The Rosevine scoops title for annual catering competition
The team from The Rosevine from Portscatho, has been crowned winner of the Cornish Challenge 2012 at the end of a heated head-to-head battle between six finalists.
The Cornish Challenge is run by Cornwall Catering Excellence, a partnership of seven longstanding Cornish family businesses and Cornwall College, who work together to promote the best of Cornish hospitality and encourage businesses to boost the local economy by choosing local suppliers.
Monday night saw six Cornish teams putting their culinary skills to the test, competing to win over the panel of judges, comprising two of Cornwall's most celebrated chefs, Paul Ripley of Rick Stein's Seafood Bar in Falmouth and Nigel Tabb of Tabb's in Truro, who were joined by head judge Elizabeth Carter, consultant Editor of The Good Food Guide. Elizabeth has been an active restaurant inspector and contributor to the Guide since the 1990s, and has extensive experience in restaurant-related publishing and media. With years of industry knowledge behind them, the judges presented a formidable panel for the six finalists.
Elizabeth Carter told guests she was pleased to be on the judging panel: "We're looking for incredible, fabulous ingredients, strong food and wonderful ideas.
"It's not just about nipping down to the local butchers or farm shop to source the ingredients, it's about forging those relationships with suppliers - we're not just looking for Cornish produce but an understanding of it from the chefs involved. We're looking for good food cooked with skill and passion. There is another element to it and that is service, which is as important as the food itself. It's about the whole experience."
Paul Ripley added: "I'd like the chefs to be able to produce dishes of sound quality, clarity of flavours and to have shown an understanding of using good, fresh, seasonal Cornish ingredients."
In addition to the three food judges, two front of house judges, Lorna Dunstan and Bob Bishop of Cornwall College, were closely monitoring the quality of service from each of the teams.
Bustophers Bar Bistro, The Ferryboat Inn, Harbourside Restaurant at The Greenbank, The Rosevine, Rosewarne Manor and Silks Bistro each had to produce a four course menu based around seasonal Cornish ingredients and serve it to the judges in addition to twenty guests on the night.
The competing chefs were given a tight three and a half hours to produce four-courses, with up to four chefs and two front-of-house staff on each team, assisted by Cornwall College students. Marking was split between front of house service (30%) and the food itself (70%) and it couldn't have been a tighter contest, however, it was the The Rosevine who triumphed overall, bringing together the combined skills of Ben Churchman, Leigh Dow and Mark Lewin, led by head chef Tony Duce. The Ferryboat Inn came in second place and Silks Bistro a close third.
The Rosevine menu featured mussel soup with peppered Cornish hog, Cornish mackerel rilette with pickled vegetables and toasts, Local hare, roast pears, bacon and root vegetables and warm spiced walnut cake with prune and Cornish cider brandy parfait.
Elizabeth commented: "Every team produced at least one ‘stand out' dish, but it was the Rosevine's menu which stood out initially and the team really delivered."
Nigel Tabb added: "I loved the simplicity of the dishes; the menu read really nicely and made me want to try all of it. It was obvious the kitchen was working really well during their preparation and they nailed their dishes on the night. Mackerel rilettes was a great starter and the hare was so tender and tasty and they ended with a lovely, light Spiced Walnut Cake. Well done to The Rosevine, their ingredients were spot on."
The winning team were thrilled with their trophy and prize money of £100 each, plus vouchers worth £500. Tony Duce said: "All of us are extremely proud to win the Cornish Challenge and it's a great way for us to kick off our fifth season which starts tomorrow. We are very lucky to have so many quality Cornish suppliers on our doorstep."
James Staughton of St Austell Brewery, part of Cornwall Catering Excellence, said: "The Cornish Challenge is all about the highest standards of cooking and service and our fantastic local produce. Our finalists had some tough critics to impress and they have done that brilliantly. As always, I'm astounded by the results the teams have produced and it just demonstrates the best we have to offer here in Cornwall."
Any chefs or restaurants interested in entering the challenge for next year should contact Cornwall Food & Drink on 01872 865101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.