Launched in 1987 and now in its 30th year, the awards celebrate those who display a mastery of the complex and advanced specialised knowledge and skills in culinary arts and restaurant management; accept accountability for their decision-making; contribute to supervision and management; express comprehensive knowledge of the principles of sustainability and the viability of our food sources throughout the scope of the food chain; demonstrate leadership and support the development of others; and act in the best interests of the hospitality profession. Amongst the sixteen who reached Finals, staged throughout September, were leading chefs, pastry chefs and restaurant managers from some of the best culinary establishments in the UK.
The seven winners of the MCA who demonstrated to the judges the exceptional standard required to achieve this supreme honour were celebrated at the Gala Presentation Dinner on Thursday 5th October at Claridge’s, London. They are:
Adam Bennett, Chef Director, The Cross at Kenilworth
Chris Hill, Premier Sous Chef, The Ritz Hotel
Adam Smith, Executive Chef, Coworth Park
Adam Thomason, Head Chef, Deloitte, Restaurant Associates
Anthony Wright, Senior Chef Lecturer, University College Birmingham
RESTAURANT MANAGEMENT AND SERVICE
Alessandro Fasoli, General Manager, The Woodspeen Restaurant and Cookery School
Giovanni Ferlito, Head of Wine and Beverage, The Ritz London.
All the candidates face a high level of demanding challenges and 2017 was no exception. In order to reach the Finals, each discipline had to win through a number of trials that tested not only technical and artistic mastery of their craft but also the ability to work under extreme pressure of running a restaurant and/or a kitchen, motivating a team, customer service, and, in the case of the Restaurant Managers, speak two languages fluently, display universal social skills, wine appreciation and menu pairing, organising events and managing a balance sheet.
It is with disappointment that, despite the judges’ confidence in the pastry candidates based on the previous challenging semi-finals, it the first time that all the finalists in this category have not been successful.
Brian J. Turner CBE, president of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, commented “Like fine wines, some years produce great vintages, some years are less fruitful. This prominent award is based on perfection. The judges, experienced industry professionals and MCA holders themselves, are looking for candidates to deliver the highest standards under the extremes of pressure that working in the catering industry demands on a day-to-day basis.
“It is for this reason that only a very few candidates ever achieve this standard. It takes real courage to enter the MCA and exceptional skill, to reach the finals. This year we have seen some immensely talented and dedicated individuals yet only seven from two of the three disciplines were able to demonstrate the unique talent to win this esteemed title. We hope that those who were less successful this year will take heart and be inspired by previous winners and that they will contend again.”
Chef Finalists had six and a half hours to prepare and present a Dover sole dish using langoustines, mussels and razor clams, and a partridge dish, each dish accompanied with three garnishes. Each dish was prepared for eight covers, all portions of the Dover sole were plated, and the partridge dish was presented on a silver flat with two plated portions.
Pastry Chef Finalists were required to present a large centrepiece reflecting the theme: ‘The Sea: Above, below or on the seashore’. During the twelve hour examination they had to produce a small centrepiece inspired by their main piece; Pudding Soufflé Royale; three types of confectionery, including Nougat Montelimar, miniature layered chocolate bar and a confection using both pâte de fruit and marshmallow; fruit Pithivier using either pear or apple; Gateâu Succès; and a mystery task.
Together with a commis of their choice, Restaurant Management & Service Finalists were assessed on their preparation and the service of a four-course meal to two tables each, one of three covers and one of four. The menu included Laurent Perrier Champagne, four wines and a digestive.