Gold and bronze medals for chefs

Nicky Reid, Executive Chef for Sodexo at Almac, Craigavon won the Sodexo All-Ireland Chef of the Year competition and the Best in Show accolade at Salon Culinaire 2017, the annual culinary competition run by services company Sodexo Ireland for its 3,700 chef and non-chef staff in the Republic and Northern Ireland. His colleague, head chef Mark Tindale, from Portadown won a bronze medal in the competition.

The competitors had to prepare three dishes against the clock, the main course to be fish and a citrus-based dessert.

Nicky Reid took home the gold medal and Best in Show accolade for his starter of kohlrabi linguine, pecorino emulsion and truffle pesto, followed by his entrée of pan-roasted hake in dulce butter with smoked cockles, celeriac pomme puree, sea aster, peas and shoots. His dessert was a caramel pink pepper pineapple with pistachios, lime and avocado ice cream.

Nicky will now represent Ireland in the UK and Ireland Grand Final at Hotelympia in London in March 2018, where he will face the winning chefs from the England, Scotland and Wales Salons.

Nicky said, “I was shocked when I heard my name called, because the competition was very tough with high levels of skill and technique on display and I was up against two very experienced previous winners. I chose my menu based around what was seasonal and grown locally to me.

“I am honoured and excited to be representing Ireland and I will be putting a great deal of time, effort and practice into preparing for the Grand Final in 2018.”

Mark also impressed the judges with his starter of potage of vegetables with poached duck egg and fresh herbs followed by pan flashed hake, rainbow chard, marsh samphire, celeriac puree and surf clams. His dessert was a lemon meringue and pine nut ice cream.

He said, “I am a big believer in using ingredients that are farmed or grown here in Northern Ireland. I also like to use in-season produce to ensure that the best possible flavours and freshness runs through my dishes.”

It was Mark’s first time to enter Sodexo’s Chef of the Year and is no stranger to the competitive arena. He served in the RAF for eight years and is now an Army reserve and has received many accolades for his culinary skills.

Sodexo is a provider of food and facilities management services to clients in business and industry, education and financial services.