A young pastry chef from Rhondda Cynon Taf has beaten off stiff competition at World Skills UK finals to be ranked in the top three patisserie and confectionery students in the UK.
Alys Evans, 19 from Gilfach Goch, who currently works as a pastry chef at the Vale Resort, impressed the judges so much with her pastry and dessert abilities during The Skills Show 2017, organised by World Skills UK, that she won a place in the UK culinary team, along with just two other English students.
Now the three, which includes Ellie Tuttle (19) and Connor Stow (18), will go head-to-head in a series of competitions to decide who will represent the UK at the “culinary Olympics” in Russia in two years’ time.
Ms Evans had to excel during three gruelling days of competitions at The Skills Show, held in the NEC in Birmingham, to demonstrate her abilities to the judges. On the first day, she had six hours to make a chocolate centre-piece on the theme of nature. On day two, she had 5.5 hours to make a traditional cake, two tea fancies and a sugar piece. On day three, she had just 3.5 hours to make a hot and cold dessert from a basket of mystery ingredients. Ms Evans made a honey sponge with caramelised banana and a chocolate tonca bean mousse as the cold dessert, and a deconstructed berry crumble with rosemary anglaise as the hot dessert.
World Skills is an international movement that promotes the benefit and need for skilled professionals, showing how important skills, education and training is for youth, industries and society. It challenges young professionals around the world to become the best in the skill of their choice.
Ms Evans was over-whelmed when she found out she had been selected to be considered for World Skills Kazan 2019. She said: “I just couldn’t believe it when I was told that I had been successful. To be one of only three from across the whole of the UK to go through to the next stage, when the challenges were so hard and the standard was amazing, is incredible. While there are many skills that will be showcased at World Skills, for us it really is the culinary Olympics!”
On leaving Tonyrefail Comprehensive School after completing her GCSEs, Ms Evans went to Coleg y Cymoedd to do a Level 2 VRQ in Professional Cookery and a Level 3 NVQ in Patisserie. She joined the Vale Resort as a full-time pastry chef two months ago.
Alys Evans has months of competitions ahead of her to train up for the selection process for World Skills Kazan 2019, including Battle for the Dragon in February next year, run by the Culinary Association of Wales, as well as the Culinary World Cup in Luxemburg in November 2018.
When she is not working at the Vale Resort, much of her spare time will be spent practicing at Coleg y Cymoedd, where she also hopes to mentor younger chefs as they prepare for the next Skills Competition Wales.
Alys Evans continued: “There’s nothing like the heat of a real-life kitchen to put you through your paces and make you up your game. At the Vale Resort, we can have anything up to 130 desserts to make if the restaurant is especially busy – and each one has to be of the highest quality.
“I start prepping in the morning and continue throughout the day, breaking off to sort luxury cake-filled tiers for afternoon tea. I’ve got a sweet tooth, but luckily I’m too busy to indulge it!
“My dream is to work in a high-end Michelin star restaurant one day, and the work that I do here at the Vale Resort is great practice for this.”
John Quill, executive sous chef at the Vale Resort, said: “Alys is a fantastic member of the team, and we’re delighted to have her on board. She’s already working with chef to plan the menus and, even though she’s still fairly young, she has a mature head on her shoulders and nothing phases her. This is just the attitude you need when working under pressure in the kitchen.
“We’re not surprised that she has excelled at World Skills UK and has ended up being among the top three patisserie and confectionery students in the UK. We are fully behind her and supporting her every step of the way as she trains to be selected to represent the UK at World Skills in Russia in 2019.”