Former Uckfield man wins highly-regarded chefs’ competition

Former Uckfield chef Michael Wickham has won the finals of the Kikkoman Masters 2016 competition at The Restaurant Show at Olympia, London. His prize is a seven-day trip to Japan.


Former Uckfield chef Michael Wickham winner of the Kikkoman Masters competition held at The Restaurant Show, Olympia.

Michael, aged 31, studied cooking at Uckfield Community Technology College and then went on to study at Eastbourne.

He grew up in New Place, Uckfield, and then moved to Buxted where his parents still live.

He studied to GCSE level at UCTC and then started a full-time job at the East Sussex National Golf Club.

As an apprentice he spent one day a week at what is now Sussex Downs College where he obtained an NCQ Level 2 in food preparation and cooking.

Michael stayed at the golf club for three years then went to work at Newick Park Hotel for a year before moving to Australia to travel and work for two years.

On his return he decided to aim high and moved to London to pursue a better career in fine dining.

Michael said: “My first job was at Pierre Gagnaires, Sketch in Mayfair, where I stayed for two years, obtaining my NVQ Level 3 in professional cooking with a work-based learning scheme.

“I then moved to the Royal Automobile Club where I have been now for two years.”

To get to the finals of the Kikkoman competition Michael had to design and create a menu for a two-course meal for four people to be cooked in 90 minutes using the Kikkoman brand soy sauce as a key ingredient.

He was one of ten finalistschosen from thousands of applicants to go on to cook their dishes at The Restaurant Show, Olympia, in front of a live audience and a panel of judges including Simon Hulstone and Brian Turner.

Michael said before the final: “I am feeling excited about the opportunity to cook in front of a live audience, also a little nervous, but I have been practising my dishes to perfect my timings and flavours and am confident I will do a good job.”

His dishes were:

Starter: Miso-glazed scallop, pak choi, pickles, Asian broth
Main: Venison cooked in spiced fond, sweet potato dumplings, kohlrabi, sesame

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