Meet the National Chef of the Year semi-finalists: Virginia Ramiro Mendez

We’re feeling all inspired after hearing the background to the career of Virginia Ramiro Mendez. Only a few days to go until the next round of National Chef of the Year and we’re already looking forward to putting these dishes through the taste-test.

Tell us how you first heard about the competition and what attracted you to enter?

I heard about it from a colleague who was involved in the competition a few years ago. However, my actual chef was the one that pushed me to give it a try this year.

Where were you when you first discovered you had made it into the National Chef of the Year semi-finals? 

Actually, I was right in the middle of the service. I was plating the food and my head chef was reading the shortlist of the competition and told me I was in. It’s fair to say I literally jumped for joy.

How did you celebrate your achievement?

I went for a few drinks with my chef colleagues and I had the opportunity to celebrate it with my parents in Spain last week. It was really emotional.

How are you preparing for the next stage of the competition?

Just three words - practice, practice, practice.

Who has been your biggest inspiration in your career so far?

Ferran Adriá, who is a very creative Spanish chef that has inspired me and thousands of other chefs.

Which part of the menu are you most looking forward to serving up and what was your inspiration for this dish?

My starter which is a wild garlic and asparagus pannacotta. When I first moved to the UK, a few years ago, I found out about wild garlic and it was love at first sight. That's way I decided to use it for my menu.

How will you feel if your name is called out as a finalist?

Simply amazed.

Tell us something that followers of the competition may not already know about you.

I'm from Galicia, a small region in the north west of Spain. The main product of our dishes is the local seafood. My first memories of cooking are related to the products of my region, especially fish, seafood and octopus. Those products are still my main inspiration for cooking and working as a chef. 

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