The Welsh National Culinary Team has selected one of its strongest ever squads for the Culinary Olympics in Germany in October.
The chefs are now busy practicing for the prestigious culinary event in Erfurt from October 19-22, where they are determined to improve on the disappointing bronze medals the team won four years ago.
Having been narrowly defeated by double Culinary Olympic champions Sweden in the Battle for the Dragon contest at the Welsh International Culinary Championships in February, the team will travel to Germany in confident mood.
Manager Graham Tinsley, co-owner of the Castle Hotel, Conwy and Nant Hall, Prestatyn, and team captain Wayne Roberts, joint head chef at the Imperial Hotel, Llandudno, have gone for a blend of experience and youth in their team selection.
The other team members are Dave Kelman, of Lower Slaughter Manor, Stow-on-the-Wold, Toby Beevers of Inventive Leisure, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lee Jeynes, group development chef for English Lake Hotels, Karl Jones-Hughes, chef partner of The Bridge, Coxlake, Narberth and Gennaro Adaggio of La Dolce Vita, Shrewsbury.
The other squad members are Sally Owens, Coleg Llandrillo Cymru, Rhos on Sea, Gareth Dwyer, of Hobart UK, Chris Owen, of The Castle Hotel, Conwy, Tom Middleton, of Hotel Maes-y-neuadd, Talsarnau, Harlech, Kevin Williams of Coleg Meirion Dywfor, Dolgellau and Mark Jones of Henbury Hall, Macclesfield.
Former team captain Jeynes, pastry chef Jones-Hughes and Dwyer return to the squad, whilst talented young chefs Owen and Middleton are also rewarded for their success in competitions. Owen, 21, the reigning junior national chef of Wales, recently won a bronze medal in the in the Hans Bueschken's World Junior Chefs' Challenge in Dubai, whilst Middleton won the UK WorldSkills Competition intermediate cooking contest.
The Culinary Olympics has two competition elements - hot kitchen and cold platter show. The Welsh chefs go into the hot kitchen, where they will be required to produce 110 covers of a three-course meal, on October 19.
They then complete the competition with the cold platter show on October 21, creating a range dishes including appetizers, main courses, complete menus, desserts, cakes and showpieces for a table display.
"I think it's one of the strongest squads we have selected for many years, with a nice blend of experience and youth," said Tinsley, who is allowed to compete with the team in the hot kitchen this time. "It's good to have experienced chefs Lee, Karl and Gareth back.
"We were very disappointed to receive bronze medals four years ago and it's not beyond this team to win gold in the hot kitchen this time. I would be very pleased with a gold and silver."
The Welsh National Culinary Team is sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government, C&C Catering Equipment Ltd, Brakes, Unilever Foodsolutions UK, Catering Engineers (N.W.) Ltd, Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales, Gourmet Classic Ltd, Villeroy and Boch, Friedr. Dick, Germany, Metcalfe Catering and All Clad.