Dilene Boyd has won the Unilever Foodsolutions By Invitation Only competition

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This year's Unilever Foodsolutions By Invitation Only culinary competition that took place at Hostex Cape attracted a big crowd. Six of the country's top chefs competed, and Dilene Boyd, an independent pastry chef from Johannesburg took first place and the R40 000 cash prize.

Unilever Foodsolutions' Craig Elliott says of this year's event: "I never thought that standard could get so high. Every single chef has really put out their best today."

On the big crowd turnout he says: "People love this competition - people are passionate about food and cooking. This event builds the brand on so many levels. People love to see chefs in action."

Dilene Boyd (nee Cranna) is the Unilever Foodsolutions Chef of the Year 2009 competition winner and is a keen competitions chef. She has worked in the industry for 12 years, in some 10 top establishments locally and in the UK.

Dilene Boyd has also been a member of the South African National Culinary Team since 2005, which won a gold medal in the Restaurant of Nations category of the IKA Culinary Olympics in 2008, along with two silvers and a bronze medal. She has committed to another four-year training period for the IKA Culinary Olympics in 2012.

She has also won a slew of awards in various Salons Culinaire and other competitions.

Last year, Boyd went out on her own to bake wedding cakes and train young pastry chefs in the industry.

Boyd in brief:

Where did you train? I did not have any formal chefs training, but I worked at the Table Bay Hotel and the Mount Nelson, gaining lots of experience.

What is your career history? Table Bay Hotel - DCP Pastry, Mount Nelson Hotel - assistant pastry chef, Hilton Group in UK (experiential work in Ramsay and Marco Pierre White kitchens, Savoy London and Dorchester) - Pastry chef, Mount Grace Hotel - Pastry Chef, Sheraton Hotel - Pastry chef

What inspires you? My two beagle boys.

What is your best ever culinary creation? It has to be the dessert that won gold for Team SA at the 2008 Culinary Olympics in Erfurt.

What was your funniest moment in the kitchen? Slipping on a wet floor with four trays of petit fours in my hands.

Who would you list as your mentor? I only have one - Wade van der Merwe.

What is a typical day in your kitchen? I don't work in a kitchen full time anymore.

How do you keep up to date with trends? International competitions, books, chef friends, contacts abroad and the internet.

What trend inspires you at the moment? Simplicity.

What are your current favourite ingredients? Ginger, lemongrass, vanilla pods, Van der Hum.

What is your favourite restaurant? Curry Palace in Ferndale.

What is your all-time favourite restaurant? KFC - for the sprinkle pops with chutney flavour.

What is your favourite comfort food? Macaroni & cheese.

Who would you most like to cook for? My new husband (fellow chef Trevor Boyd) - he loves whatever I feed him.

Who would you least like to cook for? Anybody with too much money who think they know everything about food and the preparation thereof.

What is your can't-do-without utensil? Pastry knife - I can de-bone a chicken with it if I have to, and I find it very difficult to cut with anything else.

What is the best cooking advice you have received? Simplicity is a sign of perfection.

What will you do with your R40 000? Go on a holiday at the end of the year, and spend all of it on myself!

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