The competition was set-up by Marco Pierre White to challenge his junior chefs and create a platform for them to step-up and raise their profile across his establishments.
From 40 initial entries, four chefs from across the country battled it at Mr White’s English Chophouse at Hotel La Tour to be crowned the winner.
Vicky Wainwright, chef de partie for Marco’s New York Italian Sheffield was crowned the winner, after competing against the three other finalists: Edward Lloyd (sous chef, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill Chester), Sam Burnett (junior sous chef, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill Newcastle) and Sarah Bell (chef de partie, Marco’s New York Italian Kegworth).
The four finalists had one hour 30 minutes to cook a dish inspired by Marco’s cooking style and in keeping with what is served across his restaurants today, with the three star Michelin chef leading the judging panel alongside his chef director, Andrew Bennett.
The winning dish was oxtail lasagne with smoked garlic mash and baked vegetables. Marco said: “When I judge I look at technical ability but I also look at which dish I prefer to eat. I love oxtail and this dish is fitting to the ethos of the food we serve across our restaurants. It’s simple, it’s not trying to be too clever, you know exactly what you’re going to get and it tastes delicious.”
Vicky who spent 13 years as a school cook until three years ago when she began working at Marco’s New York Italian, said: “It was a dream come true to cook for Marco. He has been an inspiration for my home cooking for years and then I got the chance to work for him, which has massively enhanced my development.
“I’m really excited to have my dish feature as a special in Marco’s restaurants.”
Commenting on the final, Marco said: “They are all very good dishes and what they each have achieved is amazing. They are all winners to come so far.
“The good thing about this competition is that you are not forced to enter. It is for those who choose to express themselves. The judging element was about selecting a dish that is good to go on the menu. That was tough as they all could feature.”
Vicky received a set of MAC Knives and her Oxtail Lasagne will also feature as a special across Marco’s restaurants.