Kenilworth chef says winning global cooking contest is highlight of her career

Mary Palecek cooking
Mary Palecek cooking
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A young Kenilworth chef has described winning an international cooking award at a recent competition as the highlight of her career.

Mary Palecek, 25, who is the current sous chef at Woodside in Glasshouse Lane, scooped the junior title at the Global Copper Skillet Competition run by the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) in Los Angeles on Tuesday April 4.

Mary with her trophy

Mary with her trophy

Having already won the UK and European version of the competition, Mary was representing Europe against other winners from the US and Australia Asia Pacific in a timed cook-off.

Each chef was presented with basic pantry items along with a ‘mystery basket’ of proteins and other fresh, dairy and grocery items.

They were given 30 minutes to prepare and produce their dishes, before showcasing them to a panel of judges.

Mary’s dish of pan-fried sirloin steak, sautéed courgette and aubergine, poached sea bass with tomato coriander salsa, heritage carrots and caramelised shallots wowed the judges and earned her first place.

Speaking about her success, Mary said: “It was a fantastic experience to represent Europe in such a prestigious competition.

“I’m honoured to have won the global title, and still in shock. This is a real highlight of my career.”

Mary previously won the UK version of the competition in 2016, when she cooked a surf and turf dish of sautéed beef fillet and king prawns on a bed of spinach and vegetable ribbons with a salsa verde.

The competition is organised by the IACC to try and highlight the skills of chefs based at conference centres all around the world.

Chefs aged under 26 compete in the junior competition, and older chefs compete in the senior competition.