ICG young chefs set for title deciding NECTA cook off

Five talented young chefs from The Inn Collection Group will be taking to the stage at this week’s North East Culinary & Trade Association (NECTA) Hospitality Salon as the pub with room’s operator’s search for its Young Chef of the Year culminates in show-stopping fashion.

Taking place at Newcastle’s Crown Plaza on May 3 and 4, the talented gastronomes will take to the main stage at the wider HITSExpo (Hospitality. Innovation. Tourism. Supply Chain) for an hour-long contest where they will cook an exciting dish of their own creation, that makes use of seasonal produce and fits the group’s traditional pub style.

The finalists have come from across the group’s north eastern sites, with chefs representing Alnwick’s The Hog’s Head Inn, Blyth’s The Commissioners Quay Inn, Sunderland’s The Seaburn Inn and Durham’s The Kingslodge Inn in the running for the title.

Preparing three plates of food, the inaugural champion will be chosen by a panel of industry professionals and will see their dish added to specials menus across the company’s network of properties.

The winner will also receive an engraved ICG Young Chef of the Year trophy, an engraved cook’s knife, and a night’s stay with dinner at an Inn of their choice.

Aiming to take the title back to Northumberland, Chris Prescott is hoping that grilled octopus with chorizo potatoes, basil potatoes and sweet onion will wow the judges, whilst Scott Anderson is banking on pan fired Hake in a chorizo and prosecco sauce to see Co Durham emerge triumphant.

Sam Eke is one of a pair of entries from The Commissioners Quay Inn and will turn out the classic combination of lamb rump in a port and red wine jus, whilst Jack Steward will cook a stuffed wrapped chicken breast with a potato rosti, honey-roasted chantenay carrots, green beans and a creamy tarragon sauce.

The final contestant, Hannah Hope is embracing her site’s seaside location, with the glistening shores of Seaburn bay inspiring her to create pan-fired sea bass with new potatoes, kale, samphire, and a lemon & garlic butter sauce.

Running for the first time in 2023, ICG’s Young Chef of the Year competition is the latest innovation from the company that aims to recognise and reward talent within its ranks and provide enrichment within the workplace.

It is the brainchild of the group’s food development manager Chris Taylor, who has been impressed by the standards set by this year’s cohort.

Taylor said: “We’re very proud of our kitchen brigades at The Inn Collection Group and the five chefs who’ve entered the competition are some of our promising young talents who are all 24 or younger.

“We’ve been really impressed by the dishes that they have submitted for the competition and are really looking forward to tasting the creations at the HITSExpo.

“Cooking in front of an audience will be a new challenge for them and it is great that our sponsorship of the event has opened up this opportunity and we will be interested to see how they perform.”

Returning for the first-time post-pandemic, The NECTA Hospitality Salon is the region’s most prominent culinary and catering exhibition and is open to both industry and the public as part of a broader HITS Expo, a celebration of the best in tourism and hospitality from across the North of the Tyne.

Bringing together the best practitioners in food, drink, hospitality and tourism under one roof at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Newcastle in order to connect, share and learn from each other, the HITS Expo will highlight the role these vital sectors play in forging our region’s identity and offer, and in encouraging community, collaboration and collective purpose throughout the industry and beyond.

Open to both the trade and wider public, the HITS Expo will offer an exciting mix of insight and inspiration delivered in an informal and entertaining way with the ICG final part a key feature of Thursday’s billing.