Replacing the British apple impostor with FutureChef

Who knew that Granny Smith apples were not British? They sound like a quintessential British apple, but they are in fact Australian in origin. More on that to come separately….

This year our specialist food and drink database, Tried and Supplied, has teamed up with hospitality charity, Springboard, to help young chefs learn more about products available in the UK and how to source them. Educational materials will start to feed into next year’s curriculum, but in the meantime Springboard requested to feature locally sourced apples from Tried and Supplied at their FutureChef VIP dinner.

FutureChef 2019 contestants
FutureChef 2019 contestants at the VIP dinner

Initially Springboard requested Granny Smith apples as that is what they are using for the competition, but we were unable to find them anywhere. I consulted with English Apples & Pears and was surprised to find that Granny Smith apples aren’t British, nor do they grow in the UK. We grow so many exotic ingredients these days that I had assumed, Granny Smith apples would be easy to find. Not only can we now grow wine, but wasabi and chilli also seem to thrive in UK soil.


“The UK’s mild climate means our apples ripen slowly and develop an exceptional flavour.”


Sarah Calcutt, Operations Director of English Apples & Pears, kindly explained that far from being a problem, the UK’s mild climate means our apples ripen slowly and develop an exceptional flavour. There are dozens of varieties to choose from all with their own individual qualities and characteristics. The FutureChef Awards VIP dinner provided us with a prime opportunity to highlight the outstanding taste and quality of, in this case, the quintessentially British Cox. Sarah describes their specific characteristics: “Cox apples have a delicious honeyed aroma, a great balance of sugars and a delicious depth of flavour that develops once cooked whilst retaining their shape.” 

British Cox apples on the tree
British Cox apples on the tree

This year, the British Cox apples for the FutureChef Awards VIP dinner at the Hotel Cafe Royal were supplied by Avalon Produce Ltd and their collaborative British growers. The VIP dinner happens the night before the competition and uses the same ingredients as the contestants will use the following day. The idea is to provide the contestants with an example of what a professional would do with those ingredients.

Hotel Cafe Royal's twist on an apple pie for the FutureChef VIP dinner
Hotel Cafe Royal’s twist on an apple pie for the FutureChef VIP dinner

For next year’s competition Springboard has agreed to work more closely with Tried and Supplied on a more seasonal menu based on produce from in and around the UK in an effort to reduce food miles and help young chefs learn to use more sustainable ingredients.

Several of this year’s contestants expressed an interest in local sourcing and one even made a reference to the fact that the Granny Smith apples they used for the competition (we couldn’t change the ingredients for the competitors half way through the competition!) were not truly English.

The skill level of all the contestants was hugely impressive. I feel privileged to be involved in a competition of such talented chefs and am excited to see what next year’s contingent will produce.

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