Philip Dennis has sponsored the annual Chef of the Year competition since it began, nurturing the young talent in Devon at Petroc Colleges’ North Devon campus. The competition is open to all students on food-related courses and they’re challenged to create a main and dessert within two hours.
Mark Dodson, Michelin-starred chef of the Masons Arms in Knowstone, has held the position of head judge since the beginning, helping the students to develop their talent and often offering winners the opportunity to hone their skills alongside him at The Masons Arms. “This is a great opportunity for the students to practise working under pressure. In this industry, every day is a competition and every customer’s a judge”, said Mark. Alongside him on the judging panel was Thomas Carr, North Devon’s only other Michelin-starred chef, and Nigel Yeo, Director at Philip Dennis.
Emily Kelly was announced overall winner of Petrocs Chef of the Year 2018 and cooked a show-stopping main of pan-fried duck breast, duck leg bonbon, oriental spices, carrot and ginger puree and a five spiced potato fondant. Mark explained, “Emily was very consistent over both courses. The standard was the highest it’s ever been in the six years I’ve been judging this competition, so she was an incredibly worthy winner.”
Thomas agreed: “I was looking for a well-seasoned and balanced dish, with three simple elements, and Emily achieved this.”
With Nigel adding: “The students clearly demonstrated a high level of skill when it came to the preparation of the meat; it was clear they had been practising hard before the competition.”
Emily was delighted to be announced as the overall winner, “I’m so pleased with my performance today; I managed to complete everything on time and it all went to plan. I’m shocked but really happy.”
Nigel Yeo, Director at Philip Dennis explains why it means so much to be involved in the competition each year: “It provides unique ways for students to develop both culinary and personal skills in a testing environment. It allows for pressures of the industry to be understood and can offer a springboard to start their careers at an enviably high level. We feel exceptionally proud to share the responsibility of nurturing ambitions and supporting the talent of local students and the community.”