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Navy Chef selected for the Culinary Olympics

4 May 2016
A Royal Navy Chef based at HMS Raleigh is set to raise the heat in the kitchen competing against some of the world’s best.

Leading Chef Andy Durham is the only Royal Navy representative selected to be part of the Combined Services Culinary Arts Team for the Culinary Olympics in Erfut, Germany in October 2016.

The 30-year-old is currently serving at the Defence Maritime Logistics School passing on his skills to the trainee chefs as an instructor.  He is one of 24 chefs that make-up the Combined Services team and is just one of 10 who have been chosen for Germany.

LChef Durham said:  “It’s very flattering to be selected for the Olympics.  I’m absolutely buzzing to be going to Germany and to be in such a small compact team. Last time the team took part they picked up a number of gold medals, so they have a good history in this competition.

"We’re competing in two different categories.  One of them is the Erfut challenge, which is a buffet for a large number of people, producing dishes from your country of origin, so we will be doing typical British dishes.

"We’re also competing in a display category, where we have to make a huge range of restaurant style plates of food as well as platters containing edible table displays, petit fours and things like that.”

It’s very flattering to be selected for the Olympics. I’m absolutely buzzing to be going to Germany and to be in such a small compact team.

Leading Chef Andy Durham

The team are now in the process of preparing for the competition, selecting menus and putting in hours of practise to perfect each dish.

LChef Durham said: “There is a huge lead up and a lot of work to do before the event. There’s a two week workshop in August and then before the competition we’ll get together and iron out any problems.

"Teams from every nation will take part, such as India, Switzerland, France, Germany and America. There will be Armed Forces teams from each nation, but there will be other civilian teams as well.”

LChef Durham is a seasoned competitor and is also member of the Naval Services Culinary Arts Team. Last year he took part in the annual Tri-service culinary competition, known as Exercise Joint Caterer, competing against chefs from the Army and RAF.  

He said: “I’ve been on the Combined Services Team for a few months now and the last thing I did with them was Hotel Olympia in London, when we won a gold medal best in class for our parade de chefs. That’s basically like a restaurant service for 80 people. We also got a silver medal for our buffet display.”

During eight years in the Royal Navy LChef Durham has served on two of the Royal Navy’s biggest ships, HMS Ocean and HMS Bulwark.  He has cooked for numerous presidents, ambassadors and even royalty including His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and His Royal Highness Prince Harry.

At the Olympics the team will be required to provide food for 100 diners; small fry to someone used to cooking on ships that can take anything between 1,000 and 1,275 people. 

LChef Durham said: “My job in the Fleet is quite similar to the competition because we’re frequently having to do high profile buffets and dinner parties as part of the Navy’s defence diplomacy role.

"I regularly use the skills I’ve learnt from the competitions to do these things and show off what military chefs can produce to the foreign dignitaries. At the moment my day-to-day job is teaching the very basics to new recruits some of whom have never cooked before.

"It’s miles apart from the competition, but nothing can make you a better chef then going back to your roots and learning the basics again. There’s no better way to be honing those skills than by teaching them, so this job is definitely helping me to improve.”

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