The 2023 winners of HIT Training’s chef and brewer competitions were announced last week at a grand finale in London.
On Thursday 12th October, hospitality leaders from across the country gathered to celebrate the grand finale of HIT Training’s Fired Up and Un-Tapped apprentice competitions.
The prestigious event, hosted by national training provider HIT Training at the Kia Oval, London, was attended by over 80 guests, including leading hospitality operators, and showcased the enormous impact of apprenticeships on people seeking and developing a career in hospitality.
The grand finale of HIT Training's Fired-Up and Un-Tapped Apprentice competitions at the Kia Oval, London.
Jo Start, an apprentice chef with BaxterStorey’s Wellcome Genome Campus, was crowned ‘Fired Up Apprentice Chef Winner’ and Aureja Jupp, an apprentice brewer at Three Blind Mice Brewery in Cambridgeshire, was crowned ‘Un-Tapped Apprentice winner.
The competitions, launched in January this year, aimed to unmask future stars of both the culinary and brewing world. Industry expert judges challenged HIT chef and brewer apprentices to demonstrate technical skills as well as knowledge and creative skills worthy of the winning title.
Fired Up judges also scrutinised dishes for sustainability and use of local produce including Future 50 foods. Top entries were chosen to appear in a 2023 ‘Made by Apprentices’ cookbook, which is available in digital format on the HIT Training website.
Fired Up 2023 winner Jo Start (middle), flanked by runners-up Max Hastings (left) and Lewis Weygang (right).
The ‘Fired Up’ competition kicked off with the preliminary ‘The Culinary Showstopper’ round open to 885 chef apprentices, chefs were invited to enter their own showstopper dish listing the ingredients and method, explaining how the dish embraced inclusivity and seasonality.
The top four were then selected to take part in the prestigious Salon Culinaire’s ‘Apprentice Challenge’ at the Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC) event at ExCel London where they faced a live theatre cook-off.
Three apprentices, Jo Start, Max Hastings and Lewis Weygang, were then selected to take part in ‘The Pressure Test’ where they produced a four-course meal in their workplace. The course that most impressed expert judges was then chosen to go through to the final ‘Team Challenge’ which entailed Jo, Max and Lewis leading the brigade for their course, producing over 80 covers for the grand finale Academy Showcase event. The finalists were judged by HIT’s chef academy experts.
Winning chef Jo Start produced a fish course of poached lemon sole, ratte potato, tomato, lemon oil and caramelised shallot and a dessert course of coffee ground brownie, burnt orange, tahini and yuzu.
Max, a Commis Chef at JKS Restaurants, produced roasted celeriac, chilli, pickled courgette and quinoa, and Lewis, a Commis Chef at The Horse and Groom Wilmington, made a starter of wild mushroom arancini with basil oil.
Both Max and Lewis were runners up in the competition.
Un-Tapped 2023 winner Aureja Jupp (left) with runners-up Andrew Thomas (middle) and Tanisha Bishop (right).
The Un-Tapped competition challenged 100 HIT apprentice brewers to create the best-tasting original recipe beer. The preliminary round ‘Into the Mash Tun’ required brewers to submit an original beer recipe, explaining the provenance and characteristics of its principal ingredients.
The top six brews went through to the super six round ‘where contestants were asked to provide a sample of their beer to be taste tested by an expert judging panel. This included a label design containing the name and branding associated with their partnering employer.
Judges then chose the top three brewers to go through to the final taste test round where their beers were served at the HIT Academy Showcase Lunch event. These were judged by an expert panel of brewers, including Rod White, Senior Brewer Lecturer at the University of Nottingham, Mark Tetlow, Head Brewer from Oakham Ales and Jeremy Scorer, HIT Training’s Licensed Trade Director.
Showcase winner Aureja Jupp named her Un-Tapped beer ‘A Box of Sparks’ and described it as a fruity pale ale and one you just can’t stop drinking!
Tanisha Bishop, from Bewdley Brewery in Worcestershire named her beer ‘Rootin-Tootin APA’, a fruity American pale ale, and Andrew Thomas, from Hook Norton Brewery in Banbury called his beer ‘Millhop IPA’ describing it as a golden IPA with slight sweetness.
Both Tanisha and Andrew were Un-Tapped runners up in the competition.
Speaking about the competition and the hugely successful showcase event, HIT Training Executive Chair Jill Whittaker said, “We are so proud of all our competition finalists – they certainly rose to the challenge on the day and put on an amazing four course lunch.
“The event was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the impact of apprenticeships on the hospitality industry and demonstrate how, by working together, training providers and employers really can make a positive difference to the hospitality sector. The future of hospitality is in safe hands with these incredibly talented individuals.”