A Kenilworth chef has expressed his excitement after reaching the British Culinary Federation’s (BCF) Young Chef of the Year final to be held in Birmingham on Monday November 2.
James Toth, 20, is a chef de partie at the Cross in New Street and started working in restaurants at the age of 14, working as a porter and potwasher in the nearby Woodside hotel in Glasshouse Lane.
He joined the Kenilworth restaurant aged 18 part-time so he could study alongside his work, and secured his catering qualifications from University College Birmingham (UCB) last year.
James, who has lived in the town all his life and attended Kenilworth School, was inspired to start a career as a chef by his father, a chef himself.
He said: “I’ve always had an interest in food - there was always lots of cooking going on at home.
“I really want to push myself as a chef and I definitely want to be a head chef with a Michelin star in the future.
I’m reasonably confident I can win this contest because I’ve got a lot of experience and knowledge. I’m excited for it to be honest.James Toth
“I’m reasonably confident I can win this contest because I’ve got a lot of experience and knowledge. I’m excited for it to be honest.”
James decided to enter the contest after chef director at the Cross, Adam Bennett, who James described as a “great boss”, encouraged him to do so.
He also saw Isaac Joyce, another chef at the Cross, participate in the contest last year and wanted to have a go himself.
James will be up against 15 other young chefs from across the country during the contest, which involves cooking a three-course meal for two covers in the space of two hours in the Bonnet kitchen in UCB.
To qualify in the first place, James had to submit his menu idea to the BCF, including details on the methods used to cook the three dishes.
The starter had to include fish or shellfish and the main course had to include pork, but the entrants were given free rein over the choice of their dessert.
On the day, James will have to put his ideas into practice and impress a panel of six judges who have extensive culinary backgrounds.
They will mark the chefs on criteria including presentation and content, working methods, professional techniques and culinary skills, hygiene practices, timing and quality and balance of textures.
The winner will be presented with the David Bache Trophy along with a cheque for £250 and a framed certificate, commemorative plate and place on a study tour to Luxembourg with ceramics company Villeroy & Boch.
Additionally, prizes will also be awarded to the chef who produces the best starter, best main course and best dessert.
Peter Griffiths, competition organiser and president of the British Culinary Federation, said: “Over the years we have seen the standard and individual styles and culinary skills of participants continue to improve, and expect this year’s competition to be no exception.”
Andreas Antona, owner of The Cross, is delighted that James made it to the final.
He said: “The Young Chef of the Year will be a tough challenge but I have every confidence that James will do The Cross proud.”