Hospitality chef Adam Smith has been crowned Sodexo Chef of the Year 2023 following a live cook-off at Hotel, Restaurant, and Catering (HRC) event held at ExCel London.
Adam, a hospitality chef for Independents by Sodexo, the private education divsion, competed in the final of the annual competition, which saw eight of Sodexo’s finest chefs go head to head in a nail-biting 90 minute live cook-off final.
The competition once again concentrated on sustainable eating with chefs tasked to create three dishes each with a different criteria: one vegetarian/vegan dish using two or more ingredients from Future 50 Foods; a main dish comprising British/Irish chicken suitable for a chef’s special or brasserie style, and a classic fruit crumble with a twist using fresh rhubarb.
The chefs we also tasked with creating their dishes with the minimal amount of food wasted.
Adam’s winning dishes were:
• Hawaij spiced cauliflower, pickled red cabbage, red lentil dahl, smoked paprika onion fritter
• Beer-glazed chicken breast, confit onion chicken ragu, smoked garlic mash, sweetcorn puree, charred hispi cabbage
• Custard tart, rhubarb compote, caramelised white chocolate crumble, rhubarb sorbet
Adam’s prize includes an all expenses trip to Venice courtesy of sponsor UNOX and an exclusive fine dining experience in London courtesy of sponsor Lockhart.
The two runner-ups were Anthony Dye and Ashley Bax, both chefs in Sodexo’s Corporate Services business. Ashley was also awarded the safety award for demonstrating safe working practices.
In preparation for the event, finalists attended a mentor day where the team of judges got a first look at the finalists’ dishes and provided constructive feedback for the finalists to take away and use for the live cook off. The day is a great chance for competitors to practice and familiarise themselves with the logistics and equipment required as well as working in a kitchen they're not used to.
The competition judges included top culinary names: Steve Scuffell; Martyn Nail; Henry Bosi; Adam Smith (Coworth Park, Ascot); Paul Gayler; Yolanda Stanley and Sarah Hartnett.
The other finalists were:
• David Barnett, Schools & Universities, Scotland
• Jessie Thomas, Corporate Services
• Ross Hamilton, Government, Scotland
• Colin Smith, Sodexo Live!
• Gordon Carberry, Corporate Services
All eight finalists received a year’s membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs in addition to a special finalists’ chef jacket and certificate.
David Mulcahy, Food Innovation & Sustainability Director at Sodexo UK and Ireland, said, “Every year our chefs put their all into the competition and we want to thank them all for the time and effort they took to enter. Judging all the entries is always difficult when you have such a high calibre of chefs across the business. The eight finalists did exceptionally well to reach the final and they all excelled on the day.
“The pressure of a live cook off at an industry event where they have to perform at their best in front of not only some highly skilled and successful chef judges but in front of their peers too is something that will put them in good stead for future competitions as well as their day-to-day jobs. We are proud of all our finalists but huge congratulations to Adam for taking the title of Sodexo of the Year 2023.”
The Sodexo Chef of the Year 2023 competition was kindly supported by UNOX, Lockhart and the Craft Guild of Chefs.