Rhian, Yuliia and Callum win Commis Chef of the Year medals

March 18, 2024 - 440 views

Coleg Llandrillo students Rhian James, Yuliia Batrak and Callum Hagan all won medals at the ACF Northwest Commis Chef of the Year competitions.

Rhian won gold in both restaurant service competitions (flambe and specialist coffee making, and table layup and napkin-folding).

Yuliia won gold in the Commis Chef of the Year category, and Callum took bronze in the Pastry Commis Chef of the Year.

The ACF (Association Culinaire Française) Northwest Commis Chef of the Year Competitions 2024 were held at The City of Liverpool College.

The event attracted around 30 entries from across Liverpool, Manchester, Wigan, Warrington, Cheshire and North Wales.

Rhian, who studies Level 3 Professional Food and Beverage Service Supervision, won gold at the event for the second successive year.

Yuliia, who studies Level 2 Food and Beverage Service, was competing in a cooking category for the first time this academic year, having recently focused on front-of-house competitions including winning the Restaurant Service category in last year’s WorldSkills UK final.

The ACF competitions test budding chefs on their ability to create classic dishes, and Yuliia impressed judges with her chocolate tart and Baba au Rum.

She said: “It was a great experience to go to Liverpool and see how different colleges do their courses, see different kitchens and work with different equipment.

“I did the Welsh culinary competitions last year but this was my first big chef competition, it was three hours. I really enjoyed it.

“Front-of-house competitions and kitchen competitions are very different, with different rules and different things to think about. In kitchen competitions you have to be fast, clean and show as many of your skills as you can.”

Callum was competing in his first chef competition, and made a trout dish with butter sauce and Eggs Florentine.

He was unlucky to miss out on gold, with the judges saying it was an extremely tight call between the top three contestants.

“The judge said another pinch of seasoning and I would have won, so that shows how close it was between the top three,” said Callum.

“It gives me more motivation to push myself. I’ll be doing a fish competition later in the year, and I’ll be looking to get as far as I can and hopefully win.

Callum is studying Level 3 Professional Cookery (Kitchen and Larder), and said: “I’m really enjoying the course. I’m passionate about food and I want to work hard to get as far as I can in the industry.”

Catering lecturer Mike Evans said: “The ACF is a good competition for students to hone their skills. It’s very classical, old-school dishes - you can put your own interpretation on it but you’ve got to have certain aspects. It’s good for getting ready for bigger competitions.

“Rhian, Yuliia and Callum have all done really well. They’ve all had to do work outside of their normal learning day, coming in on their days off, and staying behind after classes to train for it. We’re very proud of what they’ve achieved.“

Rhian, Yuliia and Callum will all be invited to the ACF Presidents Awards and Gourmet Dinner on May 9 in Manchester, where they will be formally presented with their awards.