Cookery Apprentice Dylan Showcases Culinary Talent at Combi Guru Challenge Final

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12 June 2023

Dylan Murphy standing next to fellow competitor.

Dylan Murphy (20) from Newtownards, a Level 3 Professional Cookery Apprentice at South Eastern Regional College’s Bangor campus, recently took his culinary talent overseas at the CombiGuru Challenge Final – a prestigious international cooking competition held in Padua, Italy, at UNOX Headquarters. UNOX, who are professionally known for making commercial speed ovens, opened the competition to the U.K. for the first time this year to test the expertise of young chefs.

Apprentice Dylan, who is currently employed at Greedy Gorb Café in Bangor, was successful in progressing from the initial rounds of the CombiGuru challenge to the final. At the start of May, he flew out to Padua with lecturer Brian Magill to compete against nine talented chefs from colleges across the U.K., representing both Northern Ireland and SERC.

Faced with fierce competition, Dylan was tasked with creating a main course and dessert by using UNOX equipment. This included a mystery box of ingredients, in which he had to incorporate capers into the main course, and cinnamon into the dessert. Dylan impressed the judges by making a lamb loin with a lamb sauce and aubergine puree with gnocchi, followed by a cinnamon sponge.

After the competition, the students and lecturers enjoyed an all-expenses paid tourist day in Venice, which included a tour of the city and lunch at a Michelin star restaurant.

Dylan spoke on his experience saying, “The CombiGuru competition was an amazing experience, which allowed me to compete with a mystery box meaning that I had limited time to plan and practice my dish. The mystery items we got on the day were capers for the main course, and cinnamon for the dessert. My tutor Brian Magill came along to support me during the competition, and I’d like to thank him for helping me every step of the way.

“The other competitors were some great chefs who I have continued to stay in contact with, allowing me to see and share dishes and recipes. We also spent a day in Venice, which was a fantastic experience, especially getting to eat in one of the Michelin star restaurants.”

Brian Magill, SERC Hospitality and Catering Lecturer added, “The CombiGuru competition organised by UNOX, gave Dylan and I a great opportunity to meet students and catering lecturers from across the U.K. Dylan did a great job under a lot of stiff competition from the finalists, and the cultural experience was fantastic.

“The UNOX representatives treated us to traditional Italian meals and a Michelin star lunch experience at a beautiful restaurant. The hospitality was second to none, and the whole experience overall was great for everyone involved. I feel blessed to be at SERC and to be given these life changing experiences.”