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University hosts first-of-its-kind Welsh hospitality competition to promote next generation of talent

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University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) hosted Wales’ first ever Young Chef Young Waiter competition at the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea on Tuesday.

In a MasterChef-style event, eight young professionals living in Wales and working in the Hospitality sector battled for the chance to become the Welsh champions who’ll attend the upcoming global final in Monaco.

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The winning Chef was Ali Halbert, 26, of Heaneys, and the winning Waiter was Tilly Morris, 21, of Grove of Narberth.

An expert judging panel, made up of 10 of Wales’ leading hospitality figures, observed every step of the process and passed on wisdom and advice to help contestants develop their skills.

In addition to impressing the ten judges, the competitors prepared and served a three-course lunch to 16 industry experts who assisted in the judging process based on their overall experience.

The winning Chef was Ali Halbert, 26, of Heaneys in Cardiff
The winning Waiter was Tilly Morris, 21, of Grove of Narberth.

An award ceremony and gala dinner was held in the evening to announce the winners, during which contestants’ families and members of the Welsh Hospitality sector gathered to enjoy food and entertainment, providing individuals and businesses from the length and breadth of Wales’ vibrant food scene with an opportunity to network and socialise since the pandemic.

UWTSD’s long history of Higher Education in Wales includes a well-established school of Hospitality and Tourism that brings enhanced opportunities to the people of Wales. Forging strong links with businesses and industry partners to build networks that elevate students and communities, the University says it was delighted to host the competition and expand this network to incorporate the wider Welsh Hospitality sector.

Championing the country’s distinctive heritage, language and culture through its activities, the University works hard to ensure that Wales is connected to the wider world. The Young Chef Young Waiter competition, established in England in 1979, has never been held in Wales before, so this year’s winners are the first duo to represent the country on the world stage and be given the chance to be crowned World Young Chef or Young Waiter.

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The competition spotlighted the country’s excellent produce, exciting talent and the establishments in which these talents were nurtured. Contestants were asked to respond to the theme of ‘Inspired by Wales’, and were provided with ingredients by local food and drinks producers who sponsored the competition alongside other suppliers, hospitality venues and events companies in partnership with UWTSD.

One sponsor was Neil Kedward, Managing director of Seren Collection which has partnered with UWTSD to host students on placement to provide dual sector education for the International Gastronomy Management degree.

Neil says: “There has never been a better time to enter the Welsh hospitality sector which has so many thriving venues working at the top of their game.

“The Young Chef Young Waiter Competition works to acknowledge the many young professionals working at the highest performance levels within our sector right now. Seren is delighted to partner with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in the delivery of this competition in Wales, and I hope all those who entered have learned something important from competing against their peers in this way.”

Winner of the Waiter category, Tilly Morris, says: “It’s been such a great experience and I’ve learnt so much from working in this way with people I didn’t know before I arrived. I’m so excited and a little bit speechless, but I can’t wait to represent Wales in Monaco! Today’s been the best day of my life!”

Dr Jayne Griffith-Parry, Chair of Judges and Programme Manager for Gastronomy and Hotel Management courses at UWTSD says: “It’s been fantastic to see what all our competitors are bringing to the Welsh hospitality industry – passion, skill dedication and flare – proving that the hospitality profession is going from strength to strength in Wales. I can’t wait to open up the applications for next year’s World young Chef Young Waiter Wales competition already!”

Hywel Griffith, Head Chef of Beach House and lead chef judge for the competition adds: “It’s really great to see the University working with industry in this way to promote and put a spotlight on the young talent we have here in Wales. It’s been a pleasure to watch these young professionals work and to see people from all across Wales’ hospitality sector brought together by this event.”

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(Lead image: UWTSD)

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