Last week, Compass Group UK and Ireland held its annual Compass Chef of the Year competition to celebrate its chefs. Despite operating a COVID safe format the competition remained as fierce as ever and the quality of food outstanding. Peter German from Restaurant Associates walked away as the 2020 Compass Senior Chef of the Year with his main of Hay and Juniper Smoked Chicken Crown, Salt Baked Celeriac, Girolles and Leek Cep Jus; while Izabela Ginter of ESS Offshore, impressed with her Duo of Pan Roasted Corn Fed Chicken served with Seared Tomato Centred with Wild Mushroom, Jerusalem Artichoke and Fig Purée to take the title of Compass Young Chef of the Year.
Twelve chefs from across the business pitted their skills against one another in the two high-profile competitions held at West Herts College in Watford at the end of October. The senior competitors had two hours to complete three courses using seasonal produce – a vegetarian or vegan starter, a British chicken-based main and an autumnal dessert. The young chefs had 90 minutes and also had to prepare a British chicken-based main and a dessert, both incorporating seasonal ingredients.
After months of preparation, hard work and determination the chefs plated up their dishes and the decision was down to the esteemed judges – Craft Guild of Chefs National Vice Chairman – Matt Owens; Head of Pastry at Piglets Pantry, Ana Paula Oliver; and Andrew Wakeford, Head of School for Food Academy, Restaurant Services and Hospitality at West Herts College.
Peter German’s winning menu in the senior competition was inspired by the sanctuary of his allotment. Peter has been with Restaurant Associates for seven years and has recently been promoted to Hospitality Head Chef, responsible for overseeing the very best of fine dining at an investment company in the City.
He wowed the judges with his flavour combinations as he served up a starter of Red Kuri Squash, Kohlrabi and Burnt Pear Purée, Turnip Sauerkraut and Celery; his main was Hay and Juniper Smoked Chicken Crown, Salt Baked Celeriac, Girolles and Leek Cep Jus; rounded off with a Green Apple Parfait, Dill Meringue, Cider Apple Granita and Goat’s Yogurt.
Peter German, Hospitality Head Chef, Restaurant Associates said of his win: “I was completely shocked, but it was a very welcome shock, and I couldn’t be happier to have won Compass Chef of the Year! Spending time in my allotment with my fiancé over lockdown gave me time to experiment with different types of produce and I spent a lot of time in my kitchen enhancing flavours. This whole experience has without a doubt made me a better chef.”
ESS Defence’s Simon Coulter came second in the senior competition and previous contestant David Bryant from Eurest took third place this year.
Compass Young Chef of the Year saw Levy UK chef, Marek Sobczak, from The All England Tennis Club win Bronze and previous Compass Apprentice Chef of the Year winner, Sophie White from Chartwells Independent’s Christ’s Hospital School in Horsham take home silver.
Izabela Ginter stole the show with her Duo of Pan Roasted Corn Fed Chicken served with Seared Tomato Centred with Wild Mushroom, Jerusalem Artichoke and Fig Purée; followed by an Orange Infused Belgium Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Nut Tart, Dundee Marmalade Steam Pudding with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Chocolate and Pistachio Soil.
Izabela has come through an apprenticeship programme with Compass and has had a successful year, previously winning awards at this year’s Salon Culinaire back in March.
Compass Group UK and Ireland MD, Robin Mills, announced the 2020 Compass Chef of the Year and had this to say about the event: “Brilliantly well done to all our chefs across both competitions, I know that getting to this final is an experience, and all of our chefs have taken something from the competition which will make them better chefs in our kitchens. It’s always great to see brilliant food and such expertise on show – congratulations to Peter and Izabela for taking home the 2020 titles!
“I’m really pleased we were able to make Compass Chef of the Year happen and my thanks to our teams for all their work putting such a great event together, ensuring the highest of safety standards were in place.”
Nick Vadis, Compass Group UK and Ireland Culinary Director adds: “The standard was incredibly high again and I’m extremely proud of all our chefs for preparing in the right way, working through adversity and competing under strange conditions.
“Our chefs continue to surprise me with their flavour combinations, new techniques and cooking methods, we truly are blessed to have such passionate people at Compass. Well done to everyone who took part, not only in the finals, but in the heats, which took place throughout the sectors.”
Both winners will enjoy an educational trip to New York in 2021, where they will take in the city on a memorable food tour, dining at the three Michelin Star Eleven Maddison Park restaurant, as well as the famous street food stalls in Brooklyn.
Compass Apprentice Chef of the Year, which used to be part of the Compass Chef of the Year competition, has been revised and will be held during National Apprenticeship Week – 8th-14th February 2021. This will also enable a larger number of apprentice chefs to take part in the competition.