A SUSSEX chef has risen above hundreds of his peers across the UK and Ireland to scoop a top honour.
Hrvoje Loncoravic, head chef at the American Express Community Stadium – home to Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club – has been voted Best in Class at the Sodexo 2017 Salon Culinaire.
Held annually by Sodexo, Salon Culinaire sees 700 chefs compete head to head in a range of live and static cooking contests.
A Sodexo Chef of the Year finalist earlier this year, the Salon was Hrvoje’s 17th national and international competition and it was his skill in the Sodexo Fish Challenge that led him to victory.
In order to test each candidate’s ability to respond quickly and innovatively, they were given just 10 minutes to decide how to cook a selected fish and Hrvoje’s treatment of a medium-sized sea bass, flavoured with fennel, earned top marks from a panel of judges.
Croatian-born Hrvoje, who represented the UK in the prestigious Escoffier Challenge 2008, finishing third against 13 countries, said his experience and training played a key role in his success.
Previously executive head chef for former Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne’s hotel chain in Hastings, he also worked for Elite Hotels, at The Grand, Eastbourne, as senior sous chef, for six years and spent 16 months as executive head chef at Ashdown Park, East Sussex.
“When the clock is ticking and you have just a few minutes to make a decision, all your experience comes in to play,” he said.
“I have a classical training and that stood me in good stead – fennel and fish are a perfect pairing and I’m just glad I kept a steady hand and was able to cook the dish to the judges’ satisfaction. It was an amazing experience.”
Tony Crosbie, general manager for Sodexo Prestige Venue & Events at the stadium, said the award is well deserved and also paid tribute to Hrvoje’s commitment to mentoring the next generation of chefs.
“Hrvoje is an avid competitor. He wants to win and needs to win,” he said.
“He is also a great developer of young chef talent and coached our former kitchen porter, Taylor Turner, to a best in class in the Pasta Dish Live competition at the same event. Taylor is now a commis chef.”
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