Young chef is one step away from a national title

Published: December 19, 2017

Tabasco chef Liam Wassell| cookery studentsA Telford College chef student is just one step away from having his dishes featured on pub menus across the UK after reaching the final of a ‘hot chef’ cookery competition.
Liam Wassell is one of only 10 chefs from across the country to reach the last stage of the Tabasco Hot Chef Competition, to be held at Hotelympia in London in March.
The 17-year-old, from Stirchley, is currently studying for his level two VRQ professional chef’s diploma at the King Street campus, while working part time at the award-winning Hundred House Hotel in Norton, near Shifnal.
“I was ecstatic to have even made it through to the semi-finals, so to now be in with a chance of winning the whole competition is absolutely incredible,” he said. “It would be an amazing achievement.”
Liam was one of two Telford College students who made it through to the semi-final cook-off at the University of London in November. The other, Dayna Nielsen from Donnington, failed to make it to the final.
Liam will now have to repeat his semi-final menu at the final, in front of a panel of expert judges. He served up a smoked haddock, leek and gruyere starter, followed by a main course of slow cooked Shropshire short rib of beef with a four-root mash, and crispy shallot.
The competition is organised in partnership with The Craft Guild of Chefs, and as part of the rules, all the dishes have to incorporate a taste of Tabasco pepper sauces.
Chris Davies, chef lecturer at Telford College, said: “We had a nervous wait after the semi-final, waiting to hear how our students had got on. Finally, we received an email to say Liam had made it to the final, which is a wonderful achievement.”
The competition, in its sixth year, challenges young chefs to create a starter and main course which is fit for a mainstream pub menu.
The winning dish will feature on Stonegate pub and restaurant menus across the UK, and the champion will also get an all-expenses paid trip to Avery Island in Louisiana, USA, where Tabasco sauce is made.
Liam will have to impress an experienced panel of judges, including members of the Craft Guild of Chefs, Tabasco corporate chef Gary Evans, and Stonegate Pubs’ executive chef Kevin Steppe.
Gary Evans said: “The competition allows students at the start of their careers to experiment with the versatility of our sauces; we can’t wait to see what they come up with.”
Tabasco has been produced by the McIlhenny Company for nearly 150 years, and fifth generation family member Harold Osborn said: “We are delighted to support the next generation of chef talent.
“These young chefs are the future of the culinary industry and the next generation of innovators and trend setters.”

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