From Portsmouth to Hong Kong for Head Chef Luke Emmess
Fuller’s Chef of the Year was launched three years ago as an annual competition open to chefs from Fuller’s pubs, with the intention of celebrating and nurturing talent. This year the eight finalists for Chef of the Year were challenged to design a menu using pigeon for the starter, smoked cod for the main course, and pumpkin for pudding. They were teamed with a Service Coach, and an expert panel of 12 leading industry individuals, including Hampshire Fare’s Commercial Manager, Tracy Nash, judged the finalists on techniques, flavour, execution and service.
Luke’s winning menu included a starter of pan-roasted pigeon, crispy pigeon liver and walnut crumb with pigeon jus, and a main course of malt and barley smoked cod with Japanese seaweed gnocchi and Asian consommé. He has won an opportunity of a lifetime: a four-day placement in renowned Michelin-starred Chef Simon Rogan’s new restaurant in Hong Kong.
Another Hampshire chef, David Green of The White Hart, Stockbridge, secured Silver. Further successes for Hampshire included Joshua Hillyard, The Cams Mill, Fareham, winning Silver for Junior Chef of the Year.
In a new category, College Chef of the Year (open to full- and part-time students attending the colleges and universities that partner Fuller’s apprenticeship programme), Jonny Smith and Chloe Curry, both of Havant & South Downs College, won Gold and Silver respectively.
Service Coach of the Year, recognising excellence in front of house service, went to Niamh from The Ship Inn, Langstone, for her flawless, professional service, knowledge of ingredients and drink recommendations. Another Hampshire win in this category was Gemma McNair, The Bat & Ball, Clanfield, who took Bronze.
Fuller's Director of Food, Paul Dickinson, said: “I’m completely blown away by the talent of this year’s competitors. All the finalists exceeded my expectations with the skills, techniques and creativity used with the ingredients given to them, and the front of house service, which is integral to everything we do, raised the bar this year.
“With the introduction of College Chef of the Year, I wanted to inspire and give insight to future talent, showing that they can have a creative career as a chef at Fuller’s. The students displayed the skills, knowledge, passion and self-confidence of experienced chefs.”