Call to support hospitality competition finals

Craig Holly Welsh Butcher of the Year

Three Days Hospitality Hub

The event featuring prestigious hospitality competitions for industry and apprentices as well as a Welsh Food & Drink exhibition will be open to trade, apprentices, students and the general public.

Arwyn Watkins OBE, President of the Culinary Association of Wales, believes Skills Competition Wales is a great addition.  “To have Skills Competition Wales finals within the Welsh International Culinary Championships will enhance the overall experience and enable a greater exposure for all of the competitors and sponsors.”

Skills Competition Wales Promoting Skills Based Learning

Skills Competition Wales raises awareness of vocational education and training, and career pathways across a range of priority sectors that will impact positively on businesses in Wales.  The Hospitality finals, organized by Cambrian Training Company on behalf of Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales, features three competitions Culinary Arts; Patisserie & Confectionery and Restaurant Skills. They will take place at ICC Wales, Newport; as well as Inclusive Restaurant Skills that will be held on 29th January in Coleg Elidyr.

All four competitions are designed to test the apprentices’ skills that they’ve developed in their studies at college or in the workplace. To succeed, the apprentices have to deliver their best skills whilst performing under pressure and against the clock.  The winners of each competition will earn the right to go on and compete in the UK World Skills finals held later in the year.

Faith O’Brien, Managing Director of Cambrian Training Company, said: “For the first-time culinary and hospitality apprentices will be performing alongside their industry peers in a three days Hospitality Hub.  This event will be an exciting opportunity for our apprentices to shine and give them the exposure to succeed in their careers.”

The Culinary Association of Wales’ Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC)

The WICC attracts the country’s top professionals to compete for the prestigious titles: National Chef of Wales, Junior Chef of Wales and Welsh Butcher of the Year.  This year the National Chef of Wales 2024 and Junior Chef of Wales 2024 winners will earn the right to attend Worldchefs Congress & Expo 2026. That, alongside the Global Chef Finals 2026, will be hosted for the first time in Wales in May 2026 at the ICC Wales, Newport.

Craig Holly, a Training Officer at Cambrian Training, is a previous winner of the Welsh Butcher of the Year competition. He said this of the experience: “I was proud to compete and win Welsh Butcher of the Year 2018.  It was a real honour to go on and represent Wales in my craft on the world stage in California.  My achievements definitely helped me stand out amongst my peers and gave me a big step up in my career path.  That is why I’m going to be working with the next Team Wales Craft Butchers who will be competing in the World Butchers’ Challenge in 2025 in Paris.

Competitions are important because they generate innovation and allow butchers to demonstrate the more creative side of the trade whilst keeping the traditional craft alive. I recommend anyone who is interested to get involved.”

This year the Culinary Association of Wales are also launching their first ever Green Chef competition to promote the wide range of vegetarian meal choices available. It will also be an opportunity for the Association to view the Welsh talent as they search for a Welsh chef to compete in the Vegan Chef Final as part of the Global Chef Finals 2026.  There’s also the Riso Gallo Risotto Challenge up for grabs, with the winner of the challenge going on to compete in the UK and Ireland Young Risotto Chef of the Year contest.

As well as these prestigious competitions there will also be a number of individual skills competitions including Knife Skills – Fruit Cuts & Veg Cuts; Caesar Salad Challenge; Modern Cold Desserts; Cocktail Mixology; Butchery Skills; Omelettes; Welsh Beef Main Course; Welsh Lamb Main Course; Game Class and Prepare & Cook Chicken for Sauté that professionals and apprentices alike will have the opportunity to take part in.

Arwyn says Watkins: “Bringing all of these competitions together to a brand-new high-profile venue at ICC Wales in Newport is a significant milestone in the Culinary Association of Wales’ 30-year history.  We will be creating a three-day Hospitality Hub open to the trade and the public giving our business partners the opportunity to showcase their products, search for future talent and build our business relationships as we continue on the journey to host the Worldchefs Congress and Expo 2026.”

The three days  will culminate with an Industry Awards Dinner on Wednesday 24th January where all of the winners will be announced.  Tables of ten will cost £1,000 with all proceeds going to the Culinary Association of Wales to support the delivery of the training and development of our National, Junior and Craft Butcher teams to compete and represent Wales on the world stage. If you would like to show your support and join us at this celebration of skills and outstanding Welsh Food and Drink then please contact: