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16 Apr 2024

Introducing Salon Culinaire's Pub Chef of the Year 2024: Aimie Harley of The George Inn

Introducing Salon Culinaire's Pub Chef of the Year 2024: Aimie Harley of The George Inn

We catch up with Aimie Harley of The George Inn Butcombe, Best in Class and Gold winner of the 2024 International Salon Culinaire competition, to find out more about her winning dish and experience of competing in this year's event. 

How does it feel to have won Pub Chef of the Year at Salon Culinaire?

I’m elated and overjoyed to have won Gold and Best in Class at this prestigious competition. Having never competed in any cooking competition before, I was eager to see how I would stack up against other chefs, and deal with the pressure of cooking in a live theatre. I feel very honoured to be Pub Chef of the Year. If you want to be Best in Class, you’re going to have to be different from everyone else - and that’s what’s going to make you exceptional.

What led you to enter the competition?

My fellow colleagues at The George Inn, and the wider executive food team within Butcombe have always been highly supportive.  As soon as I heard this year’s brief was Pie, I instantaneously felt a connection to the brief and started working on bringing my love of British fish and my pie making skills together in to one award winning dish.

Can you tell us about your winning dish?

I created a sharing fish pie – but not as you know it! Layers of natural smoked haddock, Chalk Stream trout, wild garlic and leeks bound in a lemon salt butter shortcrust. Served along side crispy hassleback potatoes and an assortment of sea herbs, kale and baby leeks. Finished with a white wine, trout roe caviar and chive cream, split with leek oil.

How did you plan it?

I was highly inspired straight away and started working on the pie and the timing restraints of a 45-minute competition. I practiced twice a week for 6 weeks and had timed practices everyday in the week leading up to competition day. “Practice, practice, practice” would be my best piece of advice for next years competitors.


What was the experience of competing live?

It was a fantastic day, a particular personal highlight for me was engaging with the judges and receiving constructive, honest and valuable feedback. I was feeling the pressure before the clock started but as soon as the competition had started, I relaxed and dare I say rather enjoyed the pressure of cooking live in front of hundreds of people and the esteemed judges. I would recommend having a friendly face (or two!) in the crowd – it really helped me calm my nerves and preform to my best ability. Entering this competition has built my self-confidence and would recommend to any chef considering entering in 2025.

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