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Award-winning young chef Zach helps develop fabulous festive showstoppers

Zach Abbott, who's 18, won the Golden Apron award to find Yorkshire’s best young chef – and has helped create some fabulous showstoppers for our Extra Special Christmas food range. Here he blogs about the thrill of seeing some of his dishes on Asda customers' festive dinner tables.

By Zach Abbott

November 22, 2017 00:42pm
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I was speechless when I won the Golden Apron Award after three years competing for it. The first year I reached the semis and last year I was runner-up in the final.

The award meant I got the fantastic opportunity to work alongside Mark Richmond, Asda's innovation chef, and James Mackenzie, chef and owner of the Michelin-starred Pipe and Glass Inn in the Yorkshire Wolds, to help develop some showstopping centrepieces for Asda's Christmas food range.

Zach golden apron
Zach with some lof his creations

We wanted dishes people would be wowed by and intrigued by – and we focused on good quality ingredients which were in season.

For me it was all about understanding what customers would buy and enjoy – and the experience has been a real confidence boost.

It's an absolute thrill to think about my dishes being on someone's table at Christmas time!

The dishes I worked on include the Extra Special Triple Lamb Crown – which won the Christmas Meat award at the Quality Food Awards – and the 28 Day Matured Beef Rump Joint with a portobello, porcini & truffle duxelle.

Lamb crown
Lamb crown

Normally my gran cooks at Christmas – but this year we'll probably have one of my dishes!

I’ve been into cooking since I was seven or eight. I started pot washing when I was in my early teens in a local bistro. I completed a two-year professional cookery diploma at York College and I'm now a senior chef de partie at Middlethorpe Hall in York.

Beef joint
Beef joint

My mum found the Golden Apron competition online three years ago. It's for 14–19 year olds and you can enter if you cook professionally or just for fun.

In the final you cook for 70 people at a gala dinner at the Pipe and Glass. The theme was 'My Yorkshire' so we had to create a dish using locally sourced ingredients. My dish was Yorkshire venison with fondant potatoes, carrot, parsnip, rhubarb and ginger with a port and cranberry sauce.

There was a two-minute wait to find out who had won – and it was the longest two minutes of my life. It was a massive relief to win.

Mark Richmond and Zach
Mark Richmond and Zach

Now I'm older I'm starting to understand flavours more and working at Middlethorpe Hall has helped. I've also worked at a busy restaurant in York learning different ideas from different chefs.

My parents are in the police force. I used to help them out in the kitchen and I helped my grandparents too – going to orchards with my gran and going back to bake.

My dream is to have my own restaurant – maybe in York – to showcase my food and my feelings about food.

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