After an initial round that saw students from all across the UK competing for a place in the final, the first Cooking for the Future competition was won by a team representing Lincoln College.
The Cooking for the Future competition is based around the fact that students will be using advanced, intelligent cooking systems, such as the iVario Pro and iCombi Pro, throughout their career. Rational is committed to supporting educational initiatives that can provide students with training on its cooking systems to guarantee that they are familiar with the technology that will play a large part in their working life.
The competition was organised by Rational and the Craft Guild of Chefs (CGC) to introduce catering students to the potential of the latest multifunctional cooking systems and the impact they have on modern kitchens.
The competition was judged by Steve Munkley, Vice President of the CGC and Executive Head Chef of The Royal Garden Hotel; Nick Smith, development chef of The Good Eating Company and winner of the CGC’s National Chef of the Year 2021; and Dirk Ehrlicher, Executive Sous Chef of the Landmark Hotel. Rational was represented on the judging panel by National Corporate Chef Ian Leadbetter and Regional Sales Managers Kevin Clark who is also a regular judge for CGC Salon Culinaire.
“Today’s competition showcased the chefs of the future,” says Steve Munkley. “Every young chef did their college proud, they performed really well under pressure and delivered some exciting dishes, showcasing the talent coming through to the industry.”
To reach the final, the two person teams had to create recipes and then film videos presenting them, which were judged by a panel from Rational and the CGC. The four teams, Glasgow City College, North Hertfordshire College, Bridgend College and Lincoln College selected at this stage then went to the final, held at the development kitchen at Rational’s head office in Luton on 15th February 2022. Here they had to produce a two-course meal for six guests using Rational’s iVario Pro and iCombi Pro cooking systems, based on ingredients from a mystery box.
The mystery box featured a selection of British ingredients, including whole sea bass, duck breast, chicken supreme, forced rhubarb, bramley apples, beetroot, celeriac, kale, white potatoes and leeks. All the teams had to use at least three ingredients within both dishes.
The Lincoln College team was made up of Sam Lowe and Will Argent, accompanied by their lecturer Simon Walker.
Their winning menu consisted of roast seabass fillet with pickled Asian salad and Thai broth for the first course, with the second course comprising Sous Vide chicken breast with potato and leek rosti, caramelised celeriac purée and roast chicken jus. The winning dishes were prepared with an iVario Pro and iCombi Pro. Sam and Will impressed the judges with their culinary skills from the choice and use of ingredients and how they utilised the full capabilities of Rational’s cooking systems to create them.
Before entering the competition neither had used Rational cooking systems, but the experience of doing so impressed them both. “It’s a lot different from using a traditional kitchen,” says Sam. “The iVario Pro really impressed me with how easy it makes preparing large batches, but you can also use it for things like frying, so the skills we’ve learned on our course are relevant with these modern systems.”
The speed of cooking with Rational impressed Will. “We used the iVario Pro to make the Jus,” he says. “It really helped to create the flavour we wanted, and it did it so quickly!”
Both Sam and Will are studying for their VRQ diploma in professional cookery – Sam at level 2, and Will at level 3.
Despite never having encountered Rational cooking systems before, Sam and Will had no problems learning what they could do in a short period of time. “The experience wasn’t what I was expecting, but in a good way,” says Sam. “I was really surprised what we were able to get out of the iCombi Pro and iVario Pro, I’ve learned a lot that will be really useful going forward.”
Will agrees. “We developed our menu before we’d used a Rational cooking system, but we were able to use them for everything we wanted to do,” he says. “It was a very enjoyable experience, discovering how much both the iCombi Pro and iVario Pro could do, and how easy it was!”
Nick Smith agrees, saying “It’s been a fantastic day and an absolute joy to judge these superb colleges. It’s been great to see and taste some amazing food and see how this competition adapted around the Rational equipment and what can be achieved. I hope today inspires all the competitors to come back and continue competing. Well done to all the competitors, and thank you to Rational and the Craft Guild of Chefs for a cracking day.”
Dirk Ehrlicher was also impressed with the quality of the food, and thanked Rational for helping to organise the competition. “Rational’s cooking systems are very powerful additions to any kitchen, and seeing what these great teams were able to achieve with them is very inspiring,” he says.
For their efforts, Sam and Will won a Michelin Star experience at a restaurant in their region
. All teams in the final received an embroidered Rational chef’s jacket, a Rational knife set and a year’s membership of the Craft Guild of Chefs.
“The standard of all the teams in the final has been incredible,” says Thomas Bentham, Rational’s regional corporate chef, who led the project. “What these talented young chefs are able to achieve when combining their culinary skills with the latest cooking systems is a great sign for the future of the industry.”