Thursday 7th October was the date for the Sporting Chefs challenge 2010 and this year it was bigger and better than ever. Sports stars changed their club strips to Coghlans Chefs Jackets as dinner was prepared for nearly 200 guests at Chesterfield’s brand new B2Net stadium, a fine new venue and addition to the town.
First in the blocks was Nottinghamshire CC all rounder Paul Franks, a prolific left handed batsman who seemed equally at home in the fiery kitchen. Paul was followed into the brigade by Chris Waddle, one of England’s finest players with 62 caps to his name and John Sheridan, Republic of Ireland International at 2 world cup finals. As the kitchen brigade swelled at around 5pm, local current CFC squad member Aaron Downes from Australia donned his jacket and Children in need bandanna ready for action.
Mark Crossley and Tommy Wright were next in, with appearances for over 15 clubs between them they brought excellent experience to the brigade and also the banter levels were now rising. Not until seasoned pro and stalwart of Sporting Chefs for the last 3 years John Beresford arrived did the banter really start and the boys starting reacting as if they were in the dressing room, with that distinctive competitive edge coming to the fore. Last in and ready to roll was Peter Swan, ex Leeds United and Hull City amongst many clubs and really up for the challenge.
Head Chef Simon Lilley got players ready for action, lining up the teams in pre arranged pairings and sending them into their sections each headed by one of Coghlans Cookery School Chefs.
Aaron and Tommy were selected to lead the charge on Canapes and given their enthusiasm were promptly allocated dessert as well as a second section. Russ Housley had the unenviable task of monitoring and mentoring them and the volumes rose as they started with their canape preparation. Next team was John Beresford or Bez, leader of the pack or as he likes to call himself Head Sporting Chef, and he and Swanny began on their Duck Confit terrine with plum and apricot Chutney. The slicing had to be precise, there were only 190 portions of terrine which meant 14 from each terrine, 13 from each and 1 table were going home hungry!
Fish course was International standard, Chris Waddle and John Sheridan have over 100 international caps between them. They were tasked with Lobster Prawns, Salmon and a very rich Pesto made with Rocket and garlic.
Main course was allocated to Nottingham. With Franksy having just won the county championship and Mark Crossley having been 13 years at Forest, it seemed a good pairing and they were firing on all cylinders as they prepared nearly 200 Beef Wellington parcels, duxelle of mushroom and shallots, finest Derbyshire fillet of Beef and also a rich red wine sauce. The trick was to get the wine in the sauce rather than the glasses guys! The kitchen rules on no alcohol have to be stretched during Sporting Chefs, the contenders give their time for nothing and it seems churlish not to allow them the odd drink during the evening.
So there was the line up, a veritable feast of stars totally out of their comfort zone, putting their best efforts into producing a spectacular meal.
Head of Cookery School Janet Coghlan was by now keeping a very close eye on proceedings with Simon Lilley watching the detail of every item, ensuring that what goes onto the guests plates is up to the very highest Coghlans standard. Chesterfield FC staff also weighed in with the preparation and kept things moving towards the service deadline of 7.15pm.
Press arrived in their droves, trying to get interviews and pictures of the boys in the brigade. Newspapers and TV crews jostled for position. Not only were events being recorded for BBC Children in Need with executive producer Bryan Sharpe, but the football league show had requested some links and also Chesterfield FC were recording events for their own website. Both Yorkshire and Derbyshire’s main newspapers were covering the event with picture stories so needed both action shots in the kitchen and group photographs looking out over the magnificent stadium.
As guests arrived the glasses clinked to the sound of Champagne Cocktails as the canapes were served and the crush of a big sporting event unfurled.
Sponsors Le Creuset and Denby had their products on show, with all items during the meal served on Denby James Martin, their new prestigious range. Le Creuset, sponsors of Coghlans had displayed an array of cast iron ware which would later be auctioned for the good causes.
Auctioneer James Lewis arrived fresh from filming with BBC, literally an hour before, but unfortunately despite his best efforts to get back to the UK in time for the event, Harry Gration had been delayed by his return flight from Portugal and was unable to join us.
As the courses were served one by one the Sporting Chefs came and described their dishes, the care they had taken, the ingredients and begged for votes from the audience. The shining SPORTING CHEFS 2010 trophy glistened adjacent to the stage and as the stars appealed for the audience votes some even dared to touch the holy grail as they left the stage.
Murmurings of approval grew to crescendos as each course tried to outdo the previous, stories of misgivings of competitors abilities were bandied from the stage, but the guests stuck resolutely to their task and the voting forms swiftly filled with their marks.
The final course had arrived, a rich 3 chocolate mousse with grillotine cherries soaked in Armagnac, a rich ganache and beautiful combination, a modern twist on the classic black forest dessert.
James spoke eloquently about the Born Free foundation, a charity with which Coghlans had recently launched its new joint venture, Tiger J’s Chocolates, from which some of the selling price is directed straight to Born Free.
The auctions and raffle ensued and items were knocked down at the best bid price, James trying to squeeze every penny out for the 3 charities, Children in Need, Born Free and the Cavendish Cancer Care centre in Sheffield.
Finally as the winners were announced in reverse order it appeared there had been a smear campaign against pre-tournament favourites Bez and Swanny, as they were announced in 5th position, lagging some 60 points behind 4th place taken by Chris Waddle and John Sheridan. Margins were much tighter now between the contenders but just losing out were Mark Crossley and Paul Franks, the main course not quite living up to the wow factor that the three chocolate mousse dessert had, a particular favourite with the ladies and scoring over 90% from the critics in the audience.
Tommy and Aaron duly came to the stage to be crowned Sporting Chefs champions of 2010, taking their place in the hall of fame alongside inaugural winners Brian Deane and Simon Tracey and 2009 champions, Gary Speed and Clinton Woods.
Plans are afoot for slight alterations and improvements to the 2011 competition due in September and October of next year. Talk is of 2 semi finals plus a final showdown. Who will take the trophy away from the Chesterfield Boys???
A substantial sum was raised for the charities and thanks go to all the contenders, sponsors and a particular thanks to the board of Chesterfield FC for their support, and their staff for their work in helping the event to be such a huge success.
Tickets for next year go on sale on November 1st 2010 and rumour has it that demand will outstrip supply. Thanks to all those who made it happen contributed, attended or took part and lets hope that the money raised makes a difference!Share and Enjoy:
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