Young Chefs excel after Exmoor competition and new film launched

Exmoor Young Chef winners join Exmoor Food Fest media event (Photo: Jessica Davies) 

The top winners of the Exmoor Young Chef 2022 competition, captured in a new film released this week, have joined top professional chefs at high profile foodie events and are on course for a fine career in hospitality. In July, Perran Clark and Nathan Reardon, both 16 years old, impressed the judges with their three-course menus prepared under strict competition rules at West Somerset College, Minehead.

Competition judge Max Lawrence from Visit Exmoor has been 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 “The standard of cooking and the way these young chefs showcased Exmoor produce was exceptional. I’m sure all our winners will have a bright and rewarding career ahead of them. The tension and excitement of competition day has been captured beautifully in the new film which we hope will inspire other young cooks.”

The competition was organised by Katrina Munro of Exmoor National Park Authority, and Chefs Werner Hartholt from Butlins and Mollie Foster from Minehead Rotary Club who were both on hand to assist the seven young finalists in the kitchen. Werner said “These talented young chefs have been welcomed into the world of professional chefs. Perran appeared on the chef’s stage at the North Devon Food Fest alongside pro chef Dez Turland and Nathan appeared in a You Tube cooking video with chef Chin from Porlock. But the highlight for me was to see them working alongside all the professional chefs at the recent media launch of the Exmoor Food Fest at Knowle Manor. These opportunities are helping them to carve out a real name for themselves in the industry locally and I’m very much looking forward to following them in their chosen career paths and for them not only to be recognised locally but also nationally in the future, helping us to put Exmoor on the map!”

“The reason behind the competition and the film is to 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.” added Werner.

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. Chief Executive Officer Emma Thomasson said, “In recognition of the importance of hospitality to the Exmoor economy, we are connecting the talent and opportunities here for young people, and those looking for a second career, to build a network of partners to ensure that training, support, apprenticeships and work experience are well promoted and accessible to all.”

William Sitwell, food writer, restaurant critic, and broadcaster said “With partners in kitchens across Exmoor, in cafes, in colleges, on farms and in small businesses I believe we can shine a light on careers in this sector. Everyone is good at something, it’s just that they might now know it, or know how to make the best of it. Hospitality really is a business that can nurture both the quiet and the noisy talent. It takes all sorts, and it needs all sorts. I’m so happy and energised to support this vital initiative.”

The Exmoor Young Chef film, which will be distributed to schools and colleges in the coming week, can be viewed at alongside details and the option to register interest in future Exmoor Young Chef competitions and careers’ opportunities.

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