WORLD champion chef Dion Jones is back in the kitchen at De Vere Carden Park Hotel, near Chester, after beating rivals from around the globe to win the International Escoffier Challenge Grand Final in the South of France.
Dion, 24, senior chef de partie at Carden Park and a member of the Welsh National Culinary Team, was the first British chef to win the world’s oldest culinary competition. Chefs from Canada and Thailand were second and third.
Back behind the chefs’ pass at De Vere Carden Park today (Thursday) and celebrating with colleagues, he recreated the gourmet platter that earned him the top prize
Dion was in tears and lost for words when the result was announced at a grand presentation dinner for 250 guests at the Palais de Papes, Avignon earlier this week.
“It was a big shock and I was very happy and emotional,” said Dion, who was accompanied by his mentor Graham Tinsley, executive head chef at De Vere Carden Park and manager of the Welsh National Culinary Team, and workmate Eteinne Lasielle, commis pastry chef, who acted as translator.
“Having seen the Thai and Swiss platters, I thought I would get third place. All the food was stunning.
“My platter looked really clean going out and the meat was cooked perfectly. It couldn’t have gone any better. The pressure was unbelievable and the language barrier was hard work, but to come to France and beat the French at their own game is amazing.”
As part of his prize for winning the competition, he will spend a week at the Alain Ducasse cooking school.
Dion, from Anglesey, has previously been named the 2010 Young Chef of the Year in the Chester Food and Drink awards and De Vere Young Talented Chef 2010. After initially working at Carden Park as a trainee chef, Dion returned to the hotel three years ago as a chef de partie.
He qualified for the International Escoffier Challenge Grand Final after becoming UK champion last November.
Graham Tinsley was delighted with the result and chuffed that Britain has a new world champion chef. “Having spoken to a couple of the judges, Dion was a worthy winner,” he said. “Some of the judges gave him full marks and everybody came up to congratulate him when the result was announced.
“This is a massive event in France, which is televised and we were told that he would be on the front page of the newspapers. It’s the first time that a British chef has won the competition and to win in France is an amazing achievement.
“We had a good balance of classical and modern on the platter, which kept the cuisine of Escoffier alive. I think that’s what helped Dion win. The platter looked visually striking and Dion concentrated on the flavours, which is a priority in France.”
Jones served up a compulsory dish of roasted shoulder of lamb provencale with stuffed artichokes cooked and presented in classical style. In addition, he cooked a pressed terrine of vegetables with a fennel biscuit and poached lamb fillet with lamb consomme.
The prestigious competition is organised by Association Culinaire Française, which promotes French culinary arts oversees.
Next challenge for Jones is to secure a place in the Welsh team for the Culinary Olympics in Germany in October.
Lovers of good food wishing to sample dishes prepared by Dion and the Carden Park team can do so in the hotel’s AA Rosette award winning Redmond’s Restaurant. To make a reservation call 01829 731000 or visit www.cardenpark.co.uk.
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