James Goodyear, a chef at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, has been dubbed 'one to watch' by the Craft Guild of Chefs (CGC) after achieving the highest ever score in the association's Graduate Awards.
Goodyear's score of 89 per cent in the competition, which tests skills in a range of areas, including fishmongery and butchery, is the highest score in the 10 year history of the awards for chefs under the age of 23.
Awards organiser and CGC vice president Steve Munkely said Goodyear had shown a level of professionalism that was more commonly associated with more 'seasoned chefs' in the industry.
“He got his head down and grafted throughout the three hour practical exam, working spotlessly and as a consummate professional, with the work ethic of a seasoned chef. Definitely one to watch out for," he said.
Another four out of 12 finalists in this year's competition scored 85 per cent or more in the competition, which meant they also passed the graduate exams. They were Rebecca Reeves from the House of Commons, Ben Champkin from The Elephant in Torquay, Kristian Curtis from Simpsons in Birmingham and Brian James from The Bluebells Restaurant and Bar in Sunningdale.
All five graduates were rewarded at the awards ceremony at London’s Royal Garden Hotel yesterday along with Nick Sinclair of The Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge who received an employers' trophy for excellence in training.
Munkley said standards at the final cooking exam at the University of West London on 6 September had been very high and he had been impressed by the skills demonstrated in certain tasks.
“The fishmongery, for which we supplied each candidate with a two kilo seabass and a mystery basket to create a main course for four, was excellent this year, with two of the candidates awarded full marks, something we’ve never seen before in a skills test,” he said. “The examiners couldn’t find anything to fault. They demonstrated their fishmongery skills perfectly, from the cooking degree of the fish to bringing out the tastes and flavours.
“Overall, each finalist was enthusiastic, focused, with 100 percent concentration, and I’d say that the ones who didn’t pass will be back as they weren’t very far off the mark at all. It was a learning curve and they just need to hone a couple of skills, helped by a feedback report from the panel.”
The Graduate Awards, open to all chefs aged under 23, are designed to test skills learnt at college and then transferred into the workplace. As well as gaining new skills and the graduate title for their CVs, graduates get the chance to go on a study tour to Luxembourg with Villeroy & Boch and make a visit to a Scottish fish farm through James Knight of Mayfair.