Friday 12th January saw the return of Major International and the Craft Guild of Chefs’ annual Major Series and it was an excellent way to kick off the 2018 heats!
There was an electric buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air on Friday morning as the corridors of Bournemouth and Poole College filled up with eager young chefs ready to compete in the first heats of Major Series 2018. For many of them, this would be their first time competing in a culinary competition and as Martin Tarbuck, Senior Instructor at Bournemouth and Poole College, pointed out, there is no better starting point for them. “Something like the Major Series, which is honed in on students with the possibility of them going on to compete at a national level, is absolutely fantastic as it’s a chance for them to experience something new and something which may inspire them to go on and compete again.”
The live heats began in Kitchen 1 with Class 1: The Chicken Challenge, where the students were tasked with creating two portions of a modern style chicken dish using a Major Mari Base and Stock Base or Veal Jus. Using their knowledge of modern cuisine and the best flavour combinations, the competitors created a stunning range of dishes which each displayed their skill and originality. Fergus Martin, Foodservice Development Chef at Major International and Team Manager for the Craft Guild of Chefs, spent the day judging The Chicken Challenge and was impressed with what he saw. “The overall standard today was extremely good with some exciting flavours and good use of ingredients. Many of the dishes showcased the products extremely well and I was also impressed with the professionalism and good technical skill the contestants showed.”
Meanwhile in Kitchen 2, Class 2: The Street Food Challenge was also getting off to a great start. Street Food is one of the biggest players in today’s culinary scene and this challenge is an excellent chance for the students to explore the latest trends and flavours in global street food. Matthew Sussex, Chef Lecturer from visiting Highbury College in Portsmouth, said, “The Major Series is a massive opportunity for our students to not only build on the skills they are learning in college, but also to look at the flavours of different cultures. Experimenting with the Mari Bases has been a really good chance for them to play around with different levels of spicing which is all good knowledge for them to have going forward.”
Talking to some of the Highbury students who had competed in the Street Food Challenge, it was apparent that they had thought carefully about both the flavour and functionality of their dishes. “The first thing that came into my head for street food was chicken skewers and spicy samosas as they’re finger foods that are nice and easy to eat,” said Nathan Johnson. His friend, Ashley Ferrand, had created a Bombay marinated sea bass fillet with mustard spiced green beans and Bombay potatoes on the side. “I’d originally thought of making a curry but I knew a lot of people were doing rice and curry dishes so I chose to spice it up a bit by making sea bass. The sweet, coconut flavour of the Bombay Marinade really complimented the other flavours of my dish and that’s why I chose it in the end.”
Over in Kitchen 3, Class 3: The Pasta Challenge was also now well underway. A new challenge for this year, this class is a chance for Level 1 students to showcase their abilities and it saw a sizeable number of entries on the day. David Marshall, Prep Chef and Instructor at Bournemouth and Poole College and a Pasta Challenge Judge, said, “Overall, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen today. Although in some cases, the nerves unfortunately got the better of them, on the whole the dishes produced were well thought through. I would have liked to have seen a little more emphasis on presentation throughout the class but I think it’s really important that the students are going away today with skills that will help them progress from this point on whether that’s because they’re more geared up for working in a pressurised environment, or just because they’ve had the opportunity to showcase their skills to a wider audience.”
Meanwhile in the restaurant, the Plated Mains, Gateaus, Bread Rolls and Afternoon Tea Services were steadily building up and it was time for Wayne Harris, Chairman of the Judges for the Craft Guild of Chefs, to begin judging. “Overall, I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen today across the static classes. There were some innovative ideas in the Plated Main Class and a good used of flavour and decoration across the Gateau Class,” he said. “I’ve been the Chairman of the Judges for the Major Series for six years now and its wonderful to see the competition growing year on year with new venues coming on board. It’s such an invaluable experience taking part in something like this as it gives the students a massive confidence boost as well as allowing them to keep growing and improving their skills to prepare them for the workplace and other competitions.”
This year was the second time Bournemouth and Poole College have hosted the Major Series and the competition saw a massive 82 entries which is almost double the number they saw last year. It’s really encouraging to see the students getting on board with the competition, as it could be a massive advantage to them when they enter the world of work. Talking about what the students can gain from competing in competitions like the Major Series, Christopher Basten, Culinary Team Captain for the Craft Guild of Chefs, said, “To an employer, a list of medals on your CV makes you a very attractive candidate as it not only shows willingness but also a commitment and passion for the job.”
Bournemouth’s heat saw the majority of students going away with bronze, silver or gold medals as well as one student from each class earning the title of class winner. However, it was Bournemouth and Poole College student, Laszlo Nemeth, who was the overall winner on the day with his innovative and well-balanced chicken dish. He will go on to compete against the other regional winners in the national final at The Great Hospitality Show in 2019.
The final thing to say is a massive congratulations to all the competitors and a big thank you to the Craft Guild of Chefs, Bournemouth and Poole College and Highbury College for supporting the day and helping it all run smoothly.
Dates for your diaries
The first heat may be finished but Major Series 2018 is far from over!
Friday 2nd February – South Devon College
Wednesday 28th March – New College Durham
Thursday 31st May – Coventry College
Find out more!
Follow the links below for more information about the UK’s premier young chefs competition and details on how to enter!
Get In Touch - We love to be social!
Facebook - @majorinternationaluk
Twitter - @Majorint
Instagram - @majorinternational