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Sodexo Young Chef of the Year, Kat Barnes, gives us an overview on what it was like to win the title last October and shares advice to anyone thinking of entering this year.
What have you been up to since you won Sodexo Young Chef of the Year at Salon Culinaire last year?
Well, in my role I’ve moved into pastry. I was chef de partie and now I’m senior pastry chef.
For winning the competition I got to the Sodexo Star Awards. It was worth winning the competition just to be invited! It was good to meet other people from Sodexo from different roles and departments.
In March I went to Ecole Lenôtre cookery school in Paris for a four-day training course with Independents by Sodexo. A lot of traditional cooking is French, so it was a great experience.
What did it feel like to win Salon last year?
It was really strange. I don’t normally win, because I don’t normally enter competitions. The way they announced the winners they started by calling out the bronze winners. There were six of them. After that they called my name so I thought I’d got silver. It wasn’t until everyone started screaming around me that I realised I’d got gold!
I went on to win the junior apprentice chef overall, so I had to go up again, which was a bit of surprise. They mark all the young chefs in the all categories out of 100 and I had the most points.
What inspired you to enter Salon in the first place?
When I entered the competition I’d been here for 10 months. One of the things that attracted me to work at Sodexo was competitions. My head chef, who I also worked with in my previous job, was doing a lot of competitions and was doing really well. I’ve seen what it’s done for his career and it’s really inspired me to do the same.
What’s your advice to anyone thinking of entering Sodexo Young Chef of the Year?
Go for it. You can’t lose. There’s nothing bad that can come out it because it’s a great experience.
And what about people who have already entered?
Make sure you’re fully prepared and have practised a lot and you’ve got everything you need ready. And make sure you have a work plan. It seems like the time you have for live competitions isn’t very long, but if you plan everything it will be fine. Just know what you have to do first and the rest will follow.
When it comes to the day keep your head down and ignore everyone in front of you!
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