When two chefs go to war

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Lucy Britner reports on PubChef's latest ready, steady, cook battle Doing battle with your boss in a cooking competition is no walk in the park —...

Lucy Britner reports on PubChef's

latest ready, steady, cook battle

Doing battle with your boss in a cooking competition is no walk in the park — especially if you've only been in your job a week.

Newly recruited sous chef Kier Foster accepts the challenge from head chef and licensee Dave Wharton at the Chequers, in Slaugham, West Sussex, a Zelgrain Pubco outlet.

The pair are given two sets of mystery ingredients, five minutes' planning time and 45 minutes to execute three dishes — which must include one main course.

Both mystery boxes include Bel Foodservice cheeses Port Salut, Leerdammer and Cantadou, which the chefs must use in their three dishes. All other ingredients are optional, and the chefs can choose one white elephant from each of their boxes to give to the other chef. Stock cupboard ingredients are also allowed.

Dave loses the toss and Kier nominates him to step up first.

The head chef eyes his ingredients confidently, sniffing his way through the different cheeses. He goes straight for the rhubarb and removes it. Kier looks a little nervous as he punts for the pears as his ingredient to pass over.

The chefs' creations are put to the test by a panel of judges who declare the battle a draw.

Into the kitchen


Dave starts with his five minutes' thinking time and decides on a butternut squash and Leerdammer soup with caramelised pears and thyme garnish.

The squash is placed in a pan of boiling water and the pears go straight into the oven. Dave adds double cream, Leerdammer and freshly squeezed orange to the soup, dropping in caramelised pears and garnishing with fresh thyme. A little toasted crouton topped with pear and cheese sits on top.

His second dish takes on a posh breakfast theme with a Leerdammer Portobello mushroom "sandwich", grilled prosciutto and a topping of fried quail's egg. Dave adds the peppers and serves with a rocket salad.

Dave's main course idea is a chicken breast stuffed with Port Salut and the garlic and herb Cantadou, wrapped in prosciutto and served with buttered asparagus and butternut squash purée. "This is a classic idea with a bit of a twist and I'm interested to see how the cheeses work together."


Kier's initial thoughts are to use the smoked Port Salut and aubergine in breadcrumbs as fritters. "This would be a great vegetarian starter or a good accompaniment to a platter," he says.

His second idea includes using the Leerdammer and walnuts to make a crust for the rib-eye steak. "I don't want to use the horseradish cream cheese with the steak — it's a bit obvious. I want to try something different," says Kier. He plans to serve the steak with balsamic roasted vine tomatoes and sautéed potatoes.

Kier's third dish is a chorizo salad with a cheesy mix of horseradish Cantadou, basil and lemon juice with a balsamic glaze.

Creative juices

Dave's dishes

Butternut squash and Leerdammer soup with caramelised pears

Portobello mushroom "sandwich" with Leedammer, fried quail's egg and prosciutto crisp

Chicken breast stuffed with Port Salut and garlic and herb Cantadou, with buttered asparagus and butternut squash purée

Kier's dishes

Aubergine and smoked Port Salut fritters

Rib-eye steak with walnut and Leerdammer crust, balsamic vine tomatoes and sautéed potatoes

Chorizo salad with horseradish Cantadou, lemon and basil

Dave's recipe


Chicken breast

Garlic and herb


Port Salut




Spring onions

Butternut squash

White wine

Orange juice


Caramelise the spring onion and mix together with the Cantadou and the Port Salut. Stuff the chicken breast with the

cheese mixture and wrap in prosciutto.

Oven cook for 15 minutes on 200°C.

Trim the asparagus and boil in salt water for three to four minutes.

Drain, add butter and season. Boil butternut squash in stock, a little orange juice and white wine. Reduce and purée.

Mystery boxes

Dave's ingredients

Port Salut


Garlic and herb




Unsalted butter



Chicken breast





Spring onions



Butternut squash

Keir's ingredients

Smoked Port Salut





Unsalted butter








Crusty bread

Red onions



Sugar snap peas

Healthy by design

Battle of the chefs is sponsored by Bel Foodservice. The company is dedicated to meeting the cheese catering needs of the UK foodservice industry.

It aims to match the excellence of Bel's product range with first-rate logistics support and a thorough understanding of each customer's requirements.

The company strives to deliver the finest service and the very best from Bel's international portfolio in a range of formats that reflects the product needs of foodservice operators — and the tastes of their customers.

With healthy eating high on the national agenda, particularly in the public sector, there is increasing pressure on caterers to provide healthy, nutritious food. Bel's cheese products provide a good source of calcium and protein.

Many of its most popular brands, including the Laughing Cow, Leerdammer and Mini Babybel are available in reduced-fat variants to cater for the needs of health-conscious consumers.

As well as providing a range of individual cheese portions, Bel Foodservice also provides an ingredients range perfectly suited to cooking and sandwich-making.

Bel Foodservice is part of Bel UK —

a subsidiary of the Bel Group, one of the world's leading producers of cheese portions and one of Europe's top producers of processed cheese.

Started in France in 1865, Bel now has a major presence in more than 120 countries and operates some 23 production sites.

The company produces many of the UK's most popular cheese brands including Mini Babybel, the Laughing Cow, Cheez Dippers, Leerdammer, Port Salut and Boursin.

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