Sodexo team scoops Hotelympia gold & Sodexo Chef of the Year announced

A Sodexo culinary team won gold at Hotelympia in extraordinary circumstances in the La Parade des Chefs competition this week.

Adverse weather meant the Scotland culinary team was unable to attend, so at short notice Sodexo drafted in another five chefs to support the six-strong team and serve double the number of covers at the ExCeL event.

Captained by Sodexo Schools & Universities food innovation director Tom Allen, the team served 200 three-course menus to earn gold from judges.

Meanwhile, Adam Collison from Sodexo Corporate Services won Sodexo Chef of the Year on the live stage. A hospitality chef at Sodexo’s Astra Zeneca contract, Collinson was awarded silver, ‘best in class’ by a select panel of judges including Adam Handling, Cyrus Todiwala, Russell Bateman and Alyn Williams.

Nicholas Reid, Sodexo Corporate Services executive chef at Almac in Northern Ireland, was runner up, also getting silver.

Collison and Reid were among nine chefs from across Sodexo UK & Ireland taking part in the contest. Collison’s first prize will be a culinary trip to the Portuguese capital Lisbon provided by sponsors Leathams.

Tom Allen, Sodexo Schools & Universities food innovation director and La Parade des Chefs Sodexo team captain, said, “I got a call on Saturday asking if we could serve another 100 covers as the Scottish national team couldn’t make it. I phoned around, pulled in a couple of favours, and by 11pm that night we had another five chefs. On Sunday, I started calling suppliers to get additional ingredients.

“We met up on Monday and started the preparation. I was very clear with the team we would approach the event in the spirit of the competition and restrict preparation beforehand, so after a briefing yesterday morning we set split the team into two, in one kitchen preparing starters and desserts, and main courses in the other.

“The judges were excellent and treated the service like they would normally, tasting according to the rules and taking random dishes from the pass. Of course we’re pleased to get gold, but we’re most pleased to have offered the fine dining experience all the diners expected.”

Adam Collison, hospitality chef, Sodexo Corporate Services, and Sodexo Chef of the Year winner, said: “I was a finalist in 2014, 2015 and 2016, but never placed before. This year I just felt much calmer and more composed because I’d been there three times before.

'My planning was much better all-round too – I labelled every single pan to avoid bringing unnecessary things into the kitchen with me. I knew if there was an item left on the tray then I meant I hadn’t executed the dishes exactly to plan.”

Collison’s winning menu
Starter – Goat’s cheese, beetroot cannelloni, pistachio & rye crumb, walnut & honey dressing,
Main course – Roast fillet of hake, curried cauliflower, sultana & caper puree, onion bhaji, coriander yoghurt
Dessert – of lime sponge, lemon & lime posset, charred orange segments, lime curd & citrus crisp

David Mulcahy, Sodexo food development director, said, “Congratulations to Adam on winning Sodexo Chef of the Year. He showed tremendous nerve under pressure to deliver an excellent menu to our team of judges.

“What a turnout from our La Parade des Chefs team too, doubling their numbers at short notice to ensure diners could enjoy a three-course meal that was literally gold standard! A superb effort from the original team and the additional chefs brought in to cover.”

La Parade des Chefs team
Tom Allen, Sodexo Schools & Universities
Tom Beauchamp, Sodexo Sports & Leisure
Louisa Tinkler, Sodexo Schools & Universities
Andy Voice, Sodexo Schools & Universities
Mark Wetherill, Sodexo Schools & Universities
Steven Wylie, Sodexo Schools & Universities

Called in to support at short notice
Lea Eastman-Thomson, Sodexo Schools & Universities
Robin Turner, Sodexo Service Operations
Ben Dutson, Sodexo Sports & Leisure
Stuart Bowman, Sodexo Corporate Services
Will Tinkler, Sodexo Schools & Universities

Starter – Potato and hen’s egg ravioli, girolle, truffle and wild garlic
Main course – Ways of Herdwick Hogget, aubergine, yoghurt and shallot
Dessert – ‘Apple’ and rhubarb

Sodexo Chef of the Year finalists
Adam Collison, Sodexo Corporate Services – silver, best in class
Nicholas Reid, Sodexo Corporate Services, Ireland – silver, runner up
Andy Clarkson, Sodexo Defence and Government Services
David Moorhouse, Sodexo Healthcare
Tom Allen, Sodexo Schools & Universities
Mathew Shipley, Sodexo Sports & Leisure
Ilir Zajsi, Sodexo Sports & Leisure
Nikola Plhakova, Sodexo Sports & Leisure
Kwasi Duah, Sodexo Corporate Services