It was another successful year for chefs and non-chefs alike at this year’s Sodexo Salon Culinaire which saw 650 employees take part in the day’s activities.

The event, which took place at one of Sodexo’s most prestigious contracts, Ascot Racecourse, saw chefs and non-chefs of all abilities and from across the business, take part in live and static competitions and enjoy a range of master classes and live demonstrations. Around 1,000 guests attended the event.

A supplier exhibition, open to visitors and competitors, also featured, while demonstrations took place from top industry names including celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwala, chef patron of the award-winning restaurant, Café Spice Namaste, and Reggae Reggae Sauce creator Levi Roots, who were there to help competing chefs and visitors develop their knowledge and learn tricks of the trade.

The Sodexo Young Chef of the Year final also took place, with first place going to Ross McMillan who works as junior chef de partie at the Stirling Management Centre in Scotland. The Best in Show Live Display went to Steven Wylie, executive chef at Licensed Victuallers’ School, while the Judges Award for Innovation went to Jackie Cheetham, a retail manager for Sodexo’s Corporate Services IFM division, for her original way of presenting traybake.

Lorraine Thomas, account manager at the National Construction College, took the top spot winning the Overall Best in Show Award for the level of skill, innovation and quality of work she displayed in her cupcake creativity.

New to this year’s competition was the Barista Challenge with 10 applicants battling it out to see who would be crowned the first ever National Barista of the Year. The winner, Annabelle Farago, who works for Sodexo’s Corporate Services IFM division, said the secret to a good coffee making is: “To enjoy your job and to smile.”

Business development manager, vending and hot beverages, Sodexo UK and Ireland, and organiser of the new competition, Kim Reeves, said: “We are delighted that Annabelle has won the first National Barista Challenge. The competition was very close and everyone performed exceedingly well. The competition tests baristas on a number of skills; not only their ability to make the different cups of coffee, but also their customer service skills."

This year Sodexo also held a Salon Culinaire in Scotland which had over 118 entries and one in Ireland which saw 206 employees take part.

David Mulcahy, craft and food development director, Sodexo UK and Ireland, said: “Competing is a great way to develop a chef’s skill set and I hope everyone who took part gained valuable experience, which will progress them in their career. This year’s Salon Culinaire saw a great deal of talent from across the business come forward to compete. Congratulations to everyone who took part in each of the culinaires across the UK and Ireland.”

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