Top TV Chefs go Pan to Pan in Chefs’ Forum Cook-off

The brightest and best culinary talent from Bath and the Cotswolds gathered at Ellenborough Park in Cheltenham yesterday (Tuesday, September 15).

The event, organised by The Chefs’ Forum, saw Ellenborough Park Executive Chef, David Kelman demonstrate two of the dishes from his menu, before going pan to pan in a cook off with fellow Great British Menu contestant Emily Watkins from the Kingham Plough.

The chefs were greeted at noon by a stunning canapé and Peller Icewine Cuvée Rose reception. Students from Gloucester College worked with David Kelman all morning to produce a fabulous array of canapés, showcasing host venue Ellenborough Park’s three AA rosette menu.  The canapés and Icewine Cuvée were also expertly served to the industry guests by the students who were a real credit to their college.

The learners received offers of work from the employer guests as a result of their faultless chef and front of house skills – It is the creation of this opportunity platform for young people to meet employers and forge links with them that is the main driving force behind Chefs’ Forum events.

It was then time for BBC2’s Great British Menu stars Emily Watkins and David Kelman to go ‘pan to pan’ in a highly entertaining and impressive cook-off using a mystery selection of seasonal produce selected by Chefs’ Forum sponsors.

The pair were given a selection of ingredients to use, provided by sponsors Total Produce, Walter Rose & Son Butchers and Forest Produce, which included duck breast, gizzards and liver as well as a selection of fresh vegetables including rainbow chard, figs and cep mushrooms! The chefs had 45 minutes to create a dish before the guests voted on a winner.

David cooked devilled liver and kidneys with pearl barley and artichoke and a pan-fried duck breast on a bed of vegetables cooked with honey and soy, but it was Emily’s creation of duck terrine and parfait wrapped in chard with fig chutney and carpaccio of figs which won the day, and a prize of the use of a luxury Audi Q7 for the weekend, supplied by Tetbury Audi.

There wasn’t much in it and Emily won by just two votes!

Emily said: “It was really nerve wracking. I always want to do the best I can, whatever I’m doing. We had great seasonal produce to work with and the ingredients are the sort of thing that are commonly found in our kitchen so I didn’t feel too far out of my comfort zone. But it’s always nerve racking cooking in front of fellow chefs.”

After a barbecue lunch the assembled chefs were led on a forage around Ellenborough Park’s stunning grounds by David Harrison, personal forager to Michelin-starred Simon Hulstone from The Elephant in Torquay.

Chefs’ Forum events give chefs the opportunity to network, exchange ideas and meet top producers and suppliers from across the region.

Chef David Kelman said: “I think the Chefs’ Forum is great because chefs don’t normally get much opportunity to talk and network with each other.  It gives us the chance to meet up, see other places and have a bit of fun as well. It’s a great event for chefs.”

Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum stated:
“There was a real buzz at today’s event; I think it was one of the best yet.  The Cook-off, a first for The Chefs’ Forum, enabled us to showcase the tremendous skill sets held by both David and Emily as well as the finest seasonal produce and latest techniques on the best equipment.  This epitomised The Chefs’ Forum and how we love to enthuse and inspire the next generation as well as top chefs already in industry”.

The Chefs’ Forum will be hosting an autumn lunch at the Manor House at Castle Combe in aid of Hospitality Action on October 13.

Emily will be joined in the kitchen by host Richard Davies (The Manor House Hotel), Sam Moody (The Bath Priory), Jon Howe (Lumière), Hywel Jones (Lucknam Park) and James Durrant (The Plough Inn at Longparish), who will each be cooking a course.

Tickets cost £95 and 65 are available (advance bookings only) from Joanne Thom in the Events Team at The Manor House Tel: 01249 784830 or email:  – full payment is required at time of booking.

Photography by Andrew Plant: