StrEATfood Awards interview
Adam Collison (left), head chef for Sodexo, tells us about his recent win in the Quorn Meat-free Round...
Why did you enter the StrEAT Food Awards?
I entered the awards as I have always enjoyed competing, both at site and national level. I also loved the concept of creating an entire vegan street food dish. I had never entered a street food competition before and I really enjoyed the experience.
What was your winning dish? How did you come up with it?
I created the dish ‘Quedgeree' based on the fact that I always cook too much rice at home and therefore thought this would be a great way to use it up by making a vegan brunch dish with a soft-boiled vegan ‘egg’dam. I find texture and flavours essential when creating a vegan dish and using Quorn was the ideal product as it provides the right taste and texture. The vegan rice-based dish was my take on kedgeree, a popular brunch choice.
Why did you choose to do a vegan dish?
We have seen a massive increase in the popularity of vegan food across our sites, especially over the past two years. We are getting more requests for vegan dishes and people expect more variety and choices when they ask for a vegan menu.
The winning dish is available on our pop-up stand on-site and we’ve received some great feedback about it. More people are moving towards a flexitarian diet and they don’t seem to mind eating a vegan option a few times a week, especially at lunchtime when people are after a dish that is lighter, tasty and a healthier option.
Did you expect to win?
Not really, as this was my first time competing in a street food event and I was up against some past winners and chefs who work for street food companies every day. I especially never expected to win the vegan competition, which was a bit of a shock. However, I did spend quite a lot of time perfecting the vegan egg, which I think might have edged it for me on the day as it really did look like an egg.
Would you recommend that other chefs enter the competition?
I would definitely recommend the competition to other chefs in the industry, it’s a great experience. Having a change from your day-to-day role and testing your creative skills against other chefs in the business was fantastic.
It was also great to see what is on offer in other parts of the business. I have made some great supplier contacts and met some new chef friends just from the day at the StrEATfood Awards.
It’s not just about winning, the experience you get of cooking in front of a crowd and talking about the food you are preparing to the judges while in a competition setting is a great way to build confidence, and this helps you develop in other parts of your daily job. I will be looking out for next year’s StrEATfood Awards and I look forward to supporting younger members of my team to compete as well.