Joel Gueller from the two Michelin starred Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons was named RACA Young Chef of the Year, while Polly Chan from the one-star Yautacha was named RACA Young Pastry Chef. Alexander Macleod from the 168-bedroom, Michelin-star The Balmoral hotel picked up the RACA Young Waiter of the Year award.
The awards ceremony on 12 July took place at Claridge’s hotel in London’s Mayfair, hosted by John Williams, chairman of RACA, and Sergio Rebecchi, chairman of the AAE Service committee.
The winners received silver trophies, Meyer cookware, MAC knives, a bursary worth £2,000, and a day’s work experience at the Heston Blumenthal flagship restaurant The Fat Duck, Bray.
A further 24 chefs, pastry chefs and waiters also achieved the required proficiency level to be named AAE standard. They came from across some of the most prestigious establishments in the industry, including The Ritz London, Hakkasan, L’Enclume, and Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles.
The judging panel also included honorary president of the AAE, Heston Blumenthal; Martyn Nail, executive chef of Claridge’s and Adam Byatt, chef patron at Trinity; Yolande Stanley, lecturer in patisserie at Westminster Kingsway College; and John Cousins, director at The Food & Beverage Training Company.
To achieve the award, the participants had to achieve over 70% in the tasks set in each of the categories.
Kitchen finalists had five hours to produce four portions of a starter from a mystery box, four portions of a veal dish with three garnishes and a sauce, and a chocolate orange dessert. Pastry finalists had three to five hours to produce a croquembouche showpiece, two Linzer tortes, and four portions of a seasonal fruit soufflé. Service finalists were asked to decant and describe wines, and set up and serve a three-course meal with wines and liqueurs.
Sara Jayne Stanes, chief executive of RACA, said: “The Annual Awards of Excellence remains at the core of the Academy’s education philosophy, and was, in 1983 when it launched, the first of the Academy’s many contributions that have raised the bar and set standards for the industry.”
John Williams, chairman of RACA, 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 the career of training first themselves sand then others.”
The Royal Academy of the Culinary Arts was founded in 1980, and became “royal” in 2013. Its AAE seeks to encourage young professionals to achieve the highest possible standards in their chosen profession. There is no first, second, or third place; instead finalists are judged on paper and then asked to achieve a certain standard to be given the award.
Sponsors included The Savoy Educational Trust, The City & Guilds, The Maldon Crystal Salt Co, Continental Chef Supplies, and Speyside Glenlivet.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
Jack Croft, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Ruth Hansom, The Ritz London
Elly Wentworth, Lucknam Park Hotel
Hannah Bagshaw, Hakkasan
Ethan Flack, Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons
Irish Hacon, The Langham Hotel
Naomi Longfield, Hakkasan
Faye Weatherburn, The Ritz London
Rebecca Bauhofer, Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles
Ashley Best, The Ritz London
Giuseppe Cola, The Ritz London
Francesco de Santo, The Ritz London
Lewis Dixon, Northcote Manor
Daniel Dreiseitel, The Ritz London
Emma Drummond, The Gleneagles Hotel
Melissa Fergus, The Fat Duck
Laudy Gibba-Smith, L'Enclume
Louis Gillibert, Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons
Giuseppe Laboragine, Petrus
Gerald Murati, The Ritz London
Callum Rees, The Gleneagles Hotel
Gabriele Sorrentino, The Ritz London
Dimitar Tanev, The French by Simon Rogan
Laura Vernet, Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons