Compass Cymru, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, the UK's largest food and support services firm, is sponsoring a Welsh student chef’s participation at an international cooking competition in India.
Compass Cymru is sponsoring Ben Newcombe from Cardiff, a Level 3 Hospitality student at Cardiff & Vale College, as he represents Wales at the International Young Chef Olympiad 2023. The competition is taking place in India from 31 January - 5 February 2023.
At age 17, Ben is the only chef to represent Wales in the competition, battling it out against competitors from 60 other countries for the winning title. He was chosen because of his natural flair for cooking and understanding of flavour combinations.
Ben will be supported by mentor, Eric Couturier, deputy head of catering, hospitality & food manufacturing at Cardiff & Vale College, who will accompany Ben to the competition in India. This is the sixth year that a student from Cardiff & Vale College has competed in the contest and Eric has been supporting and coaching Ben since November to perfect the dishes he will prepare during the competition, as well as ensuring his technique, hygiene, health and safety, and cooking practices are all up to scratch.
As part of the sponsorship from Compass Cymru, Ben will have mentoring support from Compass Cymru’s Welsh chef network, including Principality Stadium’s head chef, Ryan Jones; Andrew Draper, head chef at Cardiff City FC; and Compass Cymru’s culinary ambassador, Bryn Williams. Together, they have been supporting the student through 1-1 workshops and cookery lessons ahead of the Olympiad.
Now in its ninth year, the Young Chef Olympiad began as a way to bring the world closer via food, as food unites people. Starting with a grand opening ceremony in New Delhi, the competition will progress through various stages, the first being a skills test incorporating vegetable cutting, a vegetarian main course for four people, and a lemon meringue pie. Twenty participants progress to the second stage, which this year requires them to prepare a French omelette with tomato concasse, a King prawn main course for four people, and a traditional tarte tatin, before the competition culminates in a grand finale in Kolkata on 5 February.
Speaking about the competition, Ben Newcombe said: “This competition is a great opportunity to develop my culinary skills, and I’m excited to travel to India. It has also been good to work with the chefs from Compass Cymru to learn and get advice from them on how to prepare for competitions, and on refining my dishes through plating and presentation.”
Jane Byrd, Compass Cymru’s managing director, said: “At Compass Cymru, we know how important it is to support Welsh people through their careers with training and development opportunities, which is why Ben is sure to benefit from our chef network in preparation for the Young Chef Olympiad competition. Lessons in the lead up to the heats in India from two of our brilliant head chefs Ryan Jones and Andrew Draper, plus our fantastic culinary ambassador, Bryn Williams, will prove invaluable for Ben. We wish him the best of luck and cannot wait to hear about his performance.”
Eric Couturier added: “Compass Cymru’s sponsorship has been a great benefit both financially, to help us with travel, ingredients, and personalised chef whites, as well as through mentorship. Ben’s workshops with Compass Cymru’s chefs have provided a lot of inspiration and given him new ideas to take forward for this competition, and in his future career. We’re very grateful for the support.”