North East Wales food challenge showcases the best of regions talent and produce
A search to find the dish which best represents the high-quality produce and talented chefs in North East Wales came to a head on Friday when Coleg Cambria Deeside played host to the North East Wales food challenge ‘cook off’.
As Wales launches into the Year of Adventure the North East Wales tourism team, a collaboration between Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire council’s aimed at promoting the region, set out in search of the ultimate dish which best represents the region
Fourteen kitchen teams from venues across the three counties entered dishes created using the finest local produce.
Joe Bickerton from the Wrexham Destination Partnership explains more about the challenge he said:
“The Year of Adventure in Wales presents lots of opportunities for businesses to attract new visitors. It’s not just about high-adrenaline activities – doing something simple like trying a new restaurant or adding something to a menu that you may not have previously considered can be an adventure of sorts too.
The entrants promoted their dishes as a ‘special’ on menu’s throughout February, they received two mystery visits during the period which judged the quality of food, marks were also awarded for the promoting of the dish.
Three kitchen teams were chosen to go through to Fridays head to head ‘cook-off’ serving up their interpretation of the best of North East Wales Food to a panel of judges and tourism ambassadors.
A long and intense day of cooking in the unfamiliar surroundings of Y Celstryn restaurant kitchens at Coleg Cambria’s Deeside campus by the chefs from each venue culminated in an afternoon tasting session and judging by the select panel.
The first dish to come out of the kitchen created by the team at Cross Lanes Hotel, Wrexham.
Head Chef Vince presented tenderloin of pork sourced from Home Farm, Overton, slow roast belly pork which took around eight hours to cook Vince said proudly, tomato & pork sausage bon-bons, dragon buttered mashed potato, ponche mipe, savoy cabbage with wicked wasp cider from Rosie’s in Llandegla, and garden chive cream sauce.
The pork belly was cooked beautifully the soft fleshy meat was accompanied by wonderfully crisp crackling, the pork tenderloin again perfectly cooked soaked up some of the rich garden chive sauce making for a perfect accompaniment to the tender meat, crisp bon-bons added a twist to this superbly well-executed dish, and a very high standard of cooking to kick off with.
Next up a braised steak and ale pie from Flintshire’s Afonwen, the popular Craft & Antique Centre in Mold.
The kitchen team used locally reared beef slowly and gently braised with Mostyn kitchen garden carrots, onions, leeks and bay leaf, a good ‘dash’ of Hafod ale helped create to a wonderfully moreish gravy, all encased in an expertly cooked crisp golden baked shortcrust pastry base.
The dish was accompanied by a creamy mash, Mostyn kitchen garden potatoes infused with a hint of Welsh wholegrain mustard and a trio of market vegetables, of particular note the red cabbage which was stunning.
A great dish which wouldn’t look out of place on any high end ‘gastro’ pub menu, a true classic which evokes memories of brisk winter walks in the Flintshire countryside, roaring log fires and a cracking pint of ale in your favourite pub (getting carried away little 😉
The final dish to come from the kitchen was simply titled ‘locally sourced lamb tagine’ and was presented by the cafe team from mountain biking centre One Planet Adventure in Llandegla.
The tagine was served on a plate made ‘just down the road’ from the mountain bike centre adding an extra layer of provenance to the entry which, after all was perhaps more about showcasing the high-quality local produce and skill used to produce it rather than the local origins of the recipe.
David Coates from One Planet says he sources meat from just a ‘stones throw away’ from the centre and the guys really put together something special with the tagine.
There was nothing simple about this festival of flavours, they were wonderfully complex yet well balanced with rich spices, fresh herbs, accompanied by superbly cooked couscous with its subtle kick of red chilli, the dish was topped with tangy yoghurt and mint and sprinkle sweet fragrant pomegranate seeds which popped with every fork full.
This entry had the flavour ‘edge’ for us making it the Deeside.com favourite, and a good measure of that was the speed it was ‘polished off’ on the Deeside.com/Wrexham.com table.
After much delibration the judges returned to announce the winner of this years North East Wales Food Challenge – One Planet Adventure with their superb Lamb Tagine.
The full range of entrants can be found on the NorthEastWales.co.uk site here. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com