A SCOTTISH team has won the UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year competition for the first time, seeing off tough contenders from across the country.
Jamie Cracknell, 21, and Sagar Massey, 19, who are both studying for an HNC in professional cookery at West College Scotland, were crowned champions at the final, held at the Grimsby Institute on June 15.
They battled it out against eight other teams to produce a three-course menu using only sustainably sourced seafood.
Their menu of pickled herring with parsnip cream, radish and apple dashi; a new invention test dish using tiger prawns; and poached monkfish tail in an olive crumb with monkfish scampi impressed this year’s judges.
As well as taking home the UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year title and the competition trophy, Cracknell and Massey also received a Robot Cook Professional Heating Food Processor from Robot Coupe, £500 each and a £1,000 voucher for Russum’s catering equipment for the West College Scotland, and a culinary trip to Holland.
The champions will also have their winning recipes featured on the website of competition sponsor Seafish’s National Seafood Week, set to take place from October 5-12..
Cracknell said: ‘The competition was really tough and I’m so proud we were able to deliver in the final. I’d like to say a huge thanks to my tutor, Chris Watson, and to my friends and family for supporting us.’
Massey added: ‘This competition has really boosted my confidence in working with seafood. It’s been great to get some tips and tricks from the judges and I’m looking forward to cooking with seafood more in my future recipes.’
Nikki Hawkins, events manager at Seafish said: ‘This has to be the strongest finals ever, with judges debating for a long time. The skill sets and the dishes presented were outstanding, and a credit to all the lecturers involved this year.’
Paul Robinson, curriculum manager of hospitality at the Grimsby Institute, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see the next generation demonstrate such creativity and flair when working with seafood.
‘As well as enabling the young chefs to gain recognition for their hard work and talent, the competition also challenges them to think about how they can work sustainable varieties of seafood into their menus.
‘I look forward to seeing Jamie and Sagar take their next steps in the hospitality industry.’
Tributes were also paid to Matt Campbell, who died tragically at the London Marathon this year. He was the winner of the UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year in 2008 as a part of a team from Kendal College and went on to be a finalist in MasterChef: The Professionals in 2017.
As a tribute, Seafish and the Grimsby Institute held a charity auction at the competition finals with all proceeds going to the Brathay Trust, which Matt generously supported. The auction raised £1,600.
The UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year competition was founded in 1996 by tutors and industry specialists of the Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education’s Hospitality Department.
Picture: Sagar Massey, Galton Blackiston (owner of the Michelin starred Morston Hall restaurant in Norfolk and one of this year’s guest judges), and Jamie Cracknell