Wellingborough chef meets two culinary legends after winning prestigious food award

Tamsin with Michel Roux Jr
Tamsin with Michel Roux Jr

One of Wellingborough’s finest rising culinary talents has told of her delight after joining two of the country’s finest chefs in their London kitchens.

Tamsin Hamilton-Testrote, 23, who is currently studying for a degree in hospitality business management with culinary arts at Sheffield Hallam University, enjoyed a two-day trip to visit both Michel Roux Jnr at Le Gavroche and Jacob Kenedy at Bocca di Lupo in Soho.

She was given the chance after being named Booker Young Chef of the Year in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2015/16.

She said: “Meeting Jacob Kenedy and Michel Roux Jnr was a real education for a small-town chef like me.

“It was absolutely phenomenal to spend time chatting with two masters and to be allowed behind the scenes of such critically acclaimed restaurants.

“I left feeling both star-struck and really inspired.”

Tamsin, who impressed the judges with her combinations of big, bold flavours and textures in her two-course menu of breaded calves’ liver with a brown onion stew, made using local Saxby’s cider, followed by a pannacotta flavoured with local Warner Edwards sloe gin, beat off competition from four other finalists at the Ready Steady Cook style cook-off last summer to win the title.

Her reward was to enjoy lunch with Jacob and hear first-hand his experience of opening and managing the restaurant, before spending the evening service with his team of chefs.

The following day she was whisked off to Le Gavroche to enjoy a tour of the kitchens, conducted by Mr Roux Jnr himself.

As reigning champion, Tamsin is not allowed to enter the awards this year, but is encouraging others to do so.

She said: “I really enjoyed the thrill of taking part in the competition and not only was winning the award so unexpected but it also meant a lot to me to be recognised within my community and have my success covered by the local media.

“To have people see me as a success in my field of work is amazing and certainly something I can add to my CV which will hopefully set me out from the crowd among future employers, so I’d urge other young chefs to go for it because you just never know when it’ll be your time to shine.

“Most importantly, I’ve never felt so proud of myself.

“I’ve gained so much confidence and now feel even more inspired to fulfil my goal to own my restaurant one day.”

With the eighth year of the competition now under way, awards director Rachel Mallows is encouraging others to aim for a similar prize.

She said: “We’re thrilled that Tamsin had such a rewarding trip to London and are most grateful to Booker Wholesale for providing such a wonderful experience for her to go behind the scenes of two of the city’s finest restaurants and I’m sure it will act as a massive boost to what promises to be a fantastic culinary career ahead of her.

“We’re also delighted that Booker Wholesale is yet again generously offering the chance for our 2016 winner to enjoy a similar experience, watching and learning from one of the country’s leading gastronomes.

“In addition, the winner of our Chef of the Year title will be heading off to spend the day in the kitchens of The Ritz alongside executive chef John Williams so, like Tamsin, we’d urge all budding Tom Kerridges and Angela Hartnetts to enter for the chance of enjoying these rare culinary opportunities.

For more details on free entry into the Booker Young Chef of the Year (for chefs aged 18-25), Chef of the Year (25 and over) or any of the categories in this year’s awards, including Healthy Eating Workplace of the Year, Restaurant of the Year and Independent Café/Tea Room of the Year, call the awards team on 01933 664437 or visit the website by clicking here.