Tom Van Zeller of Van Zeller Restaurants in Harrogate was crowned Game Chef of the Year yesterday in a prestigious competition which concluded a four month search for the UK’s best game chef.
Daniel Bland of The Wheatsheaf Inn, Doddington and Jonathan Cook of Greywall’s Hotel in Edinburgh were both runners up in the final held at The Cook School Scotland in Ayrshire.
The competition organised by Braehead Foods in association with Staff Canteen and Highland Game is now in its third year and had a record number of entries from across the UK.
Applicants were required to submit two game based dishes, one starter and one main course with the judges looking for fresh, innovative dishes.
All 10 finalists each received £100 and had the chance to prepare, cook and present two game based dishes to the panel of judges; Michelin star chef Tom Kitchin, Joe Queen, Executive Chef at Braehead Foods and Ian McAndrew of the Academy of Culinary Arts.
This years winner, Tom Van Zeller, has won a once in a lifetime trip to the south of Stockholm, Sweden where he will hunt wild boar, courtesy of Highland Game. Daniel and Jonathan have also won the chance to enjoy a deer stalking trip on a Highland Estate.
For Tom, ‘the game season is one of his favourite times of the year’ and his aim in entering the competition was to use it as a platform ‘to show how cooking game can be done simply and creatively in the home – from where to purchase, how to prepare and how to cook.’
Tom said: It’s a fantastic feeling. It was a tough competition with some great competitors so I’m delighted and very proud to be taking it back to Yorkshire and I’m really looking forward to the trip to the south of Stockholm later this year.
Tom’s winning dishes were wigeon with celeriac remoulade, apple and hazelnut to start, followed by loin of hare with choucroute, baby turnips and beetroot for his main.
Joe Queen, Executive Chef of Braehead Foods said: the standard this year was really high and there were some fantastic dishes produced by all of the finalists. There were only a few points between the winning dishes and runners up but Tom edged it with his flavours, consistency, and balance of his dishes which were both executed superbly.
For more information please visit www.braeheadfoods.co.uk/gamechef or follow us on Facebook.com/GameChefOfTheYear or Twitter @GameChefOfYear