Whipping Up A Culinary Storm

Once again Visit Exmoor are coming together with key partners across the area to highlight the exciting opportunities working in hospitality across the area.  Details of the Exmoor Young Chef 2023 competition have just been launched and passionate young cooks aged 12-16 years are being encouraged to apply.

The excitement of the inaugural Exmoor Young Chef competition last year was captured in a short film, and it is hoped that this footage will inspire young people in schools across Greater Exmoor to seek a place in the 2023 finals.

Professional chefs will be stirring up interest by visiting schools to talk to students about the competition and careers in hospitality. Applications will be judged by a panel and 10 finalists will be selected to represent two age groups: 12-14 and 15-16 years. Finalists in the 15-16 age group, will also be paired with a local chef to help them develop their menu and skills. Chef Mollie Foster, a member of Minehead Rotary Club who are a sponsor for the competition, will also be available to help younger finalists prepare for the competition.

Finalists will need to impress the judges with their three-course menu prepared under strict competition rules at West Somerset College, Minehead on Saturday 7thOctober2023.

The competition is a collaboration of partners including Rotary Club Minehead, Brend Hotels, Visit Exmoor, Exmoor National Park, Bridgewater & Taunton Colleges and Butlins amongst others.

Competition judge Max Lawrence from Visit Exmoor who is administering the competition this year has been working in the hospitality industry for over 30 years, often posing as a regular guest while secretly assessing restaurants and hotels for sought after awards. Max said, “We’ll be looking for passion for the area’s local produce and signs of developing kitchen skills.  The confidence young people gain by taking part in a competition like this is immeasurable and for the finalists it provides the opportunity to gain experience in the industry.”

Last year’s winner Perran Clark from Braunton, who is now working full time in the industry, was mentored by chef Carla Jones. Carla said, “Entering competitions is a way to challenge yourself personally and professionally. It enables you to be critiqued and take that feedback and learn from it. Not only do you get to meet new people within all sectors of the hospitality industry it opens up opportunities. You get to be creative and showcase your skills and ideas.”

Nathan Reardon, the 2022 runner-up said, “Taking part in the competition was a great experience. I learnt a lot about working in a professional kitchen and it really improved my confidence. I was given the opportunity to cook in a You Tube video with Exmoor Chef Chin from Ziangs at Porlock and I’ve worked alongside chefs at major events like when I cooked at Knowle Manor with Anita-Clare Field and Werner Hartholt. The competition also helped me get on a cooking course at Exeter college starting in September and without this competition I might not have achieved this.”

Katrina Munro, from Exmoor National Park Authority, said “The hospitality industry is a vital part of our rural economy, and it can provide an exciting and rewarding career path for anyone with a passion for food, cooking and great service. Through the competition, we can shine a light on local producers and kitchens where amazing food is being prepared every day for our residents and visitors. The competition and the film show these aspiring chefs how rewarding and creative a career can be in the hospitality industry on Exmoor. With the abundance of quality local produce and passionate local chefs, the food scene on Exmoor is exciting and vibrant.” 

Visit Exmoor are leading on a collaboration of industry experts across Exmoor, West Somerset, and the coast to create the Centre of Excellence for Hospitality. One active supporter of the initiative is Somerset-based food writer, restaurant critic, and broadcaster William Sitwell.

Chief Executive Officer Emma Thomasson said, “There are exciting and fulfilling career opportunities working in hospitality on Exmoor.  This a brilliant industry to work in with so many entry points and education opportunities.  We are passionate about connecting the talent and opportunities here for young people, and those looking for a second career with our brilliant Exmoor kitchens; in hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafes across the area. We have built a network of partners to ensure that training, support, apprenticeships and work experience are well promoted and accessible to all.”

The Exmoor Young Chef film, which will be distributed again to schools and colleges in the coming weeks, can be viewed at  www.visit-exmoor.co.uk/business-hub/centre-of-excellence/events alongside full details of the 2023 Exmoor Young Chef competitions and how budding chefs can enter.   School visits by professional chefs involved in the competition will be taking place across the area after the Easter break, if your school would like a visit please use the email below. The closing dates for applications is 21stJuly 2023.

Any enquiries should be sent to projects@visit-exmoor.co.uk or contact Max Lawrence on 07860 135271.

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