StrEATFood Awards interview

We catch up with Lewis Woodcock of Amadeus, whose Vietnamese classic made the final in 2022.

What’s your everyday role?
I am a deputy head chef of conference and banqueting at the NEC. Day to day, my role is very varied, consisting of delivering high-quality catering menus to everything from small VVIP boardroom buffets, up to plated dinners and street food events for around 500 guests, often over venue multiple locations.

I am also often involved with food tastings for prospective new clients, and I can also be called upon to stand in for other chefs in other arms of the business.

How did you come to enter?
Having been presented with the opportunity by my executive head chef and given the brief for the StrEATfood Awards 2022, I felt it was an exciting challenge. I have taken part in competitions before, so had a good idea of what they entail and how beneficial they can be. They are good for networking and it’s good to see what kind of food other people and companies are delivering. I was excited to get stuck in and further expand my networks through this competition.

What was your signature dish and how did you come up with it?
My signature dish was a Vietnamese banh mi with seared pork belly in a toasted French baguette, with a pork crunch butter and do cha. I decided on this dish as I’ve been to quite a lot of street food markets at various locations across the globe and eaten and enjoyed different versions of it. I felt this dish would fit the brief well and be practical to deliver in the pop-up kitchen provided by the competition.

And your other two dishes?
My second dish was vegan wings with a guava, mint and habanero hot sauce. When given the choice of the three vegan proteins I knew I wanted to use the wings, and the combination of other ingredients was decided upon due to where they originate from. Habanero and guava are typically South American, and the mint working brilliantly to bring the dish altogether.

My third dish was a buldak chicken with a coriander coral. This choice was really dictated by the ingredients that were being supplied by the sponsors of the competition and my desire to do something different and outside of my skillset. After my research, I found this dish worked well, was delicious and gave me the opportunity to showcase a bit of technique.

How do you stay calm when competing?
I always do my best to focus on the job in hand, not pay any attention to anyone else and not worry about the spectators. With it being such a short time to present three dishes, I found it easier to stay focused.

Did you enjoy the event? Would you recommend others enter?
I really enjoyed the event and competition. It was a great opportunity to challenge myself and learn new things and skills along the way.

You may also be interested in…