A Sodexo Government Services chef rose above 700 colleagues to be judged overall winner of the annual Salon Culinaire at Ascot Racecourse.

Phil Clark, second chef at Sodexo’s Allenby and Connaught, Warminster Garrison contract, won Best in Show for his Asian fish dumplings served with braised rice and pak choi entry in the Innovative Street Food Challenge category.

Sodexo Corporate Services chef Istvan Jones received the title of Apprentice Chef of the Year. Based at Sodexo’s contract with Santander in Glasgow, Istvan qualified as a chef three months ago and is studying an NVQ level 3.

Istvan prepared and cooked two starters in the live cook off at the show. His winning starters were beetroot cannelloni and Hungarian tomato tart, the latter inspired by his country of origin.

Veronica Palacios from Sodexo’s Dublin General Post Office contract won the National Barista Challenge.

In addition to 700 competitors taking part in a range of live and static classes, more than 100 suppliers including Graze and Joe & Seph’s popcorn exhibited at the event, which for the first time was held in the Grandstand at Ascot.

Live chef demonstrations included celebrity chefs Adam Handling of The Frog E1 and James Tanner of the Kentish Hare, and the Craft Guild of Chefs’ National Young Chef of the Year, Ruth Hansom.

On Tuesday night (26 September), the annual team challenge saw seven teams of three chefs from across Sodexo prepare each part of a seven-course dinner for 120 colleagues, clients and partners in the Ascot Parade Ring Restaurant.

The Independents by Sodexo team won the culinary team challenge for their dessert course with the Sodexo Airline Lounge team winning the front of house challenge.

Sean Haley, Sodexo UK & Ireland regional chair, said: “Salon Culinaire proves Sodexo does food in abundance and everyone here has excelled. We're very lucky to have some of the best talent in the industry. Food is at our heart. We're passionate about it and our food continues to delight our customers.”

David Mulcahy, Sodexo UK & Ireland food innovation director, said: “Well done to Phil, Istvan, Veronia and all the competitors who took part. Salon Culinaire is an annual celebration of food excellence and craft development and shows Sodexo is a great place to build your career as a chef with plenty of training and development opportunities.

“A huge thank you goes to the suppliers, celebrity chefs, industry judges, competitors, visitors and sponsors who made this year’s Salon Culinaire yet another success.”

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