International flavour at Skills Conference

The annual Skills for Chefs and Skills for Service Conferences held in Sheffield showcased international cuisine and service excellence

The conference attracted delegates and renowned presenters from across the world and the business programme included 2 Michelin Starred Chef Jordi Cruz from the ABaC Restaurant in Barcelona, Aiden Byrne from Manchester House,

Cem Erol Executive Chef Instructor at MSA Culinary Academy of Istanbul, Edward Griffiths CVO Deputy Master of The Royal Household and many more.

David McKown, Head of Training and Quality at The University of Sheffield and Director of Skills Conferences commented: “The line up this year was the most eclectic in the history of the conference and the delegates went away inspired and eager to apply the new knowledge in their own businesses.” 

The conference made best use of the facilities at The University of Sheffield and Sheffield City College where the business programme took place in their state of the art facilities. The conference was opened by Paul Gayler MBE who until recently was Executive Chef at the world famous Lanesborough Hotel. 

Paul was interviewed on stage by David McKown and his illustrious career to date was put under the spotlight including his time as Deputy to Anton Mosimann at the Dorchester, Chef Director of Inigo and author of more than 20 books.

The two conferences are now totally integrated with delegates able to choose sessions of their choice over the two days of business. All chefs went to see Jordi Cruz who held the attention throughout his two hour demonstration of eight dishes from his tasting menu.

The session included an amazing Bloody Mary Snow with Seafood and Salted Anchovy, and Calamari Risotto and Brandade of Cod with Tear Drop Peas.

The session was presented in Spanish with Angel Salvador from the Spanish Company 100% Chefs translating for Jordi who also interjected with some of his own explanations in English.

Another highlight from the first day was a culinary masterclass by Michelin Starred Paul Ainsworth who travelled from Padstow in Cornwall to share his food philosophy and culinary skills. Paul prepared a celebration of Cornish Pork that featured several different cuts of meat with some great techniques and flavours. Mick Burke, Senior Lecturer at Sheffield City College completed the line-up of chefs on the first day with an outstanding demonstration of desserts featuring Callebaut Chocolate. 

The Service Conference featured a presented by Stephen Lambert from The University of Brighton on the Art of Competitive Food Service, a session from Caroline Benjamin on Allergy Awareness for Restaurants, and the day finished with a Beer and Food matching session by Alex Barlow, Director of All Beer. 

In the evening residential delegates attended an impressive feast of Turkish Cuisine prepared by a team of chefs led by Cem Erol from MSA. The outstanding menu included Smoked Veal, Salmon Pastrami with Smoked Yogurt and Black Garlic Powder, Veal Tongue, Lamb Shank with Firik Rice and a dessert of Crystallised Pumpkin with Halva and Salep Ice Cream.

The second day from the chefs at conference included a fascinating two-hour demonstration by Aiden Byrne from Manchester House who recently featured in the BBC TV Series Restaurant Wars. Aiden prepared a range of dishes from the renowned restaurant that is the talk of Manchester and beyond. In this action packed session Aiden prepared an outstanding Foie Gras and Hazelnut Mousse, Rice crackers with Mackerel and Sardine, Veal, Girolles and Broad Beans and a signature dish of Pigeon with Bitter Chocolate. 

In smaller masterclass sessions delegates had the opportunity to attend sessions from Cem Erol and Eric Snaith from Titchwell Manor. In the session by Cem all the delegates received a sample of Salep, a powder made from the root of orchids, together with a recipe for Turkish ice cream that uses the product previously unknown to many chefs at the conference.

Eric presented a number of dishes with many opportunities for the chefs to taste his dishes that included, Brie de Meaux Custard, Bread Pudding, Pickled Grapes and Mackerel with Caviar and Lime Mayonnaise.

Another highlight of the second day for the chefs was an excellent presentation by Spanish Chef, Angel Salavador an Argentinian Chef, Martin Lippo who showcased a range of modern techniques featuring products and equipment that is available in the market place for the most innovative and experimental chefs in this fast moving profession. This master class also featured a cameo appearance by Jordi Cruz who one again lit up the kitchen with his skills and style. 

The Skills for Service conference also had an international feel on the second day with a presentation by Ted Stone CEO of Customer First who hails from Texas. Ted gave a detailed and interesting insight into service excellence having himself been in charge of VIP service in famous Las Vegas Hotels. The session was of great interest to delegates who are now well placed to consider their own strategy for delivering VIP service in their own establishments. A highlight of the service business programme was the fascinating opportunity to learn from Edward Griffiths CVO about hospitality service within Buckingham Palace. Edward is in charge of all hospitality within Royal Palaces and he has strategically managed many state occasions and the delegates were fascinated with the attention to detail and service standards in place for these occasions. 

The final session of the Skills for Service Conference was a food and wine pairing session delivered by Neil Philips, known as the Wine Tipster, for his expertise in wines and his ability to tip winners on the horse racing circuit.

Delegates tasted a range of Champagnes, Wines, Sherries and Ports matched to some outstanding desserts prepared by Sheffield City College.

The finale of the conference was the Gala Dinner held at Inox Dine, the new restaurant and banqueting suites at The University of Sheffield. The dinner was created by a team from Inox Dine, and staff and students from Sheffield City College. Each course was matched to a bottled beer selected by Alex Barlow. This was the first beer and food pairing dinner held in the history of the conference and it was a major success. At the end of the dinner, Joe Berry Head Chef from Inox Dine was made a member of the Master Chefs of Great Britain and the presentation was made by Clive Roberts, Chairman of the Master Chefs of Great Britain. 

For further details on the annual Skills for Chefs and Skills for Service Conference visit:

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