Award for young chef

Beth Disley-Jones on prestigious pastry win

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A young chef from Merseyside has been touted as one of the UK’s most exciting new culinary talents after winning the prestigious Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Award for Pastry.

Twenty-year-old Beth Disley-Jones, from Wirral, impressed the judges to such an extent she also received the Highest Achievement Award after the competition final in London.

Disley-Jones, a pastry chef at the Art School restaurant on the edge of Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter, prepared a dessert spread with a “christening and naming day” theme, with finalists tasked with preparing a fruit Charlotte russe entremet – a multilayered cake – a celebration plaque, plant-based chocolate truffles, mendiants and choux a la crème over a five-hour period.

Fell in love with pastry

Speaking of the accolade, Disley-Jones said: “I am over the moon. It has been such an amazing opportunity.”

Disley-Jones caught the competition bug early when her high school food tech teacher put her forward for the national FutureChef competition at the age of 14.

Then in year 10, Disley-Jones beat 9,000 other aspiring teen chefs and came first after preparing a fresh pasta dish and a poached pear dessert – a menu developed under the mentorship of Gareth Billington, then head chef at Everton football club.

With her first award under her belt before her 15th birthday, Disley-Jones had solid aspirations for a career in food.

“The FutureChef competition gave me the stepping stone into the industry and also into the competition world,” said Disley-Jones. “I started the competition not really knowing a lot about the industry. And then I ended up winning it and meeting loads of amazing chefs. It was a really good opportunity at such a young age.”

On leaving school Disley-Jones enrolled at the City of Liverpool college, winning a place on its Royal Academy of Culinary Arts chefs’ apprenticeships.

Disley-Jones had never contemplated a career in sweets and desserts, preferring to focus on savoury dishes, but when she started her placement at the Art School there was a vacancy in the pastry section.

“And that’s when I kind of fell in love with pastry,” the young chef told Big Issue North. “I have been working at the Art School for four years now, and for most of that time I have been putting all my attention on pastry.”

Commitment and creativity

Disley-Jones credits Paul Askew, chef and owner of the Art School, with mentoring her through the past four years.

Speaking of his protégé’s success, Askew said: “I’m absolutely delighted for Beth. She’s a super talented and lovely young woman who’s been with us for over four years.

“Her commitment, creativity and maturity are exceptional and the Art School family and I are so proud of her. She is developing into an outstanding young chef that Liverpool and the UK will be hearing more of very soon.”

Disley-Jones dreams of one day opening her own restaurant, but for now she has her sights set on more competitions, throwing herself back into developing her skills after successive lockdowns brought hospitality to a standstill.

She said: “I did have competitions coming up and they got cancelled and it was just quite hard progressing and learning new stuff because, as a chef, you do want to keep learning new things and developing new skills, and it was just put on standby. So it was frustrating but it’s good now to get back into it.”

When it comes to her long-term plans Disley-Jones is open to her career taking her around the world.

“I think I’d definitely love to do a bit of travelling,” she said. “And I’d love to work in a Michelin star restaurant somewhere in the world, maybe do like three months’ work experience. I think that would be really cool.”

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