On November 15th 2018, three talented ADS Chefs, together with their mentors, arrived at Nestlé’s Gatwick based HQ building to take part in the inaugural Side by Side Chef of the Year competition. The three finalists, Marie Middleton, Acting Head Chef from Kinloss Barracks, Emily Barden, Chef at New College at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Diego Mayoral, Sous Chef at St James’ Palace, had already impressed the regional judges with their initial, written submissions and then with their subsequent performances during the regional “cook off” heats held in October.
All competitors had to prepare, cook and serve an original, two course, fine dining menu, from scratch, in under three hours and impress the judges not only with dish flavour and presentation but also with their ability to manage time, their technical skill and their adherence to health and safety best practice.
Because the competition was generously sponsored by Nestlé, the competitors were also tasked with including selected ingredients from the Nestlé Professional range. Guest Judge, WO1(SSM) Colin Sinclair from Army HQ, Regional Command said, “The competition was very tight. All three chefs should be very proud of their achievements. Their menus looked and tasted incredible and they made great use of seasonal produce, but in the end, there has to be just one winner and on this occasion, that was Diego Mayoral.”
Diego prepared a main course which reflected the heritage of his native Basque country, featuring pigeon in a red wine jus with chestnut and chocolate purée and Madeira jelly and a contrasting dessert of light coconut and rum mousse presented in a crisp chocolate shell with lime gelée and almond praline.
All three finalists were presented with certificates, champagne and a set of professional chef’s knives by ADS’ MD, Neil Shroeder and Culinary Director, Mark Webber. In addition, courtesy of Nestlé, Diego will also get to enjoy hospitality at the O2 in London during a forthcoming concert or event.
Neil Shroeder praised all three chefs and said, “As I travel around our business, I am constantly impressed by the skill and dedication of our culinary teams. Since day one of our first HESTIA contract, we have built a reputation amongst our clients and customers for serving great food, not only at VIP functions but every day in the mess facilities. ADS set out to be famous in the defence sector for our food and with talent like yours, it’s easy to see how we can achieve that goal.
This is the first of many such competitions and I personally want to encourage more of our talented colleagues to challenge themselves and enter, both within ADS and in the wider catering arena.”