This spring marked the start of a new and exciting in-house competition for all chefs who work at the University of Edinburgh. The ‘Chefs Challenge’ was launched to provide opportunities for chefs of all levels, from Commis Chef through to Sous Chef, to compete in a controlled environment against their peers. 

Ian Macaulay, Assistant Director (Catering), says “For a number of years we have been looking to run this competition and it will now become an annual event. We recognise chefs of all levels can be a little daunted competing in open competition at the main trade shows/events and this provides the opportunity to build confidence as well as healthy competition between colleagues. In addition, it will enable us to identify future training needs where required as part of staff development”. 

The competition takes the form of two heats. Heat one requires all chefs to produce an omelette, but not quite in the timed style of the BBC Saturday Kitchen Omelette Challenge, that is  judged on one that is free of shell, has all butter melted and ideally for the egg to be cooked! Four successful chefs then progress to heat two and have to produce a base risotto; then each chef is provided with a wide larder of further ingredients to develop this into their signature dish.

Our congratulations go to the first ever winner of the ‘University Chefs Challenge’, Commis Chef Euan Carter, who produced an excellent dish of risotto with crab, chilli and coriander. Euan is now able to say he is the University Chef for 2016 having competed against thirty eight other chefs to reach the final and win the Challenge trophy and a set of high-quality ‘Global’ knives. 

On learning of his success Euan said “I am very surprised as I have only been at the University for a month, so to get the opportunity to compete and win and be awarded the trophy is fantastic.” Runners-up were Steven Archer, Sylvia O’Dea and Jennifer Selfridge.

In organising such competitions, we rely on partners and are very grateful for full sponsorship from Bidvest Foodservice for the trophy, which will be awarded each year, as well as for providing prizes for the winner and runners-up. In addition, it was great to have specialist judges from outside the University sector to provide a different outlook. This year’s judges were Andy Benn, Food Development Manager for Bidvest Foodservice and Ian MacDonald, Executive Chef, St Andrews Links Trust and President of Federation, Chefs Scotland. This is the first time that Ian has worked with the University sector and he was “really impressed by the standards shown by all competitors. They were nervous but really enjoyed it, and our job to choose the top four for the final was no easy task so well done Euan. It was great to be part of the first year of this annual competition and I wish the University every success as it progresses.”

Images from the final