Lexington Casual Dining Contest – Winner Announced!

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At the Lexington Casual Dining Contest Finals, the team that created Rama Social, a new concept in Japanese cuisine with Latin influences, was crowned the 2022 winners. The winning team will have their concept presented to the entire of the company and will also enjoy a dinner in a great London restaurant and a masterclass with Dhruv Baker, winner of MasterChef 2010 and one of the judges of the competition.

The winning concept was based on Nikkei cuisine, ie fusion cuisine, and the winning team experimented with different cooking techniques – from Japanese cuisine to Hibachi grilling on flavored wood, including marinade and preservation of South American ingredients. The team developed the Nikkei cooking style by introducing flavors from Brazil and Mexico and applying them not only to savory dishes but also to cocktails and desserts.

The competition is a team event and open to all Lexington Business & Industry locations. Each participating team is briefed to create a new casual dining/street food concept that could be implemented on their own site or across the business.

A total of 27 teams participated – and submitted written entries – and 10 teams were chosen to present their concepts to the judges. Six finalists were chosen to attend the final at OKN1, a collaborative kitchen and dining space at New City College, Hackney, and home of Lexington’s Chef School. More than 150 customers and guests attended and tasted the food concepts developed by the six finalists and voted for their favorite brand, which accounted for 50% of the final score.

A prestigious panel of industry experts – including MasterChef winner Dhruv Baker, former founder of Temper Restaurants and founder of plant-based foods company Symplicity, Neil Rankin, Stevie Reece of Mr Pig Stuff and Michal Seal, Marketing Director of Elior – chose the winning concept.

Matt Wood, General Manager of Lexington, said; “This competition highlights the passion and creativity that exists throughout our company. Not only was it impressive that 27 teams participated in the competition, but it was extremely exciting to witness such a level of innovation and talent. It was exciting to discover such a delicious range of food options and to know that the Lexington teams had created such incredible concepts.

Dhruv Baker, MasterChef winner and founder of Tempus Foods, said: “What an honor to be asked to judge a truly spectacular event. The Lexington Casual Dining Competition was a showcase of the breadth and depth of Lexington Catering’s immense talent. Stunning food, beautifully crafted and perfected. I was blown away by the sheer brilliance of it all. Such passionate people showing immense talent – it was a treat to witness.

Neil Rankin, chef and restaurateur, said, “Everyone was brilliant, but the worthy winners served me one of the best tacos I’ve had and I ate a few!

Each entry should include the following:

  • Food cost of £3 per person
  • Marketing plan including promotional material, banners, menus and uniforms
  • Mobilization plan
  • Description of equipment from food stalls to display materials
  • Recipes for all menu items
  • Supporting photos, materials and ideas.

The other five finalists created various concepts ranging from modern British small plates and vegan junk food to Hawaiian poke bowls, Lebanese street food and Hungarian desserts with a British twist.

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