A talented young chef from South East London has won the coveted title of Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year 2016.
Ray Steplin, 22, who works at the House of Commons, battled it out in a Masterchef-style cook-off at University College Birmingham (UCB). The winners were announced at an official awards dinner at UCB.
As well as the honour of being the 2016 Young Chef of the Year, Ray Steplin has also won a once in a lifetime trip to Hong Kong where he will gain an insight into the hospitality industry at Michelin starred restaurants and explore the region’s cultural highlights.
When asked what inspired him to enter Wing Yip Oriental Cookery Young Chef of the Year, Ray said:
“Definitely the Chefs at the House of Commons, and the prestige associated with the British Culinary Federation. I’m also aware of previous winners having achieved great experience and opportunities from entering.
“Hearing my name read out as the winner for this year’s Wing Yip Oriental Young Chef of the Year was extraordinary.
“I know I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for the support I’ve been given along the way, which is why I would like to say thank you to Wing Yip for giving this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but also the British Culinary Federation and my chef and management at the House of Commons for all of their help.”
Putting Ray and the other finalists through their paces was a renowned panel of judges – President of the British Culinary Federation Peter Griffiths, Michelin starred Chef Glynn Purnell and 2013 MasterChef finalist, Larkin Cen.
To receive a place in the cook-off, finalists were required to submit a two-course Oriental menu idea, featuring a street food starter and a quality restaurant standard main.
Ray wowed the judges with a starter of an oxtail and wasabi steamed bun, glazed with ponzu prune sauce, Oriental slaw and pickled radish, followed by a main of seared miso black cod with courgette, black radish and carrot tender noodles, dashi chicken broth and squid ink tapioca crisp.
Chairman of the judges and President of the British Culinary Federation, Peter Griffiths said: “Now in its fourth year, the nationwide competition has firmly established itself on the culinary calendar.
“We were highly impressed by the diversity of the menus and the chefs’ choice of Oriental ingredients.
“Ray’s dishes demonstrated a clever use of modern cooking techniques combined with traditional Asian flair. Ray demonstrated an excellent work ethic and his final dishes were right on the mark!”
Director Brian Yip, who oversaw the competition, added: “Ray’s food was superior, and his attention to detail was simply remarkable.
“Since 2013, the competition has been championing some amazing young chefs from all over the country, with and without backgrounds in Oriental cuisine, and the latest cook-off was no exception.
“We hope Ray enjoys an unforgettable experience in Hong Kong.”
Ray faced tough competition from 15 other finalists from trade and colleges, including UCB; Westminster Kingsway College; Bradford College, Loughborough College, University of Derby and University of West London.
About Wing Yip
Established in 1970 when founder Woon Wing Yip opened his first grocery in Digbeth, Birmingham, Wing Yip has become the UK’s leading Oriental grocer, worth an estimated £100m. With more than 4,500 pan-Asian products available instore originating from China, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea and Singapore, Wing Yip superstores provide a one-stop shop for pan-Asian cooking.
Wing Yip has stores in Manchester, Birmingham, Cricklewood and Croydon, supplying fresh, ambient and frozen foods seven days a week. There is also an online store (www.wingyipstore.co.uk) where ambient products can be purchased for delivery nationwide.