This year marks the fourth Kitchen Porter (KP) of the Year competition and so far it is going great guns. Entries have been pouring in from all across the UK, with many esteemed chefs such as Chris McGowan (Wine & Brine) and Jay Eisenstadt (Stormont Hotel) lending their support.
KP of the Year was developed by Winterhalter UK in partnership with The Caterer as way of recognising and celebrating the challenging, diverse and often overlooked role KPs play in the commercial kitchen. As well as pubs and restaurants, the competition is open to schools, universities, conferences and hotels across the UK. Any establishment with a KP worth praising should consider entering.
“It’s not just about standing next to a machine, it’s so much more than that,” says Chris McGowan, owner and executive chef of Wine & Brine. “To me, a good KP is as good and important as a senior chef de partie.
“They’re the absolute backbone of the kitchen.”
The prizes include £1000 cash for the winner, a celebratory meal and a free Winterhalter warewasher for their workplace. Anyone who enters will receive an exclusive KP of the Year presentation tin and apron, created by Oliver Harvey, and the two runners up each receive £250 in cash.
Many chefs get their first taste of the kitchen as KPs, and it can be an important stepping-stone for anyone looking for a career in hospitality.
“We had a young guy, William, from the Ivory Coast,” says Chris. “He was KP for us, and then we moved him on to the vegetable section. He went on to work with Gary Rhodes and the last I heard he was the head chef in a five-star hotel in London.
“I started work as a kitchen porter. A lot of chefs do, so for me the role of KP can never be undermined.”
While it can lead to careers in other areas of the kitchen, for many establishments the role of KP is a profession in itself.
“The guys I have now are more what we call professional kitchen porters. It’s what they do and they do it well,” says Jay Eisenstadt, head chef at Stormont Hotel. “I don’t have one on staff that would let me down. I’m very lucky and it’s taken me years to cultivate them.
“They are the glue that holds the kitchen together”.
For more information about the competition and how to enter, head to kpoftheyear.com. The deadline for entries is 5th August 2016.