Ian McDonald is B2B commercial manager at Nespresso UK, sponsor of the National Chef of the Year Award and he shares his thoughts on being part of this year’s event.

Ian McDonald from NCOTY sponsor Nespresso

Ian McDonald from NCOTY sponsor Nespresso

I had the pleasure of seeing eight of the UK’s finest chefs in their element at the Restaurant Show last week, battling it out to take the prestigious National Chef of the Year title.   A huge congratulations is in order for all competitors for getting so far in the competition, and particularly to Larry Jayasekara whose work so impressed the judges.   His award-winning dishes – which were put together in just two hours – included a native lobster starter, loin of venison main and chocolate coffee cream dessert.

Each of the eight competing chefs was given a selection of Nespresso Grands Cru coffee to use alongside other mystery ingredients in their dishes, and Larry used this to great effect in his chocolate coffee cream dish. Coffee may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when planning a new signature recipe, but is being increasingly used as a bold and complex flavour that can bring out the best in a range of meals. The Nespresso Grand Cru range interacts particularly well with food and can be combined throughout the meal to compliment both sweet and savoury dishes. From a coffee glazed short rib of beef, to coffee crème brûlée, chefs have found innovative new ways to put coffee’s distinct flavours and aromas to good use.

As well as its use as an ingredient, coffee is a fantastic accompaniment to food and has been served at restaurants for many years. This has been even more prevalent recently as coffee has surged in popularity, with demand for premium coffee particularly high. Restaurant goers are increasingly looking for quality coffee to accompany or round off their meal, and our dedicated Grand Cru collection features 11 Grands Crus each with distinct aroma and taste portfolios to cater to a range of tastes and pair with a range of foods. For example, milk-based coffee pairs particularly with chocolate desserts, while a more intense espresso can work alongside savoury dishes.

Chefs can access these blends through a diverse choice of professional Nespresso machines which are designed for use either in the kitchen or at the bar. The portfolio expands to four machines, each with their own features to respond to individual business needs. The latest addition to the family the Aguila 220 was launched at The Restaurant Show and is ideal for restaurants who want to serve outstanding quality coffee where bar and kitchen space and recently welcomed its newest addition, , to support restaurants, hotels, pubs and bars where space is at a premium.

This year’s NCOTY was a fantastic event and showed once again how a range of ingredients – including coffee – can be used to create delicious, award-winning dishes.