A young chef from Horsham has cooked up a winning menu and beat chefs from all over the country to become the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs GB Young Chef of the Year 2019.
Jordon Powell, 20, Chef de Partie at South Lodge Hotel, clinched first place in the prestigious awards despite being one of the youngest in the competition - and he will now have a chance of international glory later in the year in Canada when he competes against the title holders from many other countries.
The winning line-up was announced at a glittering ceremony at the Dorchester in Park Lane, London, on Friday March 22 and attended by many well-known names in Hospitality including chef judges Daniel Galmiche, Paul Wright, Daniel Ayton and Ben Purton.
Jordon said: “This is a fantastic result as I was up against very stiff competition.
“But chef contests have always been an important part in my career. I love them, and am very excited to be going to Canada in September, to represent Great Britain.
“It won’t be a holiday, so I intend to take every opportunity offered between now and then to learn and train.
“I am very grateful for the support and encouragement of not only South Lodge’s Head Chef Lewis Hamblet, but also my Westminster College tutor Chris Basten.”
Testing their creativity and practical talent, the GB chef finalists were asked to cook a three-course meal for four in three and a half hours, using compulsory ingredients notified beforehand, and enhanced by a ‘mystery box’ opened at the start of the cook-off in the kitchens of Unilever House, Leatherhead.
Each dish was then judged against strict criteria of taste, presentation and originality.
Philip Evins, Bailli Délégué for the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs said: “The young talent that we have in the UK has never been stronger and we believe it vital to support and develop skills and techniques that help us ‘futureproof’ the Hospitality Industry as consumers look for new inspiration and experiences.
“The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs’ Young Chef Competition was developed to support rising young stars and give them a platform to showcase their skill and passion for the industry.
“However, it also goes beyond this; it gives them the chance to compete against their international peers – a hugely beneficial learning experience that will help allow them to maintain a profile on a global stage throughout their career and support their broader development.”
South Lodge has an impressive record in this competition, having produced not one but two winners of the Young Chef of the Year title in the past five years – 2014’s Ricky Weston, now Sous Chef at Whatley Manor in Wiltshire and Jordan Kerridge in 2016, about to rejoin The Stafford in London.
South Lodge general manager David Connell said: “In order to keep on bringing talent to our kitchens, we believe it is better to train our own from a young age, and in Lewis Hamblet we have a dedicated and experienced mentor.”
Jordon Powell is a case in point. A local Horsham lad, he started as a ‘Saturday boy’ at South Lodge at the age of 12, where working along talented chefs at 15 he was inspired to become an apprentice at Westminster Kingsway College.
He returned to South Lodge on graduating, and after short spells in other kitchens to gain experience and became Chef de Partie last year.
He said: “I’m happiest here ‘at home’, though my ambition is to own my own restaurant one day – no doubt in Sussex.”
As the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs GB Young Chef of the Year 2019, Jordon now goes forward to represent Great Britain in the organisation’s international finals taking place in Calgary, Canada, from September 17 to 22.
To help him prepare, he gets a stage at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, work experience at Anton Mosimann’s prestigious London club, and a week in one of Holland’s top Michelin starred hotels, De Bloemenbeek.
Vic Laws MBE, who runs the competition on behalf of Chaine GB, concluded: “I would like to congratulate all three finalists on their fantastic achievements so far as each one has demonstrated impressive technical ability and creativity.”
Jordon’s winning menu:
Cured trout, mint mayonnaise, burnt onion, pickled beetroot, celery
Roast flank steak, seared ox liver, pommes puree, sweetcorn, blanquette sauce
Lemon & vanilla posset, poached pineapple, candied almonds and thyme