Full circle, mentee becomes mentor

10 years ago, to the day, Forest Side’s Senior Sous Chef Martin Frickel, and his close friend Chef Matt Campbell representing Kendal College, were jointly crowned Young Seafood Chef of the Year 2008.

The pair then student chefs reigned supreme at the 2008 UK Seafood Championships, held at the Grimsby Institute of Further & Higher Education. Back then the winning team, made up of NVQ level 3 Patisserie student Martin Frickel and NVQ level 2 Culinary Arts student Matt Campbell, beat seven other finalists to take home the prestigious prize.

Much has changed since those heady days, both became highly successful chefs in their own fields; Martin an Acorn winner, working in the highly acclaimed Michelin starred Forest Side, Grasmere and Matt a highly successful Private Chef and MasterChef The Professionals star.

However, this year Matt tragically collapsed and died whilst completing in the 2018 London Marathon, raising money in his father’s memory for a charity he held dear the Brathay Trust.

Matt’s untimely passing prompted the organisers of the Young Seafood Chef of the Year competition to get in touch with Martin to ask if he would consider honouring Matt’s memory with them.

They invited Martin back to create his and Matt’s winning dish from 2008 as part of the mentor’s day prior to the final on Friday (15th June). The mentor’s day held each year is specifically designed to provide the current raft of aspiring chefs coming up through the ranks with some insight and inspiration

Martin readily agreed to honour his friend and travelled to Grimsby with one of their former tutor’s Yannick Lequitte, to recreate the winning dish from 2008, North Atlantic cod, wild boar pancetta, egg and peas with several surprise modern twists.

The dish Martin and Yannick crafted comprised of salted and cured cod loin, gently cooked sous vide, crushed peas dressed with wild garlic oil and kombucha, pickled wild garlic stems, wild boar pancetta crisps, cured egg yolk, wild boar baconnaise, finished with home grown pea shoots and wild garlic flowers and paired with Real Kombucha’s Royal Flush.

Martin Frickel, said: ‘’It seems an aged since Matt and I won Young Seafood Chef of the Year, obviously things have changed quite dramatically in recent months. I’m massively saddened by the fact Matt couldn’t share this moment with me. I’m pretty sure though he would have a huge smile on his face at the situation, a former winning student busy mentoring the next crop of students… It must be said I reckon he would have loved that, inspiring people and making them think about the food they eat was him all over. Though Matt is not here himself, let’s hope his legacy continues well into the future and inspires people to discover interesting flavour combinations and new ways of cooking.’’

Martin and Matt’s tutors fondly recollect their time at Kendal College. Richard Axford, the Assistant Head of the Hospitality and Catering department remembers both clearly, “I can’t believe it’s been ten years, in so many ways Martin and Matt were absolute chalk and cheese, yet both had an underpinning passion for food. Martin was the serious one; driven, focused, and lived for his cooking. Matt was the complete opposite personality, a cheeky chap who loved music, skiing, and socialising. He was flamboyant and adventurous in his cooking and loved to push boundaries.”

“It’s what made them such a fantastic duo”, said Yannick Lequitte, a Chef Lecturer at the College whose passion for competitive cooking was led to Martin and Matt entering and competing in the Young Seafood Chef of the Year competition, “the judges said the dish was elegant and technically accomplished – that was Martin’s influence. It was also highly praised for the original flavour combinations and vibrancy. That was Matt. Together they created a dish that wouldn’t be out of place on any modern menu – and they created it ten years ago. They both always sort excellence, and that’s what made them such incredible chefs.”

Adrian Hodgson of Real Kombucha added: “It’s amazing to see Martin taking these traditional ingredients and binding them together with a great Kombucha, where wine would more commonly be used. That he’s continuing Matt Campbell’s legacy by championing the use of Kombucha is also very close to our hearts as we shared some great times with Matt and we were greatly touched by his passion for what we’re doing. It’s a proud moment for us to see our Royal Flush Kombucha standing there next to this exquisite, forward-thinking dish.”