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Taste of Staffordshire - Richard Cullen

12 January 2009

Winner of England’s Taste of Staffordshire culinary competition, Chef Richard Cullen enjoyed a Steelite International sponsored trip November 12-17 to Stonewall Resort, in Roanoke, West Virginia. Cullen trained alongside Stonewall Executive Chef Dale Hawkins throughout his visit, while taking part in the resort’s Wild Foods Weekend.

The event was designed to both educate and celebrate the art of preparing the abundant foods found in WV forests. Cullen aided in the preparation of a diverse menu including dishes such as cider brined White Oak farm quail with warm three bean medley and hot pepper jelly, as well as wild boar tenderloin with blackberry sauce. Cullen also took part in wild food culinary demonstrations prior to the meal.

Of his experience, Cullen commented on the surprising atmosphere of Hawkins’ kitchen. He expressed his expectations of an American kitchen as being less welcoming than he experienced at Stonewall. He admired that Hawkins led by example and with encouragement. His expectations were understood, though he was not domineering. Hawkins’ positive leadership fosters a positive staff – resulting in a well prepared, well executed menu.

Cullen also took interest in the abundance of meat available on the American menu. He had the opportunity to speak with a park ranger about hunting practices in the area, and expressed the stark difference between American and British meat availability and consumption. In addition, Cullen was surprised to find such a large and varying breakfast menu available for in-room dining. Such a large emphasis on breakfast is uncommon in England.

Cullen also conveyed that England’s current green movement had placed a large focus on cooking with local meats and produce. He was pleased to see that Stonewall resort has mastered this initiative; taking advantage of local produce and in turn, boosting the area market.

With training from England’s St. Joseph’s College and Stafford College, Chef Richard Cullen currently holds the position of second chef at Spotgate Inn, Staffordshire. He is current Taste Of Staffordshire champion. Cullen has held placements in numerous London establishments including Restaurant Gilmore, Hibiscus Restaurant and Dorcestor Hotel London. In addition, he had the opportunity to train alongside renowned Chef Gordon Ramsey at his restaurant in Claridges London. Cullen is a Steelite sponsored chef, and uses Steelite product when competing.

A graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Chef Dale Hawkins draws inspiration from his own West Virginia family tradition and fresh seasonal foods while developing the menu at renowned Stonewall Resort restaurant, Stillwaters. Hawkins’ strives to incorporate the freshest, high quality ingredients into each plate, while taking advantage of specialty foods from across the globe.