Kurtus Auty, a former Hospitality and Catering student at Selby College, has been announced as the joint winner of the Koppert Cress ‘Sechuan Button Challenge’.
As part of the challenge, chefs were tasked with creating a dish surrounding the edible flower Sechuan button, which adds a ‘tingle with a champagne-like sensation at the top of the tongue’. Due to the high standard of submitted entries, Kurtus was awarded joint first place alongside Darren Creed, a Curriculum Manager at Loughborough College.
Kurtus carefully crafted his winning dish with the help of Adrian Dawes, the Subject Leader in Hospitality & Catering at Selby College and Kurtus’ former tutor, which included rum Baba, infused poached rhubarb, Sechuan button custard ice cream, Sechuan button tuille and a rhubarb infused Sechuan button cocktail.
“The use of Sechuan button in the dish meant that I had to think outside of the box and create something which was truly unique and special. I love experimenting with different flavours, so I thoroughly enjoyed designing the dish and really appreciated my former tutor Adrian’s support, guidance and ideas in the process,” said Kurtus. “I would like to say a big thank you to Koppert Cress and Skills for Chefs for organising such a fantastic competition and a massive well done to all of the other competitors who took part, especially Darren Creed.”
The brand-new competition has been set up by Koppert Cress, producer of 'innovative' micro-vegetables for international gastronomy, and the Skills for Chefs event organisers. As part of the winning prize, Kurtus’ and Darren’s dishes will appear in Chef and Restaurant Magazine, the number one global publication for professionals in the Hospitality and Catering industry.
After finishing at Selby College in 2016, Kurtus landed his first job at Gordon Ramsay’s Mayfair restaurant Maze as Demi Chef de Partie, before going on to become a chef at restaurants such as Pucci in Mayfair and Mere by Monica Galetti. Kurtus also had a stint on Master Chef: The Professionals in 2019.
“Kurtus has always had strong ties to the College, so I was over the moon when he reached out to see if he could use the College’s facilities to work on his dish for the Sechuan Button Challenge,” said Adrian. “Kurtus is an extremely talented chef and is always keen to challenge himself and expand his skills through national competitions. What he has achieved in his career as a chef so far is tremendous and it’s a pleasure to support him on his journey.”
During his time at Selby College, Kurtus won a string of awards including finalist in Young Seafood Chef of the Year and the titles of Yorkshire’s Best Young Chef at the Golden Apron and York Food & Drink Junior Chef.
Kurtus is continuing to expand his skills as a chef and is currently working on another competition entry alongside his former tutor Adrian.
To see all the entries search #sechuanbuttonchallenge on Instagram.