Hartlepool & New College Durham RISE to the Challenge in the Northern Heats

Proof is very much in the pudding as the Northern heats of the new look Major Series serve as tangible evidence of the instrumental role this culinary competition plays in the nurturing of future talent.
Hosts of the Northern heats for the second year running, the Major Series in Hartlepool was once again a triumph of aspiration and a desire to excel. Welcomed by a large number of smiling faces, from the familiar students who have participated in classes every year since starting their training to newer recruits, the judges were given a decidedly tough job as standards were once again high. From high calibre gateaux to assorted pastry, flavoursome street food and an impressive cook off in the Two Course challenge, a class which gives the winner and runner up the all coveted stab at the live finals at Hotelympia 2018, the overall outcome was an impressive one. A shining array of awards, merits, bronze, silver and even some gold medals, were presented on the day.
Winner of the Two Course challenge came in the form of Andrew Bood, whose story is one of true passion and a response to what is undoubtedly a genuinely felt call from the industry. After a sixteen year long career in architecture, Bood recounted how he had made the decision to swap his office job, retrain and pursue another path in the direction of his real passion: cooking. Now employed as a Head Chef at a golf club in the North East, Bood was keen to take up the challenge of the Major Series to see how his current ability measured up. “The competition definitely served as a confidence booster and helped me put what I am doing now into some kind of context with regards to the industry at large. Whilst I am still a little shocked that I won, I intend to use this experience, learn from it and I will go for gold on the day.”   
Joining Bood at the finals will be runner-up, Phoebe Gallen. A third year student from Hartlepool College, Gallen is no stranger to the finals. Having competed in the live cook-offs of the 2015-2016 series at the Great Hospitality Show this February, Phoebe is really proud to have been given another chance at taking the title.  
Following the recent changes to the classes and amendments to some of the longstanding competition’s rules, Major were keen for feedback from the hardworking people that are helping to mould our chefs of the future: their teachers. Speaking with Chef Lecturer Paul Richardson from New College Durham, Major were pleased to hear how well received the competition continues to be.  “The Major Series is very important to schools. It helps bolster the students’ confidence, their self esteem and is great asset to have on their CVs. As confidence grows, so too does their skill set, from presentation to knife skills and the ability to work under pressure, making them more employable at the end of their studies.  This is reason why we are so keen to get them involved.”
“The standard of the competition has definitely continued to improve over the past years. It is now getting harder to decide what is good enough to merit a bronze, silver or gold and we are upping our game to help them reach these goals.  Students are keen to take part. They are motivated. By coming up against their peers in a high pressured environment of a competition, they get an idea of what the industry and working in a kitchen will be like. They go away from the Major Series wanting to do better and striving to improve. Moreover, they are given hands on experience with Major’s quality products which they will take forward and use once they are in the industry’ agreed fellow college lecturer, Paul McLaughlin.
“Today was a real demonstration of the abilities of our students. Skills they are keen to hone, whether they are in the industry already or looking to work there in the near future. Our job is to help them do this and inspire them to take this passion forward,” were the final thoughts from Kevin Dove, Chef Lecturer from Hartlepool College.
Another inspirational day for the UK’s up and coming chefs, another great heat in the history book of the Major Series. With only one more round to go, Major are looking forward to bringing the finalists together for a hands-on mentoring day and top competition tips at the Major House, prior to what looks to be a very exciting finale!
Are YOU or YOUR students keen to take up the challenge? Find out how you can be part of the UK’s premier culinary competition by downloading the brochure here: https://www.majorint.com/competitions or email enquires@craftguildofchefs.org
Be inspired & Go Create!