Meet the two local chefs hoping to cook up a top prize this week

By Luke Williams   |   Reporter   |
Wednesday 23rd February 2022 12:00 pm
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Falon Baile and Stephanie Belcher.
Falon Bailie and Stephanie Belcher. (. )

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A 17-year-old chef from Three Cocks and a chef at a Brecon countryside hotel are among five culinary aces up for a top national award.

Falon Bailie, 17, from Three Cocks and Stephanie Belcher, 21, sous chef at Peterstone Court Hotel, are in with a chance of a lifetime trip to the Worldchefs Congress 2022 in Abu Dhabi, as part of the attractive prize awaiting the winner of the Junior Chef of Wales final this week.

Falon and Stephanie are two of the five Welsh chefs will be showcasing their skills in the final tomorrow at the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC), hosted by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s campus in Rhos-on-Sea from February 22-24.

The prestigious Junior Chef of the Wales contest is organised by the Culinary Association of Wales (CAW).

The five chefs will have three hours to prepare and cook a three course meal for four people, including mostly Welsh ingredients, a seafood starter or fish appetiser will be followed by a main course featuring one prime cut and one secondary cut of Welsh Beef and a seasonal dessert including chocolate and one hot element.

Apart from claiming the prestigious Junior Chef of Wales title and dragon trophy, the winner will have a chance to attend the Worldchefs Congress 2022 in Abu Dhabi from May 30 to June 2 with Culinary Association of Wales delegates.

The winning chef will also qualify for the semi-finals of the Young National Chef of the Year contest, organised by the Craft Guild of Chefs and receive support from the Junior Culinary Team Wales, a set of knives from Friedr Dick and £100 of products from Churchill.

The winner will be announced at a the WICC Presentation Dinner to be held at the Imperial Hotel, Llandudno on the evening of February 24.

Stephanie, from Abergavenny, will be making her culinary competition debut. She gained valuable experience when she was 17 by doing stages at Michelin starred restaurants in London including Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano.

She previously worked at Llangoed Hall, Llyswen where she progressed from commis chef to chef de partie and achieved a Foundation Apprenticeship in Hospitality and Beverage.

She attributes her classical cooking style with modern influences to her time at Cardiff and Vale College’s The Classroom restaurant and names chef Angharad Challoner as the greatest influence on her career to date

Stephanie’s ambition is the run her own sustainable, self-contained restaurant on her parents’ farm.

“I am going into the final with the ambition to win but, honestly, it’s an achievement to even make it to this stage considering it’s my first ever culinary competition,” she said. “So long as I do my dishes proud, I will be very happy.”

Falon, who is working towards a Professional Cookery Level 2, is currently acting head chef at Foyles of Glasbury, Glasbury.

He describes his developing cooking style as classic with a twist. He says the greatest influence on his career to date are his parents and his ambition is to become the youngest head chef with a Michelin star.

“I hope my dishes go down brilliantly with the judges in the final,” said Falon, who is making his competition debut. “It would be great to win and get my name out there.

“I will be cooking scallops with a twist as my starter, fillet of Welsh Beef as main course and a dessert inspired by a Bryn Williams masterclass.”

The other three finalists are Katie Duffy, 17, an apprentice at Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli; Dalton Cain Weir, 22, from Llandudno, head chef at Watson’s Bistro, Conwy and Cai Morris, 21, from Llandegfan, chef de partie at The Bull, Beaumaris.

The WICC’s main sponsor is Food and Drink Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government’s department representing the food and drink industry. Other sponsors include Castel Howell, Churchill, Major International, Riso Gallo, Dick Knives, MCS Tech Products, Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Cambrian Training Company, Roller Grill and Ecolab.

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