Sam wins Junior Chef of Wales title to achieve bucket list wish

Talented Mid Wales chef Sam Everton has chalked off a bucket list wish by becoming the new Junior Chef of Wales.

Sam, 25, a lecturer at Coleg Ceredigion in Cardigan and part-time junior sous chef at Y Seler, Aberaeron, said he felt “honoured” to receive the dragon trophy after competing against seven other young Welsh chefs in the final.

The final was held at the successful Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC), organised by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) over three days at the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales), Newport.

After receiving the trophy and a gold medal from Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths at the awards dinner last night (Wednesday), Sam said: “I knew I did well in the final but I never imagined I was going to win.

“What an honour to represent Wales again to show that I am the best in my field. All the hard work and training has paid off. Winning this competition was in my bucket list and it’s a huge achievement.”

Sam, whose commis chef was one of his students, Tyler Richardson from Y Seler, has previously competed for Wales and the UK in WorldSkills competitions around the world.

He plans to compete for the National Chef of Wales next year, as he bids to become the first chef to win the two titles in consecutive years since Danny Burke.

In the final, Sam cooked a starter of potato salad comprising laverbread gnocchi, infused root vegetables, Caerphilly cheese, toasted turnip top and watercress veloute.
His main course was a celebration of Welsh Beef with locally sourced sirloin, braised beef cheek, textures of mushroom and onion and truffled beef reduction.

Sam will now compete in the semi-final of the Craft Guild of Chefs’ 2024 UK Young National Chef of the Year competition. He will also be invited to attend the Worldchefs Congress and Expo to be held at ICC Wales in May, 2026. He also won a set of engraved Friedr Dick competition knives and £100 of Churchill products.

Runner-up and silver medallist was Ged Jones, chef de partie at Carden Park Hotel, near Chester who lives in Connahs Quay, in his first competition.

Other silver medallists were Katie Duffy, chef at The Halfway, Llanelli; Rhys Yorath, chef de partie at Llanerch Vineyard, Hensol; Dylan Evans, commis chef at Henrock, Windermere and Rosie Koffer, chef de partie at Chartists 1770 at The Trewythen, Llanidloes.

Bronze medallists were Aizel Reyes, commis chef at The Celtic Collection, Newport and Abbie Williams, a learner at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw Campus.

The junior chefs had 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 had to be used in the dishes.

CAW vice president and judging panel chairman Colin Gray congratulated all the finalists. “They are the future of our industry and are all winners in our eyes for having the courage to compete,” he said.

Headline sponsors of the WICC 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, City & Guilds, Compass Cymru and Ecolab.

Picture captions:

Sam Everton holds the dragon trophy aloft to celebrate winning the Junior Chef of Wales final.

Junior Chef of Wales winner Sam Everton receives the dragon trophy from Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths and CAW president Arwyn Watkins, OBE.

The finalists’ menus were:

Katy Duffy’s starter was Caerphilly and Teifi smoked cheese douphinoise, sherry vinegar gel sauce soubise, Welsh black truffle and crispy onion. Main course was roasted Welsh Beef fillet, beef shin cottage tart, salt baked celeriac, parsley emulsion, roast leek puree and sauce bordelaise.

Abbie Williams’ starter was applewood and rosemary smoked ricotta, black olive, peas, herbs, herb liquor and pea sorbet. Main course was Welsh beef pithivier, oxtail and mushroom, duxelles, lovage puree, bone marrow bordelaise and beef fat carrots.

Ged Jones’ starter was Per las mille feuille with celery, hazelnuts, rar and a watercress veloute. Main course was cured and roasted Welsh beef fillet with braised ox cheek, crushed Pembrokeshire potato and leek terrine, spring onion, beetroot and pickled onion cups.

Dylan Evans’ starter was Welsh rarebit with sourdough croutons, cider braised leeks, barbecued leeks, Welsh potato rarebit sauce and crispy potato skins. Main course was Welsh Beef sirloin roasted and rested in its own fat on a Welsh grain and mushroom ragout, topped with horseradish glazed kales and a beef sauce, with ox cheek doughnut, truffle pure lardo and grated Welsh truffle on the side.

Rhys Yorath’s starter of raviolo of Welsh egg and truffle, Jerusalem artichoke, confit garlic and kale. Main course was pan roasted Welsh Beef rib, glazed cheek, celeriac, salsify and sauce polvarde.

Aizel Reyes went back to her Philippines roots to cook a starter of vegetarian dumplings from scratch with dipping chili oil. Main course was Asian style Welsh Beef sirloin steak, butternut squash puree, beef bon bon, tender stem broccoli, glazed carrots and red wine jus.

Rosie Koffer’s starter was leek and Caerphilly tartlet, toasted walnuts and red onion jam. Main course was PGI striploin, braised shoulder, wild mushroom, baby onion and red wine jus.

Sam Everton’s starter of potato salad comprised laverbread gnocchi, infused root vegetables, Caerphilly cheese, toasted turnip top and watercress veloute. Main course was a celebration of Welsh Beef with locally sourced sirloin, braised beef cheek, textures of mushroom and onion and truffled beef reduction.

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