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In conversation with Sgt Liam Dummelow, Team Captain CSCAT

22nd November 2022

Essential Cuisine are so proud to have supported the amazing work of the Combined Services Culinary Arts Team for several years. The team is made up of chefs, selected equally from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army and Royal Air Force to represent the British Armed Forces and the United Kingdom.

As the team get ready to deploy out to Luxembourg for the 2022 Culinary World Cup, held between the 26th – 30th November we caught up with Sgt Liam Dummelow, Team Captain of the Combined Services Arts Team to chat about the teams history and there preparations for the World Cup.

Can you give us a little history of the CSCAT team?

The team was formed over 25 years ago to showcase military catering at national and international competitions. CSCAT is formed from high calibre chefs from the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force, who all have competition experience or have a restaurant background and natural flair. Regardless of the chefs background we all have extreme passion for fine food and our trade in common.
How long have you been in the CSCAT team?

I was selected on to the team in 2013, I have been lucky enough to be the captain for the last 2 years.
The CSCAT team have some great success over the years, what makes the team so successful?

Our success comes from several reasons but it's our passion for cooking that sits at the top. It’s a subject that is never out of our heads and we are constantly thinking of new dishes and ideas. As a team we all gel very well and it's never a chore to be in each other’s company, when there is such a great working environment, the want to succeed and the desire to represent the British Military infront of 50 other nations then often good results are presented to you. We work very hard to get there but we wouldn’t have it any other way.  
How has the pandemic affected preparations for the 2022 World cup?

Like most, we have felt the implications of the pandemic. Our preparations for the Culinary World Cup started 2 years ago right when lockdown was ongoing. This stopped us meeting at our development kitchen, so we were very delayed in putting ideas of new dishes from paper to porcelain. When we did finally get together only a few chefs could attend due to travel restrictions from around the UK and Europe. Like others, we used online meetings for menu planning and progress reports. We haven’t let this faze us and the team are working more streamlined than we ever have.
Which categories are CSCAT taking part in?

We are competing in the Community Catering Challenge which sees us produce a 3-course lunch for 120 people to the judges spec which includes a theme and a expenditure limit. We also present a cold table display of high artistry concept plates of food. All food is meticulously designed and prepared then glazed in aspic and displayed under lights to showcase the teams talent.  
How do you come up with the dishes as a team?

We have menu development workshops throughout the year where ideas come to life and are then improved. Many of the team do stages at the UKs top restaurants to keep up with modern trends in the industry.  
The dedicated CSCAT training kitchen based in Tidworth, how has that been beneficial to your preparations?

Having our own space to develop as a team has been everything. Most of the team are lucky enough to live or work close which is beneficial to them. Having our own kitchen accelerates the pride and passion to do well.  
We all see the chefs producing the food, but can you tell us about your colleagues who are in the background supporting the entire operation?

We have a dedicated logistics team and manager who support us fully making all our needs come to fruition, from placing ration orders to booking road moves, flights and accommodation. We also have a chairperson, treasurer and president. Quite frankly we could have all the best chefs at our disposal but without the background team there would be no medals and no success.   
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, what is up next for you and the CSCAT team?

2023 will be a quick turn around to get ready for the Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart Germany. A few others and I will be judging at the Salon Culinaire in London.
What advice would you give to young chefs entering the hospitality industry?   

So I would say to any young chef is to find a head chef you get on well with. Put your head down and learn every section in that kitchen. Establishing the basics of our craft is so important for confidence and development in our work. There is no need as a young chefs to job hop every 12 months, learn the foundations in a good kitchen under a decent chef and you’ll go far.
Would you recommend competition cookery to the next generation of chefs?
Of course I would, competing at small competitions then on to larger ones will give you so much experience. It’s a great way to showcase your talents and most importantly, the feedback you will receive from the judges is the real gold. It’s the feedback that will help you grow as a chef.
Liam, many thanks for your time and from us all at Essential Cuisine we wish you and your team the very best of luck out in Luxembourg and look forward to following the teams journey.

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