Sharjah competition holds Middle Eastern promise for talented Welsh chefs

A team of six talented young chefs, including three debutants, will be representing Wales in a prestigious international culinary competition in the United Arab Emirates later this month.

The Culinary Association of Wales (CAW) has been invited to compete against eight other countries in the Alen Thong Golden Coffee Pot Young Chef Challenge at The International Emirates Salon Culinaire, during Expoculinaire 2024 Sharjah from May 20-22.

Flying the flag for Wales will be captain Calum Smith, 23, and Jordan Howorth, 25, sous chefs at Shrewsbury School, Shrewsbury, sous chef Harry Paynter-Roberts, 26, and head chef Sion Hughes, 26, from Carden Park Hotel and Spa, near Chester, Dylan Evans, 21, commis chef at L’Enclume, Cartmel and Connor Smith,19, commis chef at the Lion and Pheasant, Shrewsbury.

Debutants for Wales are Dylan, Jordan and Connor, who is Calum’s younger brother. Harry and Dylan competed in this year’s Junior Chef of Wales final, in which Harry was runner-up.

Calum captained the Junior Culinary Team Wales, which included Harry and Sion, to silver and bronze medals at the Culinary World Cup in 2022.

Sion will have Calum as his commis when they compete in the Global Chefs Challenge final in Singapore in October.

“We are relishing the opportunity to welcome three new chefs into the team and we are excited to be representing Wales on the other side of the world,” said Calum. “Practices at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport have gone really well and we are working in harmony, like we have worked together for years.

“It will be nerve-racking because none of us has done this competition before, but spirits are high around the team. Everyone is looking forward to a potential podium finish in Sharjah, if we deliver what we have all worked incredibly hard on

“I can’t thank both Culinary Association of Wales president Arwyn Watkins, OBE and vice-president Colin Gray enough for all the support and guidance they have given the team and we hope we can repay their hard work with a positive result in Sharjah.”

The Alen Thong Golden Coffee Pot Young Chef Challenge aims to become the most notable gastronomic contest anywhere in the Middle East for young chefs under the age of 28 years.

Three teams compete daily, creating an internationally themed edible cold salad, appetiser, dessert buffet and hot main course for 20 diners. Teams can cook a main course of their choice and Wales have chosen chicken.

Each team will make a gateau, three modern desserts and a hot dessert, which will be prepared with diners and judges watching.

Nine Worldchefs judges, including Colin Gray, managing director of Capital Cuisine, Caerphilly, will judge the competition.

The last time Welsh chefs competed in this competition as a senior team in 2013, they came away with a gold medal.

CAW sponsors are the Welsh Government, Castell Howell, Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales, ICC Wales, Cambrian Training Company, Radnor Hills, Dick Knifes, Cygnet Gin, Capital Cuisine.

Picture caption:

The Welsh team who will be competing in Sharjah (from left) Jordan Howorth, Dylan Evans, Harry Paynter-Roberts, Calum Smith, Sion Hughes and Connor Smith.

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