Brains Chef of the Year 2009

Abergavenny Chef Crowned Brains Best

Matthew LewisAn Abergavenny pub chef has been crowned Brains chef of the year 2009. Matthew Lewis, from the Lamb and Flag in Llanwenarth, fought off strong competition to take the title after delighting judges with his three course menu.

Matthew was one of six chefs taking part in the competition, held at the head office of Castell Howell Foods in Cross Hands. Each chef was called upon to create and cook a three course menu based on the style of food suited to their pub. They were judged on presentation, taste, balance of dishes and food safety.

Deciding on the winning menu was a five strong judging panel made up of Welsh Culinary Association members Arwyn Watkins, Colin Gray, Nick Davies, Waynne Roberts and Gareth Johns.

Judges described Matthew as delivering the most consistent performance across three courses, which included a starter of Steamed Mussels and Chorizo, a main course of Mediterranean Chicken and Tagliatelle and a Chocolate and Cherry Tiramisu dessert. He was presented with a cheque from Brains, vouchers from Nestle and a knife set from Rational.

Jamie Lewis from Churchills Hotel in Cardiff and Martin Morgan from The Star in Dinas Powys were named runner-up. The remaining finalists were Claire Barrell from the Lamb & Flag; Adam Tudor from Churchills; and Gareth Webb from the Black Lion in Lampeter.

Judges and chefsArwyn Watkins (pictured left with other members of the Welsh Culinary Association and the finalists) said: "The overall standard was very good and the judges identified a number of dishes that have been developed as a direct result of the competition that would grace any pub menu. A very good indicator of the quality and standard of the cooking was demonstrated by clean plates following the judges tasting.

"It was a pleasure being involved in the development and execution of this competition and a secure foundation has been established to help raise the profile of the chefs skills across the Brains estate."

Jill Matthews, (pictured front centre)Head of Catering at Brains added: "Long gone are the days when pub food meant a poor ploughman’s or a packet of cheese and onion crisps. Brains pubs today are serving great food whether they are in the heart of the community with a regular trade of locals or in a drive to location with a more sophisticated food offer. Customers are increasingly choosing to eat in our pubs where they know they can get both great food and value in preference to restaurants."