Servest Catering chef Rhys Richardson celebrates Blue Arrow Chef of the Year honour

Rhys Richardson, development chef at Servest Catering, with his Blue Arrow Chef of the Year trophy.

Rhys Richardson, development chef at Servest Catering, with his Blue Arrow Chef of the Year trophy. - Credit: Archant

Rhys Richardson, development chef at Servest Catering, par of Bury St Edmunds-based facilities management group Servest, has been named Blue Arrow Chef of the Year.

The competition, now in its third year, is run by the Blue Arrow employment agency to give up-and-coming culinary professionals a chance to showcase their talent in front of industry experts.

A total 30 chefs entered the contest, with four finalists qualifying via two semi-final events, and Mr Richardson was the unanimous choice of the three judges as overall winner.

He said: “I’m over the moon! A lot of hard work and planning has gone in to creating my dishes and I’m chuffed that each dish looked and tasted the way I wanted.”

“ I couldn’t have done much more, so I’m elated with the feedback the judges gave me. I couldn’t have asked for better praise.”

The contestants in the final had just three hours to cook a four-course meal, consisting of their signature dishes, under the watchful eye of an expert panel of judges. There was even an extra challenge in the form of the fish course, for which all four contestants had to prepare a dish using set ingredients, including hand-dived scallops.

On the judging panel were Richard Skinner, executive chef for Artizian Catering (and Blue Arrow’s first Chef of the Year in 2013), Sudha Saha, executive head chef at the Saffron Group, and Mark Sargeant, a renowned Michelin star chef. They were tasked with judging the originality, skill and flavour combinations, as well as the visual presentation, use of seasonal ingredients and the complexity of each dish.

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Mr Richardson’s winning menu was: Starter – Venison tartare, crispy quail’s egg, smoked emulsion and beetroot; Fish –Duo of hand-dived scallops, Granny Smith apple, hazelnut crème fraîche, chorizo oil and pea shoots; Main – Pan seared partridge, horseradish mash, black cabbage, date purée and pomegranate reduction; and Dessert – Clementine cheesecake, gingerbread and pickled cranberries.

His food was described by the judges as “absolutely delicious” and the presentation of his dishes received especially high praise. His fish course was the standout dish on his menu, being highly acclaimed for its innovative combination of flavours and mouth-watering presentation.

In addition to being named Blue Arrow Chef of the Year, Mr Richardson was awarded a personalised chef’s jacket and a five-star gourmet weekend break to Rome with £1,500 spending money.

Toni Richards of Blue Arrow said: “It was amazing to see such talent at work. We would like to thank all those who entered, and the support we received from our judges and clients has been phenomenal. A huge congratulations from everyone at Blue Arrow to Rhys and Servest on this fantastic achievement.”