served as Salon Director for over 25 years, recalls other special visitors to Salon during his tenure, including Lord Soames MP, Norma Major, wife of John Major, and Virginia Bottomley MP. 

He comments: “I used to be in awe of some of the culinary skills the chefs showed across Salon, particularly in Salon Display, over the years. I made many industry friends through the competitors, renowned chef judges and industry sponsors, both in the UK and from around the world.” 

A long-standing partner to the competition has been Compass Group UK & Ireland, with Culinary Director Nick Vadis reflecting: “We’ve constantly seen Salon Live Theatre competitions evolve with the times, adding authentic street food, very much in tune with the industry. This year we’ll continue to see the growing importance of sustainable menus, food waste and plant-based dishes coming to the fore. This has been on the agenda for several years at Salon, but I think this year we will see it peak. 

“What has been behind Compass’s longstanding support of the competition and the competing chefs? Wow, Compass has been supporting the show for three decades, it was something that attracted me to Compass when I joined over 20 years ago. 

“I think it’s important for chefs to have that belief and backing from the business, it makes us an attractive prospect and helps us retain our people. Investing in our chefs is important and giving them the opportunity to develop and push themselves at events like Salon Culinaire at HRC is a great vehicle to do this. 

“Salon Culinaire gives chefs confidence, competing helps them develop and hone their skills, as well as picking up new techniques. Chefs don’t get out of their own kitchen often, so these events are also a great opportunity to challenge themselves, meet other chefs and see what the standards are within the hospitality world.” 

Steve Munkley, who has been the competition’s Salon Director since 2014, says: “Salon Culinaire is a fantastic way to build the confidence of young chefs and encourage them to mix with their peers. When I talk to suppliers, I always remind them that these chefs will purchase your equipment tomorrow. If you engage them when they’re young you will feel the benefit in future years.” 

Over the years, International Salon Culinaire has seen the who’s who of the UK chef scene pass through its doors, from Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Worrell Thompson to Adam Smith, Glynn Purnell and many more. 

Chef Ramsay reflected on his experience at the show when he competed in 1992, saying: "I have incredible memories thinking back to the Salon Culinaire competition. It’s so highly regarded and such an honour and achievement as a young chef to be involved. I remember winning as a 20 something chef and feeling it was such a career high at the time. 

My pride walking back into the kitchen of Le Gavroche and being congratulated by the great Albert Roux was an incredible feeling, truly something I wouldn't ever forget. 

"I love that, 30 years on, it’s still so important to the future culinary generation, a great indicator they’re on the right track with their careers." 

International Salon Culinaire takes place on 21-23 March at ExCeL London as part of Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC). Learn more at 

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