Fourteen Venues from across the UK went head-to-head last weekend at the annual Venues of Excellence Cook and Serve Challenge 2024

Venues of Excellence (VOE) in partnership with Wilson Vale, were delighted to see the annual Cook and Serve challenge back on the calendar after four long years.

The competition sees VOE member venues strive to create culinary masterpieces and provide outstanding service to invited guests. It recognises the best individual courses and services in both junior and senior categories, as well as the coveted Champion Chef, Food Service Champion, and Chairman’s Best Team Awards.

Venues of Excellence were delighted to partner with Wilson Vale, and the competition theme featured ‘The gold thread of Excellence’, with venues given the challenge of preparing and service a three-course menu that showcases their personality and their venue using a minimum of five ingredients from a provided list.

Riccardo Corbinzolu, Operations Director, Wilson Vale who organised the competition, commenting on this year’s competitors said: “I couldn’t be happier with how the competition turned out on Saturday. The standard this year was exceptional, and it’s hard to believe it was the first Cook and Serve for each competitor. I want to extend my sincere thanks to all the competitors for their hard work and commitment to delivering outstanding food and service.

A special thank you to our competition host, Nicky Randall, and her team at Leicester College, who pulled out all the stops to ensure everything ran smoothly. I also want to thank our friends at Nottingham Venues for hosting a show-stopping evening. I’m thrilled to see this new generation of competitors and can’t wait to see what they bring to next year’s competition. Plans are already in motion, and you can expect to see some exciting twists in the format, making it even more engaging for 2025!”

This year’s Awards Ceremony was held at Nottingham Venues EMCC and the Orchard Hotel.  The venue welcomed over 100 guests to celebrate the 2024 winner.  Peter Bartlett, Hotel Manager of Nottingham Venues’ Orchard hotel said: “There was incredible talent on show throughout the Cook and Serve challenge and we are proud to have hosted the awards dinner at the East Midlands Conference Centre and accommodated the guests at The Orchard Hotel. The hard work of everyone involved deserves to be recognised and celebrated, and we did just that! The Nottingham Venues’ team ensured everyone had a memorable evening.”  

After dinner, the Awards were presented by judges and sponsors to the event.  Munashe Muchenje from Ashorne Hill was named Champion Chef, with Katie Newham from Imago Venues – Burleigh Court winning Food Service Champion. The Chairman’s Team Award went to Chris Raynor and Katie Newham at Imago Venues – Burleigh Court.

To deliver the Cook and Serve Challenge 2024, VOE partnered with Leicester College to host the competition, and aspects of the event were sponsored by: LWC Drinks, Bidfood, Mathew Algie, Weston Park, Rothamsted Enterprises, Tree-V, Paddy & Scott’s, Steelite International and View It 360.

Mandy Jennings, CEO of Venues of Excellence, reflecting on the event and the opportunity for member venues to showcase their food and beverage excellence, said about this year’s event; “It was so exciting to have this prestigious event back on the Venues of Excellence calendar and to see the amazing culinary talent we have in our member venues. Quality and excellence is our main goal and focus in all we do, and this competition never fails to bring out the very best skills and service levels our teams offer. We are so very proud to represent 54 of the best conference and event venues in the UK and this event truly showcases just how outstanding the teams in our venues are.”

Venues of Excellence and Wilson Vale were delighted to see member venues committed to showcase their team talents and look forward to planning the 2025 event.

The full list of winners of the Cook and Serve Challenge 2024 are:

Best Starter (Junior): Dilhan Sariffo’deen, Victory Services Club

Best Starter (Senior): Munashe Muchenje, Ashorne Hill

Best Main Course (Junior): Dilhan Sariffo’deen, Victory Services Club

Best Main Course (Senior): Rhys Hodgson, Rhodes House

Best Dessert (Junior): Lena Cybulska, Wyboston Lakes Resort

Best Dessert (Senior): Robert Perez, Weston Park

Best Cocktails (Junior): Elloise Hart, Wyboston Lakes Resort

Best Cocktails (Senior): Katie Newham, Imago Venues – Burleigh Court

Best Beverage Selection (Junior): Jessica Bunnage, Wyboston Lakes Resort

Best Beverage Selection (Senior): Stuart Barker, Rhodes House

Best Beverage Service (Junior): Jessica Bunnage, Wyboston Lakes Resort

Best Beverage Service (Senior): Katie Newham, Imago Venues – Burleigh Court

Best Food Service (Junior): Jessica Bunnage, Wyboston Lakes Resort

Best Food Service (Senior): Katie Newham, Imago Venues – Burleigh Court

Food Service Champion: Katie Newham, Imago Venues – Burleigh Court

Champion Chef: Munashe Muchenje, Ashorne Hill

Chairman’s Best Team Award: Chris Raynor and Katie Newham, Imago Venues – Burleigh Court

The Champion Chef Menu:

King Scallop Satay, Pickled White Grape, Apple, Roasted Peanut, Black Rice Cracker, Coriander & Lime Oil

***

Beef Fillet, Celeriac & Black Garlic Puree, Roscoff Onion, Braised Ox Cheek, Bone Marrow Crumb, Sweet & Sour Onion, Butter Roasted Celeriac, Truffle Jus, Watercress

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Banoffee Tart, Whipped Chocolate Ganache, Miso Caramel, Caramelised Banana, Banana Ice Cream, Banana Tuille

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