Four chefs shortlisted for the award and four young chefs shortlisted for the Parliamentary Young Pub Chef of the Year award were given a choice of ingredients from a prepared list and given an hour to prepare and cook a dish for a panel of judges at Fuller's site the Vintry, Monument, City of London, on Tuesday 26 January.
Celebrity chef and judge Paul Merrett told the Publican's Morning Advertiser: “It’s talented chefs that are maintaining a healthy pub industry in this country. We keep being told that lots and lots of pubs are going out of business but none of the ones with good food are.
Future of the pub
“They’re all still there and I think most of us recognise that the future of the pub is very much in the hands of the food-loving public and those that want to deliver that.”
The finalists were John Calton of the Staith House, North Shields, Tyne and Wear; Gordon Jones of the Brit Pub, Port Talbot, south Wales; Milan Hukal of the Dog Inn, Grundisburgh, Suffolk; and Michele Cremona of the Candlemaker, Battersea, south-west London.
Competing for the young chefs’ award was Gordon Stott of the Sun Inn, Dummer, Hampshire; Robert Yuill of the D’Arcy Thompson, Dundee, Tayside; Edward Hackland of the Waggon, Halam, Nottinghamshire; and Matt Long of the Raglan Arms, Llandenny, south Wales.
The two award winners will be announced at a special ceremony to be held at the House of Commons on Tuesday 23 February.
Judges at the cook off included Merrett, British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds, Fuller’s’ head of food Paul Dickinson, Nestlé Professional’s Andrej Prokes, and Conservative MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group Andrew Griffiths.
Simmonds said: “This is not only about people taking notice, it’s about how to ensure chefs come through the education system that then want to work in pubs.
“The great thing about working in pubs is you can eventually end up running your own business. And if you’ve got that entrepreneurial skill it’s a great way to be cooking and doing what you want to do.”
The final dishes:
- Milan Hukal: pan-fried brill, razor clam and butternut squash gratin, fondant potatoes, an artichoke puree, with sprouting broccol, radishes and a drizzling of basil oil.
- Michele Cremona: duck livers on celeriac-and-potato mash, nutmeg wilted chard, orange-and-cardamom carrots, roasted radish and a tomato sauce.
- Gordon Jones: pan-fried brill with celeriac, artichoke and vanilla chowder, roasted root vegetables and purple sprouting broccoli.
- John Calton: pan-seared fillet of brill with scallops, a coriander-and-celeriac puree with a sherry vinegar glaze, mushrooms, celery and topped with mushroom crisps.
- Edward Hackland: pan-fried brill with orange Beurre blanc, tenderstem broccoli, beetroot and new potatoes.
- Robert Yuill: venison loin with candy beetroot poached in water, sugar and vinegar with baby potatoes and chard.
- Gordon Stott: pan-fried brill with artichoke puree, baby new potatoes, girolles, radishes and shellfish cream.
- Matt Long: roast guinea fowl with celeriac two ways, roast potatoes, wilted chard, hazelnuts and mushroom sauce.