The end of last month I was invited to Judge at Wessex Salon Culinaire, one of the UK largest live culinary competitions. The popular event, which is held in association with The Craft Guild of Chefs, has grown in stature over the years and is a fantastic platform for all chefs, but especially student chefs, to get a first taste of competition experience.
The venue was Brockenhurst College, located in the heart of the New Forest National Park. It is one of the Country's top colleges and has been awarded the prestigious Beacon College status for excellence and innovation in further education.
Brockenhurst college played a fundamental part in my life to where I am today. Taking a trip back in time to September 1995 it was my dream destination. I will never forget wearing those chef whites for the 1st time … the buzz of the kitchen, the excitement of learning classical French cooking, the style of my heroes The Roux Brothers, it was heaven. I did try to spend as much time as I could in the pastry kitchen, even sneaking in when I was on a different section, just because I wanted to spend my whole time working with chocolate and other delicious sweet ingredients. I can remember my name being called out “Where is Miss Witt?!” when they noticed I had disappeared! The tutors at Brockenhurst were 1st class, 2 of them are still playing an active role today, nurturing the students to their full potential.
One of the highlights for me at the competition was to see a student create a chocolate show piece, he demonstrated so many different skills using different techniques. For next year’s Salon Culinaire I have been asked to play a role in designing new classes for attracting more entries in the pastry section. This is going to be an exciting role and will incorporate skills the chefs need to have if they would like to become part of the next generation of chocolatiers.