Battle of the Chefs - Fuller's full-on fight

By Jo Bruce

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Adam Potato

Two Fuller's head chefs pitted their skills against each other by working their magic with French goat's cheese. Jo Bruce reports PubChef headed to...

Two Fuller's head chefs pitted their skills against each other by working their magic with French goat's cheese. Jo Bruce reports

PubChef headed to the capital for this month's Battle of the Chefs, where two Fuller's pub chefs cooked against the clock with this month's challenging box of ingredients.

The battleground was the Telegraph, in Telegraph Street, off Moorgate, London, where, representing the home team, was John Ng Yu Tin, who has the unusual perk for a pub chef of having every weekend off due to the bar's city location.

Taking up the challenge for the away side was Adam Staniforth, head chef at the Jolly Farmer, Worplesdon, Surrey. His best dishes include: pan-fried red snapper fillet with five spice, served with braised rice and homemade chunky pineapple salsa; and slowbraised lamb shank bourguignon style, with shallots, mushrooms, bacon and red wine with creamy garlic mashed potatoes.

The challenge

Shopping for this month's ingredients was far from easy, with venison, pine nuts and dry-cured bacon proving as difficult to find in London as Lord Lucan. The goods were finally tracked down in Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and M&S, but the hefty ingredients bill produced a gross profit that would make most pub chefs weep.

With the Telegraph's open kitchen, the skills of both chefs were laid bare to the scrutiny of the judging panel and the pub's customers, as well as to their team mascots of John's wife, Jennifer and Adam's, wife Diana.

The key product in both ingredient boxes was French goat's cheese, with the chefs challenged to create dishes that show the product's versatility. The cheeses used were Goat's Camembert, Crottin de Chavignol, Selles-sur-Cher, and Banon - a soft, creamy cheese from Provence.

Our contenders were also allowed to use basic stock-cupboard ingredients, such as mustard, wine vinegar, flour, milk, etc.

Each chef had to create both a starter and a main course, with five minutes in which to plan, then 45 minutes' cooking time.

And they're off….

50 minutes to go: Adam receives ingredients box A after picking it in a sealed envelope, but will the ingredients help him make A-grade dishes?

He remains calm as he surveys his package. "Blimey you get lots for a fiver!" he says. He heads back to the kitchen to decide how best to use his ingredients, while John's ingredients box is revealed.

Both chefs are given five minutes planning time before their cooking time starts.

45 minutes to go:

Being the decent chap he is, John Ng Yu Tin has briefed Adam on where everything is and how things work in the kitchen. Asked if he thinks that he has a home advantage, John admits that he probably has a slight one, but says he is not taking it too seriously.

Having further studied his ingredients, which include raspberries, leeks and rosemary, he jokes: "I am going to run off. I think I am going to do a stuffed mushroom, but I am not sure what to do with the venison yet," he adds.

Adam is alarmed that he has to use all the ingredients, and is undecided as to what to do with the sweet potato. But he soon comes up with a delicious sounding duo of dishes - chicken stuffed with Crottin de Chavignol and olives and grilled Goat's Camembert on a salad of rocket and artichokes.

40 minutes to go:

Adam contends with the questions of our judging panel then cracks on with his starter, chopping his vegetables and preparing the goat's cheese for his starter and main. He pits and chops the olives for his chicken dish.

Having decided to create sweet potato chips, Adam peels the sweet potatoes then cuts them into 10mm batons.

John peels his potatoes and carrots and works on preparing the vegetables and goat's cheese for his stuffed mushrooms starter.

30 minutes to go:

John chargrills his vegetables and prepares the shallots, while Adam stuffs the chicken and wraps it in bacon, then sears it.

20 minutes to go:

Adam prepares his courgettes and green beans and makes his sauce for the chicken. John prepares the carrot and potato purée.

10 minutes to go:

John focuses on making his goat's cheese, cream and raspberry sauce, while Adam cooks his courgettes and beans in some caramelised garlic and fries his floured sweet potato chips.

5 minutes to go:

Adam removes the chicken from the oven to let it rest, while John chargrills the venison.

The results

The judges for this month's battle of the chefs were Sally Clarke, representing French Goat's Cheeses in the UK, PubChef's Rachel Neaves and Telegraph regulars stockbrokers Alistair Macnab and David Gibson.

Our panel rated the dishes on creative use of ingredients, presentation and taste.

The first dish tasted was Adam's starter of grilled Banon with garlic, on a salad of rocket, artichoke and pine nuts. The judges praised the way that Adam used his ingredients and the "wow factor" presentation of the dish, which was full of colour.

Next up was John's starter of baked mushroom with garlic and basil topped with Goat's Camembert. The judges praised John on how well he had put the dish together and said that it was exceptionally well flavoured and was a good use of the goat's cheese.

With both chefs confidently finishing before their allotted time, there was no waiting time for our judges.

Adam's main course of supreme of chicken with Crottin de Chavignol, black olives and sweet potato frites, was first to be sampled. The judges commented on the excellent goat's cheese and olive combination that Adam used to stuff the chicken and said his sweet potato chips were a masterstroke.

Our battle tasters were also impressed with John's venison served on top of a potato and carrot purée and a raspberry and goat's cheese sauce.

It was a tough decision for this month's panel, with the judges voting John's starter a winner but Adam's two dishes the best overall.

Ultimately though, it is Adam who is crowned champion, with John commended as a strong second place.

Sally Clarke of French Goat's Cheeses presented both chefs with a certificate, a bottle of Champagne and the book To Die For: 100 Gastronomic Experiences To Have Before You Die.

Related topics Chefs

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