Dion Jones with his mentor, Graham Tinsley
Wales has another world champion in young chef Dion Jones who beat rivals from around the globe to win the International Escoffier Challenge Grand Final in the South of France yesterday (Monday).
Jones, 24, from Valley, Anglesey, is the first Welsh chef ever to compete in the final of the world’s oldest culinary competition, after becoming UK champion last November. Canada was second and Thailand third.
A member of the Welsh National Culinary Team, he is the senior chef de partie at Carden Park Country Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa near Chester. Next challenge for Jones is to secure a place in the Welsh team for the Culinary Olympics in Germany in October.
He was in tears and lost for words when the result was announced at a grand presentation dinner for 250 guests at the Palais de Papes, Avignon last night.
“It was a big shock and I was very happy and emotional,” said Jones, who was accompanied by his mentor Graham Tinsley, executive chef at Carden Park and manager of the Welsh National Culinary Team and workmate Eteinne Lasielle, commis pastry chef, who acted as translator. “Having seen the Thai and Swiss platters, I thought I would get third place. All the food was stunning.
“My platter looked really clean going out and the meat was cooked perfectly. It couldn’t have gone any better. The pressure was unbelievable and the language barrier was hard work, but to come to France and beat the French at their own game is amazing.”
As part of his prize for winning the competition, he will spend a week at the Alain Ducasse cooking school.
Mr Tinsley was delighted with result and chuffed that Wales and Britain has a new world champion chef. “Having spoken to a couple of the judges, Dion was a worthy winner,” he said. “Some of the judges gave him full marks and everybody came up to congratulate him when the result was announced.
“This is a massive event in France, which is televised and we were told that he would be on the front page of the newspapers. It’s the first time that a British chef has won the competition and to win in France is an amazing achievement.
“We had a good balance of classical and modern on the platter, which kept the cuisine of Escoffier alive. I think that’s what helped Dion win. The platter looked visually striking and Dion concentrated on the flavours, which is a priority in France.”
Jones served up a compulsory dish of roasted shoulder of lamb provencale with stuffed artichokes cooked and presented in classical style. In addition, he cooked a pressed terrine of vegetables with a fennel biscuit and poached lamb fillet with lamb consomme.
The prestigious competition is organised by Association Culinaire Française, which promotes French culinary arts oversees.