Young chef wins inaugural trout cooking contest
Talented young chef Alex Barnes has been crowned champion in the United Kingdom’s first Fjord To Fork Professional Chefs Development Competition, organized by the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) and Westminster Kingsway College.
The winning dish stunned judges including Michelin-starred chef and fjord trout ambassador Daniel Galmiche and the Craft Guild of Chefs for its attention to detail and skills to showcase the species with elegant simplicity. Part of the prize will see Barnes visit Norway to see, taste and learn about how and where the fish is produced.
“I’m overwhelmed and 100 percent excited to go to Norway to see and taste fjord trout at source,” he said. “Coming into the summer months, I was inspired to produce a dish with fresh, cleansing tastes to go with the fjord trout. The fish has a very delicate flavor, so for me it needed something like a salsa and mousse to lift the dish and make it nice and refreshing on the palate.”
The inaugural competition, held April and May with Westminster Kingsway College and the Craft Guild of Chefs tasked second-year students to design and cook with this sea-reared fish. It culminated in a live final held at Westminster Kingsway College.
Participants were tasked to design and produce a starter or main course dish showcasing the fish. This followed a briefing seminar led by Galmiche and chef lecturer Jose Souto on the provenance and sustainability of Norwegian fjord trout, and masterclasses on how to treat the fish with culinary respect and clever flavor combinations to take dishes to the next level.
Competition guidelines stated recipes should be for a brasserie-style menu that best showed the quality and versatility of the fish. Recipes were first shortlisted by a paper entry judging panel and from this 10 finalists were selected for the live cook-off final. In this final, competitors were given a maximum of two hours to create and present an original dish.
“Competitions aren’t easy. It was fantastic to see the students working with so many techniques and seasonal produce and I was amazed, for second years, for how well they did. Overall, they were not far away from each other in points – this was a very close competition,” said Galmiche.