Held every four years, the MCA is seen as one of the most prestigious accolades in the industry, with the winners competing in finals staged over the past two months and rewarded at a glittering Gala Dinner held at Claridge’s last night (31 October).
“The MCA is the highest honour in the catering industry,” said John Williams, executive chef at The Ritz and chairman of the Royal Academy of Arts.
“It examines the very finest details in service, pastry and kitchen and is the pinnacle of each discipline. For me, a Master of Culinary Arts is a person who strives for perfection in their profession and has the grace and elegance to promote our craft to the next generation.”
Master of Culinary Arts 2013 winners:
- William Best, Wilton’s Restaurant
- Jeremy Ford, Restaurant Associates
- Frederick Forster, The Boundary, Shoreditch
- Jeff Galvin, Galvin Restaurants
- Steve Love, Love’s Birmingham
Pastry Chefs –
- William Curley, William Curley
- Denis Drame, Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa
- Paul Williams, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons
Restaurant management & service –
- Mourad Ben Tekfa, Le MAnoir aux Quat’ Saisons
- Luigi Cagniin, The Ritz
- Sergio Cappello, The Travellers Club
- David Galetti, Le Gavroche
- Robert Rose, Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road
- Elaine Watson, Gleneagles Hotel
In the finals, the chefs had six-and-a-half hours to prepare and present a whole poached turbot with three garnishes and a saddle of venison with three garnishes, each for eight covers and to be presented on a silver platter.
The pastry chefs had to present a large centrepiece along a musical theatre theme then, during a 10-hour exam, produce a smaller centrepiece inspired by their first piece along with a Gateaux St Honoré, lollipos, croissants and sweet pastries and six portions of plated desserts as designed for their entry in the competition.
Meanwhile the restaurant management and service finalists were assessed in their preparation for and the service of a four-course meal together with an aperitif, four wines and a digestive for two tables of three and four covers.
The MCA is based on the French Meilleur Ouvrier de France and is widely acknowledged as ‘the toughest award in the world of culinary arts’; the judges may award the title to all or none of the candidates depending on the pass mark.
Michel Roux, joint chairman of the MCA Pastry Chefs, said: “The unique characteristic of the MCA compared to other competitions is that the judges all derive from the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts which embodies the elite of our profession in the UK and easily matches the elite of any country in the world.
“Therefore the title is pre-eminent and the ultimate accolade for anyone. In my book, it is the equivalent of winning a gold medal in the Olympic Games.”