Behind every great man is a great woman, as the aphorism goes, and behind every great restaurant is a great head chef...and a brilliant brigade, a functional kitchen, the best possible ingredients and faultless products. We are fully aware that having a strong arsenal of products and kit that won’t let you down during a busy service is key to the successful running of any kitchen, but which ones are the best?
Spurred on by this question, the Chefs’ Choice Awards were launched back in 2009, where we asked chefs to nominate their preferred suppliers, kit and brands. Now in their sixth year, the awards have gone from strength to strength and now attract huge interest from across the industry spectrum. Hundreds of chefs from restaurants including Tortilla, Bill’s, Nando’s, Wiltons, Hakkasan Group and Hix Restaurants voted across 21 categories for those products and suppliers they know won’t let them down. Here’s the list of the industry’s leading lights, as chosen by you.
A well-equipped kitchen is the foundation of any restaurant and the brand most of you like to see in one is Rational. The combi-oven company comes top in the best equipment category and is also the runaway winner as the best combi-oven, cementing its position as the most indispensable piece of cooking equipment on the market. Falcon, meanwhile, is named best cooking range, with Blue Seal and Bonnet runners up, and Nisbets takes home the best equipment distributor gong.
Turning to smaller kit, Thermomix is regarded as the best gadget for a third consecutive year, with Robot Coupe and Magimix highly commended, and Global remains at the sharp end of the knife category, with special mentions also for MAC and Victorinox.
Bourgeat is once again named as the best pan, narrowly pipping Vogue to the top spot.
Heinz proves yet again that it is the king of condiments, although Schwartz and Tabasco are hot on its heels, and Unilever’s Knorr brand once again comes out top in the best stock category, with Essential Cuisine’s products also highly regarded. Birds Eye is named the best frozen brand, beating McCain to the top slot, while in the chocolate category Valrhona comes highly commended, with Barry Callebaut the overall winner, maintaining its position of last year’s awards. Churchill, meanwhile, overtakes Steelite and last year’s winner Villeroy & Boch to claim the best tableware title.
In drinks, Coca-Cola once again triumphs in the soft drinks category, with notable mentions for Fentimans and Fever-Tree, and in bottled water Hildon again proves to be the most refreshing, with S.Pellegrino and Belu highly commended.
Italy dominates in the coffee category with Illy taking first place and Lavazza named as runner up, although east London-based Square Mile Coffee Roasters flies the flag for England as another highly commended coffee supplier.
Aubrey Allen proves it is a cut above the rest by holding on to the top spot as best meat supplier, with M&J Seafood also retaining its position as the industry’s preferred fish supplier. Fruit and vegetable company Reynolds was named best for fresh produce and Woods Foodservice excelled in the foodservice supplier category, with Bidvest 3663 and Turners Fine Food a close joint second. In EPoS, pointOne leapfrogs last year’s champion Micros, with Comtrex also highly commended, while Matthew Clark is named the industry’s best drinks supplier, ahead of Co Vintners and Liberty Wines. We’ll drink to that.
Chefs’ Choice awards 2015 – the industry’s favourite products and suppliers
Best Meat Supplier
Winner: Aubrey Allen
Highly commended: Fairfax Meadow, Mackens Butchers
Best Fish Supplier
Winner: M&J Seafood
Highly commended: Direct Seafood,
The Upper Scale
Best Drinks Supplier
Winner: Matthew Clark
Highly commended: Co Vintners,
Best Equipment Distributor
Highly commended: Goodfellows, Parsley in Time
Best Foodservice Company
Winner: Woods Foodservice
Highly commended: Bidvest 3663, Turners Fine Foods
Best EPoS Supplier
Highly commended: Micros, Comtrex
Best Fruit & Veg Supplier
Highly commended: Mash Purveyors
Highly commended: Electrolux, Lincat
Best Knife Supplier
Highly commended: MAC, Victorinox
Best Cooking Range
Highly commended: Blue Seal, Bonnet
Best Pan Brand
Highly commended: Vogue, Le Creuset
Best Tableware Supplier
Highly commended: Robert Welch, Steelite
Highly commended: Robot Coupe, Magimix
Best Equipment Brand
Highly commended: Robot Coupe, Hobart
Highly commended: Essential Cuisine
Highly commended: Valrohna
Best Condiment Brand
Highly commended: Schwartz, Tabasco
Best Frozen Brand
Winner: Birds Eye
Highly commended: McCain
Best Soft Drink
Highly commended: Fentimans, Fever-Tree
Highly commended: Lavazza, Square Mile
Best Bottled Water
Highly commended: S.Pellegrino, Belu