The victorious Welsh team with the Dragon Trophy.
Welsh chefs have emerged victorious from the annual Battle for the Dragon contest after seeing off the challenge of highly rated visitors Switzerland and Finland.
Both the Welsh National Culinary Team and Switzerland were awarded silver medals, but the host nation just edged it on points after a closely contested battle. Finland, giving a debut to a completely new team, were awarded bronze medals by the panel of international judges.
The Dragon Trophy was presented to the victorious Welsh team by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Presiding Officer Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas, AM for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, at a presentation dinner held at the St Tudno Hotel, Llandudno.
It is only the second time in six years that Wales, who won gold and silver medals at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg last November, has won the contest. Team manager Graham Tinsley, executive chef at Carden Park Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa near Chester and a director of the Castle Hotel, Conwy, was understandably delighted.
“If you had asked me before the competition, I would probably have said we had no chance of winning against this calibre of opposition,” he confessed. “That was the doubt in all our minds because of the reputation that these two countries brought with them.
“But after competing on Wednesday, we knew we had put out a good meal with lots of flavour. We are all good cooks. The feedback from the judges was positive about the dishes, the service and the teamwork and they liked the fact that we had brought a couple of juniors into the team.
“It’s only by competing against the very best that we will improve and we are delighted to have won.”
Joining Tinsley in the Welsh team were Toby Beevers, executive chef at Chester University, Nick Davies, a director of Cambrian Training Company, Welshpool, Chris Owen, Castle Hotel, Conwy, Dion Jones from Carden Park Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa and Sally Owen, Coleg Llandrillo Cymru.
The competition was one of the showpiece events at the three-day the Welsh International Culinary Championships at Coleg Llandrillo Cymru, Rhos on Sea, which are organised by the Welsh Culinary Association and sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government and Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales.
Finland were first in the kitchen on Tuesday, cooking a main course of Welsh Lamb, the Welsh National Culinary Team cooked Welsh Pork on Wednesday and Switzerland included Welsh Beef in their main course on Thursday. The three luncheons were all sold out.
Each team was challenged to cook a three-course meal for 80 people under the watchful eyes of a panel of experienced international judges. Finland cooked a main course using Welsh Lamb, the Welsh National Culinary Team cooked Welsh Pork and Switzerland included Welsh Beef in their main course. The three luncheons had been sold out since the turn of the year.
The Welsh National Culinary Team served up a starter of roulade of lemon sole and scallop, salmon fillet with crabmeat, vegetable and golden raisin salsa, samphire cress, parsley and crème fraiche dressing. Main course was roast fillet and braised cheek of Welsh Pork, butter braised potato, cabbage casserole, vegetables a la Grecque, butternut squash and orange puree and a truffle port jus. Dessert was 33% Belgian milk chocolate mocha mousse, raspberry, chocolate, pistachio and coffee layer cake, warm raspberry and Sauternes jelly.
Finland cooked a starter of lightly smoked salmon, salmon mousseline, marinated fennel, tomato terrine, cucumber and shrimp salad, roasted tomato sauce. Main course was roast Welsh Lamb, star anise glazed pressed lamb shoulder with root vegetables, Nordic potato and cep mushroom, cider-celeriac puree and dark dill sauce. Dessert was financiere with apple jam, caramelised apple, goat yoghurt ice cream, hazelnut crocant, lingonberry fluid gelee, chocolate biscuit and apple mousse.
Switzerland cooked a starter of gently cooked cod with Mediterranean heart prawns delicatessen with pineapple delicate spring salad and lemon essence. Main course is duet of Welsh Beef with goose liver Swiss potato and vegetables harmony and dessert is cherries Semifreddo and pear mousse, yeast-risen pastry with chocolate pear salad.