International Salon Culinaire announces winners of plant-based dish challenge

18 March, 21

International Salon Culinaire, the historic chef competition hosted at Hotel, Restaurant & Catering, has unveiled the first set of winners in its series of virtual chef challenges taking place in 2021.

The Custom Culinary Plant Forward Challenge, in partnership with Compass Group UK & Ireland, saw chefs around the UK and internationally create a main course dish where plant-based produce was central to the plate and which incorporated the Custom Culinary® Mushroom and/or Vegetable Paste in the dish.

The entrants were required to submit a recipe, a brief description and a photo of the dish, plus a short video showing their creation and detailing their reasons for entering it into the competition.

At the virtual award ceremony on 17 March, Salon Director Steve Munkley unveiled the dishes which achieved Merit, Bronze and Silver Awards, before revealing that James St Claire Jones, Executive Head Chef at Hoarcross Hall Hotel and Spa and member of the British Army Culinary Arts team, had won the prestigious Gold Award.

Chef St Claire-Jones’ winning dish was a tortelloni of vegan feta and wild woodland mushroom with warm sweetcorn panna cotta, hazelnut pesto crumb, mushroom-infused puy lentils, mushroom broth and chive oil.

Watch the video entry for the winning dish here:
James St Claire-Jones, Hoar Cross Hall entry for the Custom Culinary Plant Forward Challenge

Salon Director Steve Munkley commented: “Chefs have been locked out of their commercial kitchens for many months, but that hasn’t stopped them creating some great dishes out of their homes. Our sponsors have risen to the occasion and arranged to have produce delivered for practising and dish development. With all these changes the judging of the competition had to evolve and the Salon Culinaire judges have stepped up to the mark.”

Gold Award winner James St Claire-Jones said: “We’ve kept working through lockdown with menu development, and this competition has really given us a chance to play and get involved with something outside the business. It’s been fantastic.”

The award winners were as follows.

• Ethan Sayce, Plant Based Dreams
• Avraam Dimitrios Avramidis, Home Kitchen
• Ayesha Khan, Star Quality Catering
• Craig Miles, Bidfood

• Patricia Winters, The Queen’s Head
• Miguel Soares, The Tower Hotel
• Varun Khanna, Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management
• Chris Bugher, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

• Tristan Merrick, Royal Marines HM Forces
• Christopher Avey, River Green Trading Ltd.

• James St Claire-Jones, Hoarcross Hall Hotel & Spa and the British Army Culinary Arts team

Project Director Andrew Pantelli commented: “We’ve been thrilled by the level of engagement with our first virtual challenge. The competitors were required to think outside the box with their approach to these awards and have really demonstrated their ingenuity and creativity.”

“Huge congratulations to James and all those recognised today, and many thanks to our esteemed judges, headline sponsor Compass Group UK & Ireland and competition sponsor Custom Culinary.”

The judging panel for The Custom Culinary Plant Forward Challenge featured:

• Graham Crump, British Culinary Federation
• Hayden Groves, Hayden Groves Consultancy
• Steve Groves, Roux at Parliament Square
• Richard Hunt, Wentworth Club
• Michael Kitts, Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management
• Dennis Mwakulua, Lexington Catering
• Ben Purton, Off to Work
• Miranda Quantrill, Westminster Kingsway College
• Paul Rowlands, Custom Culinary
• Mat Shropshall, University College Birmingham
• Ian Simpson, Osteria Odette in Nizza Monferrato, Italy

The deadline for the next competition – the Alsop & Walker Cheese Starter challenge – is 31 March and will see competitors produce a cheese-based starter using one of four award-winning British cheeses supplied by artisan cheesemakers Alsop & Walker. Find out more on the International Salon Culinaire website.

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