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Foods from Spain names culinary competition winner

23 January 2012

Foods from Spain has announced the winners of its annual Spanish Young Chef of the Year competition. Ben Murphy, of Koffmann’s at The Berkeley won first place in the competition; William Chilila of The Orrery restaurant and Billy Stock of the Opera Tavern, took second and third place respectively.

They were competing against six other finalists in the cook off stage of the nationwide competition, which follows a paper-based first round. The competition is held each year to encourage talented chefs up to the age of 25 to explore and experiment with the exciting variety of Spanish fresh produce and other Spanish ingredients. Dishes inspired by Spanish cuisine are encouraged and each course must feature one ingredient from the following pairs; strawberries or raspberries, Picota cherries or persimon and rice or pulses.

As well as taking the title of Spanish Young Chef of the Year 2012, 21-year-old Ben, has won a week in the kitchens of AkelarÌe, one of the few restaurants in Spain to hold three Michelin stars, under renowned chef Pedro Subijana. Ben will travel to Spain later in the year for his training placement.

Ben’s winning menu was a starter of Salmon with pickled lemon zest, cauliflower, chorizo and yolk; a main course of leg and breast of duck, potato cannelloni and stuffed morcilla cherries; and Tonka bean & almond soufflé, with cherimoya, raspberry and almond for dessert.

Second place William’s menu included a dressed crab starter with persimon and beetroot salad; seared marinated fillet of black Ibérico pork with pickled fennel, caramelised salsify, white onion puree and wild rice for main course; followed by orange panacotta with marinated Spanish strawberries and basil sorbet for dessert.

Billy Stock’s third place menu featured Spanish style potted crab with ajoblanco, raspberry gel and Iberico de Bellota for starter; a main course of spiced Ibérico pork loin with braised Ibérico cheekand black bean stew finished with Pedro Ximenez jus; and Créme Catalan parfait torta de almond crumb and black olive caramel for dessert.

María José Sevilla, Director of Foods from Spain said: “The quality of this year’s finalists has been outstanding. It’s great to see young chefs taking inspiration of Spanish cooking and ingredients to produce such superb dishes.

“We were very impressed by Ben’s menu and knowledge of Spanish cuisine. I’m sure his placement at Akelaŕe will be both enjoyable and beneficial to his career and we wish him every success in the future”.

The judging panel was made up of Director of Foods from Spain, María José Sevilla, chef and author Peter Gordon, President of the Guild of Food Writers, Jane Suthering, and chef lecturer José Souto.

The competition was sponsored by LA Organic and Endor Gourmet Foods, who provided ingredients for the cook off. Foods from Spain expects to launch the Spanish Young Chef of the Year 2013 competition later this year.

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