How Eurostar turned to youth to fast-track sustainability on the menu

If most boys’ dream of driving a train hits the buffers, then Matthieu Coiffard may just have found a pretty, chuffing good substitute.

Last Thursday, your correspondent was lucky enough to take a day trip to Paris. But not half as lucky as young Matthieu (pictured with Yann Bayeul, Eurostar Catering Manager). Last summer, the catering school student from Perigueux took his chance and entered Eurostar’s Create a Sustainable Business Premier Dish Challenge. Aspiring chefs from France, Belgium and the UK were asked to create the dish adhering to a strict set of criteria.

Matthieu set about designing a dish that firstly would wow the judges, including Eurostar Culinary Director, Raymond Blanc, as well as showcase local, seasonal ingredients – among other sustainability measures.

The 17-year-old, who only switched to cooking when a knee injury cut short his career in carpentry, looked to the region near Bordeaux for culinary inspiration. His Black Limousin pork medallions with crunchy seasonal vegetables and a balsamic and white wine jus was a worthy winner.

The prize? His dish served throughout the summer on Eurostar’s Business Premier services. The new summer menu was launched last week with Matthieu’s dish taking pride of place. What’s more, he got to visit Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Eurostar’s production kitchen to work with Raymond Blanc to ensure the dish worked perfectly for the train.

Gloucester Old Spot from Yorkshire has replaced the Limousin variety of pork, but it’s served with scrumptious stuffing, mashed potato, courgette and the seasonal superstar of spring, asparagus.

The competition is a winner on so many levels, providing as it does a platform for young chefs, aged 15-19, to express themselves, learn from a Two Michelin Star chef and see their dish eaten by thousands. It also fosters the importance of including sustainability at the heart of any good dish. And with the Food Made Good stars shining bright at the bottom of the menu, the message is communicated loud and clear to passengers. BOOM!

If you know of a young chef who would like the opportunity to see one of their recipes served at speed under the Channel, then encourage them to enter the 2018 competition. Matthieu says: “Cooking has become a passion; this success has inspired me to perfect and persevere in this field.” With the ongoing chef shortage in both France and the UK, Eurostar should be applauded for inspiring the next generation.

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