The heats, held at the University of West London and University College Birmingham, were judged by a panel of experts, including chair of examiners and former National Chef of the Year Russell Bateman. This is the first year that the Pastry examination has existed, as a means to combat the current skills shortage in this area.
The finals will now take place on 30 August. All chefs who achieve a score of 85% and over in the final exam will then be invited to an awards presentation evening at the Park Lane hotel on 6 September.
The chefs hail from establishments such as The Ledbury, The Bingham, The Ritz, Galvin La Chappelle, Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, and The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.
In the meantime, the finalists will be invited to a mentor day, including masterclasses and tests on skills such as butchery and fishmongery, a challenge using mystery basket ingredients, plus the creation of a main course and dessert, and pastry challenges for the four pastry finalists.
Founder and organiser of the awards, Steve Munkley, executive head chef at the Royal Garden Hotel, said: “I’ve been doing this for many years and the quality of establishments that the candidates have come from is amazing. It’s possibly the best line up we have ever had with the first round scoring being very high. We’ll be doing everything we can to help them achieve this.”
Bateman added: “It was also fantastic to see a diversity of culinary backgrounds and experience with chefs from contract catering, hotels, restaurants and even a college student. I was extremely happy with the standard of cooking and only see bright futures for all involved."
The Graduate Awards are open to professional chefs aged 23 and under.
FULL LIST OF FINALISTS
Ben Brooke, Galvin La Chapelle
Erin Jackson Yates, Wiltons
Jake Leach, The Ledbury
Eleanor De Maria, Compass House
Keiron McGarrigle, Westminster Kingsway College
Andre Rhone, The Bingham
Amber Francis, The Ritz
Louise Ellen Roberts, Lexington
Joseph Allen, The Woodford
Lewis Kuciers, Black Bull
Aaron Middleton, Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons
Dudley Pankhurst, Cunninghams Bistro
Rita Souto, Park Lane Hotel
Fiona Bailey, The Dragon
Elizabeth McBride, Hix Soho
Kacey Bignell, The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park