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Simpsons Chef Triumphs

Matt Cheal of Simpsons with his runners up

Matt Cheal of Simpsons with his runners up

Meet Matt Cheal, the Birmingham chef who hates coming second.

Last year Birmingham chef Matt Cheal came second in the prestigious British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year Award at London’s Hotelympia.  He was not at all happy about it, so this year he had another crack and won!

Solihull born and bred, Matt’, 28, is a chef at Simpson’s in Edgbaston having joined Andreas Antona at his original Kenilworth Restaurant direct from training at Birmingham’s outstandingly successful catering college. To win this competition Matt’ had to cook a Fine Dining three course menu of his own choice in two hours.
Taking advice from Luke Tipping, his Chef de Cuisine and mentor at Simpsons, he decided on a starter of Seared hand dived Ross-Shire Scallops, with a Caviar d’Aquitaine, Broccoli, Orzo Pasta and an Seaweed Butter Sauce.  This was followed by a Rolled Saddle of Cornish Lamb, that he had to prepare from the bone, served with Sweetbreads, Charlotte Potatoes, Baby Spinach, Silverskin Onions and Trompette Mushrooms and Tarragon.  His dessert was Caramelised Pear, Salted Almonds, Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce.
This competition – virtually the Olympics of Cooking – is judged by such culinary greats as Pierre Koffmann as well as Birmingham’s own Glynn Purnell and Idris Caldora, who once cooked in the Midlands.  ‘Cooking at this level is extraordinary’, says Matt. ‘The adrenalin is rushing and if you stopped and thought that you were under the gaze of culinary gods like Chef Koffman, you would be terrified.  But there just isn’t time for any thoughts other than concentrating on what you are doing’.
Matt’ was worried that he hadn’t had enough practice as he had only spent a week preparing and cooking the menu and a trial run with Andreas Antona was an absolute disaster.  But constantly rehearsing the dishes made sure that it was all right on the day.  His prize of a cheque for £2,500, a gold medal, a framed certificate and a commemorative plate were all fitting rewards for his hard work,, completed dedication and exceptional skill.  But for Matt’ the honour of being The British Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year for 2010 was quite the best prize of all.
The next hurdle is the National Chef of the Year Awards, but Matt’ feels that he needs a rest from competitions for a couple of years while he get to know and understand what he is doing even better.
With young chefs with that kind of attitude the future of Birmingham’s culinary culture is in pretty safe hands.

Second was Kevin Sutherland of Baxter Storey, London winning Silver medal and a cheque for £500, and 3rd  was Stephanie Moon of Leeds City College who won a Bronze medal and a cheque for £250.

Other finalists were:
David Kennedy, Black Door Group, Newcastle upon Tyne
Dez Turland, Royal Duchy Hotel, Cornwall
Dean Crews, Finesse Hotels, Derby
Chris Godfrey, The Kingham Plough, Kingham
Roland Graham, The Merchant Hotel, Belfast
Matthew Warburton, Mint Restaurant, Lichfield
Paul Foster, Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham

Also winning on the same day was chef team member Jacqueline Keenan who is a member of the he British Culinary Federation team, who cooked a three course meal for 100 key industry visitors to Hotelympia.  The winning menu, included an Amuse Bouche and Pre Dessert for the Chef’s Table: Captained by Simon Hulstone, Chef Owner of Michelin starred restaurant, The Elephant, Torquay, the team included Adam Bennett and Jacqueline Keenan of Michelin starred restaurant, Simpson’s, Birmingham; Craig Beecham also from The Elephant; Andrew Jones , The Westbury Hotel, London and Graham Squires, Trinity Restaurant, London.

Reported for us by Philippe Boucheron

Read Philippe Boucheron’s Simpsons Restaurant Review HERE

More on Simpsons, Birmingham website  HERE

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