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Paul Foster, the Head Chef at Mallory Court Hotel in Leamington Spa, has been named runner-up in the largest and most prestigious chef competition in the UK.
Multi-award-winning Paul narrowly missed out on the Craft Guild of Chefs’ National Chef of the Year 2016 title in the most closely-fought final in the competition’s 45-year history.
He was one of just eight chefs from around the country to reach the final, which took place at The Restaurant Show at London’s Olympia on October 6. The title was won by Larry Jayasekara, Sous Chef at Gordon Ramsay Holdings. Third place went to Martin Carabott from The Royal Automobile Club.
The dishes were judged by a panel of some of Britain’s most accomplished chefs, which this year was chaired by Clare Smyth, Chef Patron at the three Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, and included Claude Bosi, Daniel Clifford, James Petrie, Sat Bains, Alyn Williams, Ben Tish and Stephen Terry.
The finalists were given just two hours to produce four covers consisting of a starter and main course using seafood and meat selected from a mystery basket. They also had to create a hot or cold dessert using chocolate and coffee.
Paul impressed with his starter of seared scallops and poached coley with dill dressing, shaved turnip and crispy sea purslane; a main of roast Aylesbury duck with blackberries, citrus crumb, crushed celeriac and umbles; and a dessert of chocolate and coffee delice, hazelnut cake and Greek yoghurt sorbet.
The National Chef of the Year is the UK’s most sought-after chef prize, with many winners going on to gain industry-wide recognition – among them Gordon Ramsay.
David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the competition, said: “The National Chef of the Year is a benchmark for chef talent in the UK and a career-enhancing challenge for anyone who takes part.
“Not only is the award highly respected but the competition process itself provides an unrivalled platform for testing your culinary skills to the max. The judges felt that the quality of all the finalists’ dishes had risen significantly and were extremely well executed. It was a much closer competition than in previous years.”
Clare Smyth added: “We knew that standards would be high this year and, while we’ve had some fantastic finals, I think this really was the best ever. The top three were really close.”
Mallory Court’s General Manager, Sarah Baker, said Paul richly deserved his award: “Paul is passionate about the food he presents and is a real inspiration to his team at Mallory Court. He’s a great talent and his enthusiasm and commitment are infectious.”
Paul, whose career has included periods at Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, joined Mallory Court as Head Chef in February 2014. He has appeared on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen and BBC Two’s Great British Menu, and has earned high praise from some of the industry’s most highly regarded food critics, including Observer reviewer and MasterChef critic Jay Rayner.
Mallory Court holds three Red Stars (the AA’s supreme accolade) and three AA dining rosettes and is one of the top 200 hotels in the country. A long-standing member of the revered Relais and Châteaux group, Mallory Court is part of the award-winning Eden Hotel Collection, the AA’s Small Hotel Group of the Year 2014 / 2015. For further information, go to www.mallory.co.uk. For more about the Eden Hotel Collection, visit www.edenhotelcollection.com
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