Cameron House on Loch Lomond’s Head Pastry Chef, Szilard Szentesi has been awarded 2023 winner of the prestigious Valrhona Cercle V challenge for the UK. Competing against the world’s finest pastry chefs and chocolatiers, Szilard’s seasonal creation ‘Autumn Harmony’ scooped the accolade and is inspired by the transition from autumn to winter. The delicious dessert was unrivalled in its imaginative use of rich, intense chocolates, accompanied by an exquisite whisky ice cream, caramel sauce, flavours of smoke and spice and paired with a chocolate ganache, all paying homage to Scotland.
Originally from Hungary, Szilard learned the art of baking from his grandmother and mother at a young age. Working his way up from bakery assistant, Szilard moved to Scotland more than a decade ago where he took a position as Chef De Partie at the globally-renowned St Andrew’s Links. Here, he fostered his love for the pastry discipline before going on to work for four years at The Gleneagles Hotel as Senior Chef De Partie.
There, Szilard worked under celebrated pastry chef Phillip Skinazi to whom he attributes much of his success and development, and names one of his biggest inspirations. Slizard began studying outside of work during this time, training to the highest level at Scotland’s Dundee and Angus Catering College and deepening his passion and appreciation for the skill and artistry required within the pastry world.
Always striving for new challenges and with five-star hotel cuisine set firmly in his sights, Szilard joined Cameron House in 2021, beginning a new chapter for desserts and confectionery at the resort. Appointed as Head Pastry Chef in March 2022, one of Szilard’s core focuses is centralising the dessert, pastry and sweet goods offering and incorporating it into all aspects of guests’ experience – from show stopping creations in guest rooms upon arrival, to the freshest of breakfast pastries.
Believing that all elements should be made in-house, Szilard particularly enjoys training and inspiring young chefs, demonstrating that everything can be made from scratch and nothing in the kitchen should ever go to waste; whether that’s creating candied peel or flavoursome jams from what might otherwise be discarded food. He comments:
‘The skills, dedication and drive of the team at Cameron House is outstanding: they are always so open to new ideas and constantly striving to achieve new goals. My role is to encourage, educate and develop younger generations and showcase the opportunities that working in this area of the kitchen brings. The proximity to nature and position next to the loch at Cameron House provides endless creative inspiration to my work.”
Cameron House is thrilled to announce that since Szilard’s appointment there has been a significant increase in the number of apprentices within the pastry team and across other dedicated kitchen areas. The resort’s bespoke Chef Apprenticeship Programme is an incredible chance for young people to join the highly skilled brigade de cuisine and receive dynamic hands-on training and qualifications of the highest standards in hospitality, opening several doors for a successful career in the culinary world.
Jessica McKechnie, one of Szilard’s mentees, has also enjoyed great success as she won ‘Dessert Chef of The Year’ at the recent Master Chefs of Great Britain Awards, resulting in a huge double win for the Pastry team at Cameron House. Jessica impressed judges with two mouth-watering creations: a chocolate, hazelnut and pear tart complete with a spiced pear caramel and praline mousse, followed by a blackberry and coconut panna cotta with a delicate coconut tuille.
Graduating from catering college in 2022, Jessica met Szilard in London at a competition where he instantly recognised her talent and invited her on a work experience placement. The two chefs have worked closely together ever since, going on to win several accolades for Cameron House, embarking on their journeys through flavours with food excellence for guests as their top priority.