Winners of Coeliac UK’s Gluten-free Chef of the Year competition 2013 announced

Adam Gray, winners Jonathan Farmer (centre) and Thomas Fallows (right).

A panel of industry judges has announced the winners of the 2013 Coeliac UK’s Gluten-free Chef of the Year competition following an intense cook off by six finalists on Tuesday, 19 November 2013.

Now in its fourth year, the competition was run by Coeliac UK, the national charity for people with coeliac disease, in association with the Institute of Hospitality and the Craft Guild of Chefs with the cook off event being held at the Unilever Food Solutions Culinary Business Development Centre in Leatherhead.

The panel of judges included Michelin starred chef Adam Gray from London restaurant Skylon, chef Daniel Ayton of 51 Buckingham Gate and Saint James Court Hotel and Malcolm Emery, Executive Chef for Sodexo Prestige.

The competition required a three course bistro style gluten-free meal to be designed and recreated during the live final. The event aims to raise awareness and highlight the need for increased provision of gluten-free menu options for the 1 in 100 people in the UK who have coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten, for which the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life.

The competition comprised two categories: Gluten-free Chef of the Year, for professional chefs, and Up and Coming Gluten-free Chef of the Year for catering students aged 23 and under. Entrants’ skills were showcased in their ability to cook gluten-free substitutes such as bread, pasta or batter from scratch in the live final.

After 90 minutes of high pressured cooking from the finalists and after much debate and deliberation by the judges, the winner was announced as Thomas Fallows, who is the Assistant Chef at Hindelini’s Gourmet Café in Ribblesdale Park and who has just started studying Professional Cookery Level 2 VRQ at Accrington and Rossendale College in September 2013.

Runner up was Carol Salisbury, Chef Manager at 1 Call Direct from Renfrew, Renfrewshire, and the third finalist was Christopher Bridge, Head Chef at Ravenstone Manor and Charlotte’s View restaurant from Keswick, Cumbria.

In the Up and Coming category, Jonathan Farmer from Norwich, Norfolk who is studying VRQ Level 2 Professional Cookery at City College Norwich was announced as the winner.  Runner up was Kathryn Holmes from East Hunsbury, Northampton.

All finalists and judges

Adam Gray said: “To cook in a live final isn’t an easy feat so I want to congratulate all of the finalists - the judges certainly enjoyed tasting some exceptional dishes. Hundreds of thousands of people are looking for gluten-free options and the demand for skilled chefs is on the increase, this competition showcases some excellent talent and raises the awareness of the need to cater for the gluten-free diet.”

Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive of Coeliac UK, said: “This competition and the industry support we gain through it  highlights the need for improved gluten-free catering which is of benefit to both the customer with coeliac disease and the business that is securing their custom by catering for their diet.”

“1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease and this represents a potential £100 million market amongst those diagnosed with the condition and the friends and family they eat out with. Some relatively simple changes can make all the difference and we have seen a number of leading high street catering establishments who have been working with us recently enter this market and make a success at it. In addition there are numerous people in schools, hospitals, prisons and care homes who have no choice of where they can eat so it is essential that those in such establishments also have access to gluten-free food.”

Thomas Fallows wins a week long stage working under two Michelin starred chef Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles. Jonathan Farmer wins a week long stage at Michelin-starred The Pass at South Lodge working under chef Matt Gillan. Both winners also win a set of knives courtesy of 3663 and all six finalists were presented with a year’s membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs and gift vouchers from Sodexo.

Coeliac disease is not a food allergy but an autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten.  Damage to the gut lining occurs when gluten is eaten. There is no cure or medication for the condition. The only treatment is a life long gluten-free diet. Without a gluten-free diet, the disease can lead to other conditions, such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility problems and also can cause bowel cancer.