RAF Catering Competition 2017
The annual RAF Catering Competition 2017 was held at Worthy Down, Winchester over 14 and 15 Jun 17.
The competition schedule of events was sent to all Units at the start of the year and the planning began. Firstly the details were sent to all Catering Sqn members and volunteers were sought for the various classes and events. These ranged from Jnr and Snr classes, which are experience restricted classes to Open Classes that anyone of any rank or experience levels can enter. There are Open lamb, fish vegetarian/vegan, cake, dessert and bakery skills classes as well as the Field Challenge and team events of cook and serve.
All told every Station bar one entered somebody in the competition with a total of 115 competitors, so it was hard fought with much professional trade banter between Units, friends and colleagues.
RAF Waddington was represented by:
SAC Ryan Hewitson, who entered the Open Duck class where he had to prepare, cook and serve 2 plated portions of a duck dish all within 40 minutes. A descriptive menu of the dish being produced was also required. Minimum levels of pre-preparation were allowed, for example vegetables and fruit may be washed and peeled but not cut or shaped. SAC Hewitson produced a Cherry Glazed Duck Breast, served with a confit leg bonbon and squash puree. Glazed tendersweet carrots, honey roasted baby beet, pickled cherries, cherry gel & finished with a honey & cherry reduction. The dish was well received and SAC Hewitson attained a bronze medal for his efforts.
SAC Kerry Thompson entered the Open Steward Skills, she had to prepare, cook and serve a savoury flambé dish with an accompanying side salad for 3 people. One portion was presented to the judges and 2 served to diners at a laid table. She had to offer and serve a matching wine and serve a speciality coffee. A descriptive menu card was required, but she had to host her guests explaining the wine pairing, the method and ingredients of the dish and use her excellent customer service skills to inform without intruding on their dining experience. She had to expertly lay the table too, all within a 40 minute timeframe. She produced scallops flambéed in Sambuca with a lime and honey coating; this was served with a pomegranate, pear and fennel salad, topped with shaved parmesan and a raspberry coulis. Her fine efforts were rewarded with a bronze medal.
SAC Jody Huteson entered the Jnr Chef of the Year and had to prepare cook and serve a 2 course meal for 2 covers comprising of: a main Course of 2 plated portions to competitor’s choice but using chicken as the prime ingredient and accompanied by a suitable starch and vegetable(s). A dessert course; 2 portions of a hot or cold dessert using plums as the prime ingredient, all within 50 minutes. Jnr competitors have to be either in phase two training or within 3 years of leaving phase 2 training. Jody has been here at Waddington after phase 2 for just 3 months, so this was a big undertaking for her. She produced a menu of, butter basted corn fed chicken with a chicken, thyme and rosemary lollipop, creamed potato, carrot and star anise puree, broad beans, crispy chicken skin and a roast chicken jus for her main course. For her dessert; a spiced plum cake with meringue, poached black amber plums, sugared almond crumb, plum coulis and a crème fraîche sorbet. A bronze medal was awarded for this tasty combination of dishes.
The team of SAC Ryan Hewitson, SAC Ben Duce and SAC Emma Clarke entered the Open Cook and Serve, this is a combination of both front and back of house working together to prepare, cook and serve a 3 course meal for 4 covers, 2 covers to be presented to the judges and 2 covers served to diners at a laid table. The team is to consist of 1 chef, 1 commis chef and 1 waiter. Menu and wines are to competitor’s choice. One wine is to be served with each course with the first wine served as an aperitif. Water and cafetiere coffee are also to be served. A descriptive menu, including choice of wines, is required. The table is to be set up and first course to be presented and served within 25 minutes, main course within 45 minutes, sweet within 65 minutes and cafetiere coffee within 75 minutes. Time and teamwork are the main factors here with the front and back of house in constant communication to time the service delivery. The team were presented with a bronze medal.
All competitors performed amazingly well and the Cat Sqn are justifiably proud of their achievements. Firstly to volunteer to enter a stressful competition played out in front of their peers from across all units of the RAF, and scrutinised by the same took great courage.
All ranks from across the Logistics branch turn up to see what truly amazing work TG19 produce, this year Lady Hillier was one of the many guests of honour and she enjoyed one of the teams cook and serve menu’s.
It was not only the competitors who dedicated hours to the practicing and entering, each one had a mentor to guide and advise them on their journey to Worthy Down. Sgt Kev Reid and Cpl Aimee Stewart were the people behind the scenes putting in a lot of work to give the competitors the best chance of coming away with an award. Thanks must also go to the managers of the catering outlets for their support for releasing their staff and a huge thank you goes out to the Stn for allowing combined messing to happen so we can support our personnel in their personal and professional development and bring some glory to RAF Waddington.
This is an important competition in the RAF Catering calendar and a prelude to the Inter-Services competition later this year. This outing has fired the enthusiasm of the personnel who entered and has given the rest of the Catering Sqn food for thought; others have now expressed an interest in competing, we may have a bigger contingent for the Inter Services and more trophies to bring back to RAF Waddington.