A young chef from Essex is celebrating after winning the coveted title of Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year 2014.
Robert Hall who works at the House of Commons battled it out in a Masterchef-style cook-off at University College Birmingham on Friday 21st February.
The winners were announced at an official awards dinner at UCB on Friday evening.
As well as the honour of being the 2014 Young Chef of the Year, Robert Hall has also won a once in a lifetime trip to Hong Kong where he will gain an insight into the hospitality industry at Michelin starred restaurants and explore the region’s cultural highlights.
The national competition offers aspiring young chefs and catering students between the ages of 18-25, the chance to boost their culinary careers.
Judging the competition were celebrity TV chef Ching He Huang, Michelin-starred Birmingham chef Glynn Purnell, and President of the British Culinary Federation, Peter Griffiths.
At just 24 years old and a first-time entrant, it was an unexpected win for Robert who said he was overwhelmed to have been crowned the winner.
He cooked his way to the final with two Thai/Japanese inspired dishes which included a starter of skirt steak “sui” with pistachio puree, pickled mushrooms, cauliflower and radish. He finished his winning menu with tom yam turbot with ramen broth and crab bon bon.
When asked what inspired him to enter, Robert said: “The House of Commons continues to support talent from within and part of this involves encouraging and driving young chefs to enter competitions and compete on a national scale. This was the first competition I have ever entered, I am overwhelmed to have won and I’m thoroughly looking forward to the trip to Hong Kong.”
Robert faced tough competition from 15 other finalists from trade and colleges including Bourneville College, Eton, University College Birmingham, Crown Moran Hotel in Cricklewood and the Elior catering group.
Chairman of the judges and President of the British Culinary Federation, Peter Griffiths said: “Now in its second year, this competition has attracted a great deal of promising professionals from across the UK. We were highly impressed by the diversity of the menus and the chefs’ choice of Oriental ingredients.
“Robert’s dishes demonstrated a clever use of modern cooking techniques combined with traditional Asian flair. The Thai/Japanese fusion in the main dish was brave and demonstrated a confident use of flavours. Robert showed an excellent work ethic and process in the kitchen and his final dishes were spot on!”
Princia Fernandes from University College Birmingham was placed second with her menu of bang-bang Monkfish and aromatic duck, with Joshua Anderson from the Amadeus catering group part of the NEC and ICC, came third with his innovative vegetable garden and steamed halibut.
Mr Wing Yip, the Chairman of Wing Yip, added: “For the second year running I have been extremely impressed by the level of culinary expertise demonstrated by the chefs. This competition really is a celebration of both quality Oriental cuisine and the creative flair we have coming through in the UK. These are the chefs to watch out for in the future.”