Young Chef Crowned Champion & Bags Trip to Norway at Inaugural Fjord To Fork Professional Chefs Development Competition

Young Chef Crowned Champion & Bags Trip to Norway at Inaugural Fjord To Fork Professional Chefs Development Competition

Talented Young Chef, Alex Barnes was yesterday crowned Champion in the inaugural Fjord To Fork, Professional Chefs Development Competition with the Norwegian Seafood Council and Westminster Kingsway College. The winning dish stunned judges including Michelin Starred Chef and Fjord Trout Ambassador, Daniel Galmiche and the Craft Guild of Chefs for its attention to detail and skills to showcase Fjord Trout with elegant simplicity. To celebrate, it's off to Norway for Alex to see, taste and learn about Fjord Trout at source. 

The inaugural competition with Westminster Kingsway College and the Craft Guild of Chefs tasked students to design and cook with one of Norway’s best kept secrets, Fjord Trout; a sea-reared trout with deep red-orange flesh and rich nutty flavours, making it perfectly-suited for modern restaurant menus.

For the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) and product Ambassador Daniel Galmiche, this has been an opportunity to educate the next generation of chefs about the versatility of Fjord Trout in cooking and also about the importance of sustainable fisheries management in Norway. The competition, held April – May, culminated yesterday in a live final held at Westminster Kingsway College.

The winning dish, designed & cooked by Chef Alex Barnes:

'Simply cured & sous vide Norwegian Fjord Trout, gently flaked with mango salsa and an avocado & coriander mousse, garnished with crispy fried mung bean noodles'

The Fjord To Fork Competititon

Second year students at Westminster Kingsway College were tasked to design and produce a starter or main course dish showcasing Norwegian Fjord Trout. This followed a briefing seminar, led by Daniel Galmiche and Chef Lecturer José Souto on the provenance and sustainability of Norwegian Fjord Trout, and masterclasses on how to treat the fish with culinary respect and clever flavour combinations to take dishes to the next level.

Competition guidelines stated that recipes should be for a brasserie-style menu that best shows off the quality and versatility of Norwegian Fjord Trout. Recipes were shortlisted by a paper entry judging panel and from this, 10 finalists were selected for the live cook off on 16th May at Westminster Kingsway College. Competitors were then given a maximum of 2 hours to create and present an original and inspired dish showcasing Fjord Trout. Daniel Galmiche and NSC worked with a panel of expert judges from Westminster Kingsway College and The Craft Guild of Chefs to taste and consider each dish and the top three dishes were awarded their prizes at an informal awards ceremony following the cook off. 

The much sought after first prize, won by Chef Alex Barnes

An educational trip to Norway to see Fjord Trout at source plus Fjord Trout for a year, NSC chef whites, engraved Flint & Flame 8” chef knife (courtesy of Flint & Flame) & Student Membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs for one year (courtesy of the Craft Guild of Chefs).

Comments from the winner, Chef Alex Barnes, Second Year Student at Westminster Kingsway College

“I’m overwhelmed and 100% excited to go to Norway to see and taste Fjord Trout at source!

Coming into the summer months, I was inspired to produce a dish with fresh, cleansing tastes to go with the Fjord Trout. The fish has a very delicate flavour, so for me it needed something like a salsa and mousse to lift the dish and make it nice and refreshing on the palate.

It’s been really interesting to work with Fjord Trout as the common trout is particularly earthy and strong in flavour, whereas fjord trout is very delicate.”

Michelin Starred Chef and Fjord Trout Ambassador, Daniel Galmiche comments on the winning dish

“I really loved the balance and elegance of this dish – it was delightfully fresh. I think for me it heightened another side of Fjord Trout with a very slight acidity, which I really enjoyed. And then balancing this acidity and freshness with crunchiness from the mung bean noodles, the textures were perfect too. For me, that’s the way that I would eat Fjord Trout.

Competitions aren’t easy. It was fantastic to see the students working with so many techniques and seasonal produce and I was amazed, for second years, for how well they did. Overall, they were not far away from each other in points – this was a very close competition. The students were so confident, clean and organised at their work stations – you’d think they’d done this forever. Here’s to next year!”

Westminster Kingsway College Chef Lecturer, José Souto said

“What we are showing here is a really good quality fish – it has a beautiful colour and is full of flavour and smooth textures – the winning dish celebrated all these qualities. Sometimes the time of year can affect the dish and how we eat it, but what we always like to eat is a dish that refreshes the palate. Often with fish, this can be difficult to achieve but Alex’s dish had some real refreshing flavours running through it. Slightly curing the fish and giving it a lightly pickled flavour worked well and the flavours and textures of his dish married supremely, showing off Norwegian fjord trout for what it is – an exceptional product. Alex is going to have a fantastic time out in Norway – it is a beautiful country with a lot to offer to our aspiring chefs.”

Andrew Green, CEO Craft Guild of Chefs remarks

“Here at the Craft Guild we really embrace all that is good about the excellent fish from Norway, and Fjord Trout is a great example of fish that is both versatile to cook with, stunning to look at and has the most excellent taste profile. The standard here today was really excellent. We saw a few basic errors, but we would expect that. A competition like this really shows off the talent that we have in this country. When we give the entrants the same ingredient to showcase, we see their own interpretation, style and flavours. We can easily see individual skills, techniques (smoking, curing, sous vide, pan-fried…) and styles with the students making the dish their own. Individuality really is key in this market.”

 Jack-Robert Møller, UK Director at Norwegian Seafood Council comments

“Alex’s dish was outstanding, especially when you consider he is just two years into his qualification. His attention to detail and inspired combination of fresh flavours and textures was the perfect showcase for Fjord Trout and we look forward to taking Alex out to Norway to learn more about this special fish at its source. Norway has impeccable standards when it comes to the management of sustainable fisheries and our aquaculture techniques are considered to be among the best in the world. Combining hard-earned experience, advanced technology and the natural conditions, our industry is able to produce high quality, sea-reared Fjord Trout worthy of a premium position in the market. We hope that this competition has educated and inspired our next generation chefs to incorporate Fjord Trout into their future menus!”