The leading lights of the hospitality industry came together this month to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Academy of Culinary Arts’ Annual Awards of Excellence, with winners revealed in the kitchen, pastry and service categories.
The Awards, which aim to inspire and encourage young people to achieve the highest possible standards in their chosen profession, saw over 100 young workers take part in seven semi-finals across the UK. Heston Blumenthal was this year’s honorary president.
The Academy of Culinary Arts Young Chef of the Year went to Ian Musgrave of The Ritz; Melissa Paul of William Curley scooped the Young Pastry Chef of the Year award and Romain Crozat from Galvin at Windows took home the gong for Young Waiter of the Year.
After the finals held in April, a total of 24 candidates successfully achieved the Award of Excellence and were invited to a Gala Presentation Dinner at which they were presented with a certificate recognising their achievement and a chefs jacket (kitchen and pastry) or sommeliers apron (service).
John Williams, chairman of the Academy of Culinary Arts, said: “I hope that through the Annual Awards of Excellence we can motivate and inspire the industry’s young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters to undertake a career of training first themselves, and then others; and to look outside the workplace to wider industry and opportunities.”
Sara Jayne Stanes OBE, chief executive of the Academy of Culinary Arts, added: “The Annual Awards of Excellence remains at the core of the Academy’s education philosophy and was, in 1983 when it was launched, the first of the Academy’s many contributions that have raised the bar and to set standards for the industry for the past three decades.”
- Romain Crozat, Young Waiter of the Year: “I was proud to win the AAE as it is a tradition, I entered because I liked that everyone could achieve the award; it really created a different atmosphere.”
- Ian Musgrave, Young Chef of the Year: “I enjoyed cooking alongside chefs I’d never met before. The AAE showed me that my skills were up there with other entrants which gave me a lot of confidence.”
- Melissa Paul, Young Pastry Chef of the Year: “The Annual Awards of Excellence was my first competition, it was very challenging but it was really rewarding. I’ve learnt a lot of extra skills and advanced ones that I already knew.”
To achieve the award, candidates had to attain a score of over 70 per cent in the tasks set. Kitchen finalists had four-and-a-half hours to produce a sea trout starter using ingredients from a mystery box; short saddle of lamb with fondant potatoes, turned glazed carrots, peas and broad beans; and a modern interpretation of an eton mess.
Pastry finalists had five hours to produce two entremets gateaux comprising strawberry mousse and a minimum of three other components; petits fours using choux paste, sable paste and spon/dacquoise/joconde and a display piece to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Annual Awards of Excellence.
Service finalists were required to decant and describe wines to the judging panel and set up and serve a three-course meal with wines and liqueurs to a table of two guest judges.
Full list of award-winners:
- Jack Allibone, Simpsons Restaurant
- Michael Hodges, The Ebury
- Ben Howarth, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
- Danny Lee, Galvin La Chapelle
- Ian Musgrave, The Ritz
- Aaron Potter, Trinity Restaurant
- Luke Selby, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
- Thomas Swanborough
- Melissa Paul, William Curley
- Diana Sedlakova, Chancery Court Hotel
- Charles Beaini, The Hand and Flowers
- Colett Becker, The Ritz
- Matthew Busby, Gleneagles
- Romain Crozat, Galvin at Windows
- Benjamin Debloos, Le Gavroche
- Gavin Jones, Rudding Park Hotel
- Stuart McIvor, Galvin at Windows
- Mhairi Mutch, Gleneagles
- Joana Maria Pons Gari, Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles
- Claire Ratcliffe, Le Gavroche
- Swayam Roka, Gleneagles
- Alexandre Sojfer, Le Gavroche
- Stephanie Srey, Galvin at Windows
- Jonathan Whitemore, Ellenborough Park Hotel
The three candidates who scored the highest mark in each section were awarded with prizes including a scholarship from the Savoy Educational Trust, Meyer cookware and Victorinox knives.