Press Releases

Blanket Bay junior chef among best in the World

Aug 26, 2010

Blanket Bay’s commitment to nurturing the creativity and skills of young chefs has delivered yet another accolade on the world stage.

Junior chef Joseph Clarke, already multi award winning at just 22 years old, added a bronze medal to his collection when he was awarded third place at The Hans Bueschkens World Junior Chef’s Challenge in Chile last week.

Employed at Blanket Bay as a junior chef at the luxurious Glenorchy property since late 2006, Clarke received his first major award in 2007 when he was named New Zealand Commis Chef of the year at the New Zealand Culinary Fare. Since then, he has picked up several accolades including the right to represent New Zealand at this latest global competition held as part of the biannual World Chefs Congress.

At the competition, the best Junior Chefs in the world (as judged by regional competitions) were faced with a three course mystery box challenge where the contestants were presented with a box of ingredients and had to devise a menu which they then cooked for the judges.

Clarke’s three courses were marinated Chilean sea bass for starters followed by pan roasted ribeye then molten chocolate fondant, all cooked and served within a challenging time limit and a tense kitchen atmosphere.

“It was 40 degrees in the kitchen and my dessert chocolate was melting, plus the four gas hobs we were supposed to be allocated were reduced to just two, two competitors had to share an oven. It was full on.”

Clarke described this competition as particularly important to him, not only because it is the currently the highest level of world competition offered to a junior chef individually, but because he was operating completely independently with just some support from fellow chef, Sarah Primrose.

"I’ve won awards before but this placing made me feel especially proud because I was doing it without the instruction or guidance of a manager,” says Clarke. “I have been fortunate that this is my second time competing in this competition being placed 7th in Dubai ’08. To achieve 3rd place this year is fantastic”, I’m very thankful for the support of several people and organisations including Blanket Bay management, Blanket Bay head chef Mark Sycamore, Vice President of the New Zealand Chefs Association Gary Miller, Sarah Primrose, Silver Fern Farms and of course the New Zealand Chef’s Association”.

Blanket Bay General Manager, Philip Jenkins said that it was wonderful to see Joseph get the recognition he deserves.

“He’s got such talent and it’s fantastic to watch his trajectory towards international culinary success.”

Mr Jenkins said encouraging chefs to compete plays a role in maintaining a positive, supportive working environment at Blanket Bay.

“It’s a win-win situation because it gives our chefs the chance to further their own careers while ensuring we deliver a world-class culinary experience to our guests.”

Seventeen junior chefs from their respective nations participated in the world final with chefs from Canada and Malaysia taking out first and second place respectively.

Photo caption: Joseph Clarke at Blanket Bay with his awards from The Hans Bueschkens World Junior Chef’s Challenge.

For Joseph Clarke’s first person account of the 2010 Hans Beuschkens World Junior Chefs Challenge please read on….

Joseph Clarke report re: The Hans Beuschkens World Junior Chef’s Challenge

The competition is a memorial trophy dedicated to the life of Hans Bueschkens who was an amazing German chef.

The competition is a three course mystery box format where contestants see their box the night before and have to hand in a menu prior to stepping in the kitchen. We received the box at 6pm and had an hour to look through it and inspect the kitchens.

I was up until 2.30 am working on my menu. I drew place number 11 which put me in the second heat.

We were supposed to be given 4 gas cook tops and a combi oven but when we had briefing the day before we found there would be only two gas tops each and we would have to share an oven. This meant I had to be smart about my menu preparation as I had to make sure that I never needed to have more than two pots on the stove at one time.

It is a five and a half hour competition. The first course needed to be served at the 3.5 hour mark and you only have a 5 minute window to serve the entrée to the judges without losing points. The main course had to be served 40 minutes after entrée and the dessert 40 minutes later.

Prior to starting to cook, we had 45 minutes mise-en-place to set up. Sarah Primrose helped me sort and weigh out ingredients. I had to go through the ingredients of the mystery box and make sure I took everything I would need as all ingredients I hadn’t planned on using would be taken away and because of limited fridge space, I couldn’t take all of the ingredients supplied. Planning was key. 45 minutes was not a lot of time and we finished our set up just seconds before they asked us to leave the arena.

When we were on, the kitchen temperature had soared to C40 degrees and the chocolate they had given us had actually melted in the heat when I came to use it for dessert course.

We had to make sure we kept our fluids up during the competition, fortunately water being handed out constantly.

It was hard work but I did the best I could – my menu was:

Entree

Marinated Chilean sea bass with fish mousse and scallops wrapped in pasta served with a tomato and red pepper salsa, smoky eggplant and asparagus

Main

Pan roasted beef rib eye with mushroom and sage sausage served with potato puree, beetroot jam, crispy prosciutto, creamy mushrooms and green beans

Dessert

Molten chocolate fondant with passion fruit cream, tuille biscuit, raspberry coulis and pistachios

Judging was out of 100 points with points allocated as follows:

Kitchen 30 points such hygiene and safe work practises

Food 70 points and broken into sub categories

- 5 points - menu description

- 25 points - presentation of the dish

- 40 points - taste