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Necta North East Chef of The Year - 2012

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It was with genuine sense of pride that GEM Catering & Hospitality was invited to be part of this annual event as the NECTA Recruiter of Choice alongside some of the country's top catering supply companies. There was one common goal; to encourage, raise awareness and showcase the catering and hospitality talent in the North East.

Day one was "Student Day" and what a turn out we had with competitors from colleges including Leeds Metropolitan, Durham College, Tyne Met and Newcastle College all competing for the spoils from live theatre cooking to static dishes on display for all to watch with interest.

The skills on show in the live kitchens include boning and preparing chick for sauté, best lamb dish and a range of other knife skills on demonstration to enable tomorrow's chefs to showcase their talent. It was particularity pleasing to see the team from All Saints College, who were taking this opportunity to prepare for them they open their own Catering Academy, which will offer an excellent platform for budding chefs to hone their skills.

GEM was delighted to present the award for "Best Student;" the winner was an exceptional individual who works for the Tavistock Group called John Carlo Arrojo. During the competition, won three gold medals displaying an array of fantastic skills and was a worthy winner.

necta winner 2012


Day two culminated in the announcement of the North East Chef of the Year; John Connell of Jesmond Meat Merchants claimed this highly prized award. John has been knocking on the door to win this competition having entered and been runner up in the last four years and it was fantastic to see him finally get his hands on the top award!

Noel Barker from Langley Castle came in a close second and James Burton. The level of competition was exceptionally high. OIther entrants included Phil Hall (Double Tree), David Rootes (Holiday Inn Jesmond), John Pattison (Jordans) and Jarrod Bell (Six @ the Baltic) to name but a few of some of the top chefs on show.

The judging panel comprised of respected figures from across the UK invited to offer their views and expertise, ranging from London, Scotland and leading chefs here in the North East. The judges were:

• Paul Wright: Unilever
• Paul Bates: Intercontinental Hotel
• Cyrus Todiwala: Cafe Spice Namaste
• Paul Gayler: Lanesborough Hotel
• Ian McAndrew: Blackaddie House Hotel
• Christopher Basten: Craft Guild of Chefs
• Various: Twenty One Group
• Dave Kennedy

Also a note of recognition to the compares for the event; Kevin Byrne (Chef Consultant) and Nigel Crane (Managing Director - Essential Cuisine) and to all the committee and exhibitors from the Sugar Craft Society who joined forces with NECTA this year to compliment the show with their expertise and demonstrations.

The highlight of the show for GEM Hospitality & Catering was meeting the emerging talent in the region and the having the opportunity to create opportunities with businesses in the North East. At the time of writing we have successfully secured Apprenticeship opportunities for both Josh Dunn and Chris Wilson, both students at Derwentside College, at Black Horse Beamish and Sabatini Newcastle respectively. Dale Watt has also secured a post as Chef de Partie at Prima Pasta.

The after show dinner was another fabulous event. Ian Miller, Operations Director at GEM, hosted a table with guests from the Black Horse Beamish, Andy McCullough and Sarah Mclaren, and Paul Bernadelli from Prima/Fratelli. All in all, an exceptionally well organised show attended by the cream of North East Hospitality and a big thank you goes to Douglas Jordan for the chance to be part of this event as the Recruiter of Choice for NECTA.