Chef at landmark Sidmouth hotel wins national award

Victoria Hotel's head chef, Stuart White, wins the Seaside Chef of the Year award. Ref shs 4442-47-1

Victoria Hotel's head chef, Stuart White, wins the Seaside Chef of the Year award. Ref shs 4442-47-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

Stuart is named the country’s top seaside chef

Victoria Hotel's head chef, Stuart White, wins the Seaside Chef of the Year award. Ref shs 4434-47-1

Victoria Hotel's head chef, Stuart White, wins the Seaside Chef of the Year award. Ref shs 4434-47-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth chef is celebrating a culinary coup after landing a national title.

Stuart White, of the Victoria Hotel, battled it out in a close-fought cook-off on Sunday to be named the Seaside Chef of the Year - a contest aiming to change the perception of food in coastal resorts.

The hotel’s head chef wowed judges with his innovative, locally sourced dishes that ‘gave him the edge’ over fellow finalist Anthony Greenland, of the Best Western Vine Hotel, Skegness.

Stuart grew up within 10 miles of the Victoria Hotel, where his aunt worked years ago, and while he is modest about his achievement, he admitted it is great for the business as well as the town.


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He said: “It was quite a painful wait for the results because we started at 2pm and the judging was at 5pm. Then we did not get the results until 10pm – it was a long old day.

“All the dishes that I cooked feature on the White Room menu at the hotel. With the scallops, for instance, we serve so many a week so I knew the dish inside and out. I know it works as a dish.

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“It’s great to get the award and great for the hotel that we have a bit of recognition.”

He added it was quite an eye-opener to see the high standard of food served at the Victoria when he first started. Now, six years later, he is the award-winning head chef.

It is also another great coup for the Victoria, which has been awarded four silver stars, while the Brend Group recently won the AA Hotel Group of the Year title.

Contestants were asked to cook a three-course meal for the inaugural competition started by Food Award 2014 winner Aspect Bar and Bistro in a bid to change the image of dining in Britain’s seaside resorts.

Judges said Stuart’s starter of diver caught scallops, served with caramelised cauliflower puree, homemade black pudding and chicken jus, followed by a dessert of chocolate and honeycomb torte with Otter Brewery’s Otter Head Ale ice cream ‘made a big impact’.

The judging panel was made up of Paul Bury and Iain Walach from Aspect, alongside the ‘Boho Chef’, Stefano Corvucci - the founder and owner of the Culinary Institute of Bologna (CIBO).

Organiser and judge Paul Bury said: “Both finalists produced exceptionally good food and choosing a winner was a tough decision, but in the end Stuart just edged it.”

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