A former apprentice chef was named Young Chef of the Year at Sodexo Salon Culinaire 2015.

Commis chef Liam Pope, 19, won the competition at Sodexo’s annual Salon Culinaire, the second largest salon in the country and Sodexo’s biggest yet.

More than 900 employees entered a range of static and live competitions, and visitors to the event held at Ascot Racecourse were treated to live culinary demonstrations from industry experts, a street food village and the latest products from around 70 suppliers large and small.

Liam Pope joined the Sodexo team at Licensed Victuallers School Ascot as an apprentice chef. He becomes the second LVS Ascot employee in as many years to win Sodexo Young Chef of the Year – 12 months ago pastry chef Kat Barnes won the contest.

Kirsty Rafferty, barista at Sodexo’s Scottish Parliament contract, beat nine finalists on the day to win the National Barista Challenge.

Sodexo ambassador Matt Dawson and celebrity chef James Tanner, who is a consultant chef to Independents by Sodexo, gave a health and wellbeing talk to young people from six of Sodexo’s school clients who were invited along to the event.

As part of the programme throughout the day, Springboard FutureChef winner Tom Hamblet joined his father Lewis, executive chef at the South Lodge Hotel, to give a live culinary demonstration on stage.

David Mulcahy, Sodexo culinary director and Salon Culinaire organiser, said: “Congratulations to Liam and well done to all the competitors who took part in what was our biggest Salon Culinaire yet with more than 900 employees entering competitions.

“Training and development of our chefs, and bringing the best out of our people are at the heart of Sodexo’s values. The Salon Culinaire is also a great way for our people to engage with suppliers, industry experts and share the latest trends and innovation across the business so our clients get the best service.”

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