Record entries as Wales’ biggest ever hospitality skills event opens tomorrow

Record entries have been attracted for the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC) which opens tomorrow (Monday) morning at the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales), Newport.

Hundreds of chefs, butchers and front of house workers will be competing over three days at the biggest hospitality skills event Wales has ever seen as ICC Wales becomes Wales’ Hospitality Hub from January 22-24.

The WICC, which was previously held in North Wales, is open free of charge to the public and hospitality trade. Organised by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW), the 2024 WICC is also hosting the Skills Competition Wales hospitality finals for the first time.

Showpiece competitions are the National and Junior Chef of Wales Finals, the Welsh Craft Butcher of the Year and Green Chef Challenge. Other competitions include the Cygnet Gin Cocktail Mixology class and the Wales heats of the Major Chefs Challenge and the 2024 Riso Gallo Young Risotto Chef Challenge.

The National Chef of Wales and Welsh Craft Butcher of the Year finals are being held tomorrow followed by the Junior Chef of Wales final on Tuesday and Green Chef Challenge on Wednesday.

In addition to individual class prizes, there will be coveted awards for the college awarded the highest number of points over the three days, the best junior learner and best chef in the open live classes..

Skills Competition Wales aims to raise the profile of skills in Wales and is part of the Welsh Government funded Inspiring Skills Excellence Programme. Students, trainees and apprentices are given a chance to challenge, benchmark and raise their skills by taking part in competitions across a range of sectors.

Climax of the WICC is an Industry Awards Dinner on the evening of Wednesday, January 24, which will showcase the best Welsh food and drink. Tickets are now on sale at [email protected] for the dinner costing £1,000 for tables of 12 or £100 for individuals.

There will also be the unique opportunity for WICC visitors to try the menus from the different competitions, on a first come first served basis, by booking tickets via [email protected] .

CAW president Arwyn Watkins, OBE, says the WICC will be the launchpad for the road to Wales hosting the Worldchefs Congress and Expo 2026 at ICC Wales.

“The WICC will become an annual hospitality hub open to the public and hospitality trade, showcasing Welsh food, drink, hospitality and skills over three days and providing a real opportunity to have a conversation with the industry,” he said.

The WICC’s headline sponsors are the Welsh Government, Castell Howell, Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales, ICC Wales, Cambrian Training Company, Kentaur, Churchill, MCS Technical Products, Roller Grill, Radnor Hills, Dick Knifes, Cygnet Gin, Capital Cuisine, Ecolab, City & Guilds and Compass Cymru.

Picture caption:

The Welsh International Culinary Championships open at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport tomorrow (Monday)


Notes for Editor:

National Chef of Wales Final:

The finalists are: Ryan Jones, head chef at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, won the coveted title in 2014; Jamie Tully, executive chef Chartists 1770 at The Trewythen, Llanidloes; Wayne Barnard, junior sous chef at Benito Luis, Caerleon; Matthew Owen, head chef at The Celtic Manor, Newport; Angharad Rockall, head chef at Heronston Hotel and Spa, Bridgend; Joshua Morris, senior sous chef Palé Hall Hotel, Llandderfel, Bala; Rebekah Wright, sous chefs at The Celtic Manor/The Celtic Collection, Newport; Harry Paynter-Roberts, sous chef at Carden Park Hotel and Spa, Chester and William Richards, training officer with Cambrian Training from Pontyclun.

The chefs will be given four hours to cook a creative, three course dinner for 12 people, with a vegan starter followed by a main course using two different cuts of GI Welsh Lamb and a dessert featuring Denbigh plums, ice cream, chocolate and biscuit or tuille. A minimum of six Welsh GI products must be used in the menu.

The winner will have an opportunity to attend the Worldchefs Congress and Expo 2026, which is being hosted at ICC Wales by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW). He or she will also win a set of engraved Friedr Dick competition knives and £250 of Churchill products.

Junior Chef of Wales Final:

Finalists are Abbie Williams, a learner at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw Campus, who was runner up last year; Katie Duffy, chef at The Halfway, Llanelli; Ged Jones, chef de partie at Carden Park Hotel, Chester; Dylan Evans, commis chef at L'enclume, Cartmel; Nathan Kelly, sous chef at Spirit Restaurant, Warrington; Rhys Yorath, chef de partie at Llanerch Vineyard, Hensol; Aizel Reyes, commis chef at The Celtic Collection, Newport; Rosie Koffer, chef de partie at Chartists 1770 at The Trewythen, Llanidloes; Kye Roberts, chef de partie at Dm Catering, Milford Haven and Sam Everton, junior sous chef at Y Seler, Aberaeron.

The junior chefs will be given three hours to cook a creative, two course dinner for six people, with a starter suitable for a vegetarian diet and a main course using two different cuts of GI Welsh Beef. A minimum of four Welsh GI products must be used in the dishes.

The winner will get an automatic seeding in the semi-final of the Craft Guild of Chefs’ 2024 UK Young National Chef of the Year competition, will have an opportunity to attend the Worldchefs Congress and Expo 2026 and

Welsh Craft Butcher of the Year Final

Finalists are Ben Roberts, owner of Astley & Stratton Ltd, Farndon, near Chester; Philip Tucker from Tuckers Butchers, Mumbles; Ieuan Hughes from Golden Valley Meat & Game, Grosmont, Abergavenny; Ieuan Pincott from Oriel Jones, Canton, Cardiff; Jack Hefford from Morrisons, Porth and Elis Morris from Daniel Morris Butchers, Mold.

The butchers will undertake two tasks to showcase their skills to judges from the Craft Butchery Team Wales. They will have 30 minutes to cut a whole lamb into primal joints, as well as clean their work area.

For the second task, they will have one hour and 20 minutes to produce a visually exciting display to merchandise the meat showcasing both their skills and creativity.

The butchers must also create a minimum of two lamb products, identical in appearance and size, that judges will weigh to check consistency.

WICC programme:

Monday, January 22 from 12.30pm
National Chef of Wales
Three-course meal featuring a vegan starter, Welsh Lamb main course and dessert featuring Denbigh plumbs – Tickets £30 per person

Tuesday, January 23 from 4pm
Junior Chef of Wales
Two-course meal featuring a vegetarian starter and Welsh Beef main course – Tickets £20 per person

Wednesday, January 24 from 4.30pm
Green Chef Challenge
Three-course meal predominantly vegetable-based – Tickets £30 per person.

Skills Competition Wales – Restaurant Service
Two-course meal featuring chicken main course and dessert and glass of wine – Tickets £10 per person.

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