From 60 Kitchen Graduate Award entrants, 24 young chefs were given the opportunity to cook in the London or Sheffield heat of the Graduate Awards on Wednesday, 23rd May, 2018. The young chefs are currently working in some outstanding kitchens across all sectors including Michelin-starred restaurants, hotels, contract catering and pubs. Some of these chefs were back to try the Graduate Awards for the second time, recognising the desire that young chefs have to develop their skills and take their career to the next level.
Seven pastry chefs had to impress the tough examiners in the Pastry heat which took place at the University of West London on Friday, 25th May, 2018 under the watchful eye of Chair of examiners, Will Torrent.
The Graduate Awards were founded in 2002 by Craft Guild of Chefs’ Vice-President, Steve Munkley, who saw a real need in the industry for providing formal recognition of young chefs’ culinary excellence. The Kitchen and Pastry Graduate examination is for chefs aged 23 and under, to test and improve the skills which they have learnt at college and in their early careers and take them to the next level. At the final exam, only chefs who achieve a pass mark of 85% or higher will enter the Graduate Awards Hall of Fame. Chefs will sit a formal paper exam before going on to complete a series of butchery and fishmongery tasks and then cooking their own dish with a mystery basket of ingredients and creating a classic dessert.
The 10 Kitchen Graduate Finalists for 2018 are:
- Ben Cowley, Simpsons Restaurant
- George Birtwell, TRUEfoods
- Isabel Wallace-Hadrill, Coutts Bank
- Jordon Powell, 1877 Restaurant – Wotton House Hotel
- Zachary Hermon, Dormy House
- Chor Fai Shek, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
- Bronwen Jenkins, Royal Garden Hotel
- Josh Mcgeoghan, Colettes at The Grove
- Adam Nevin, Alyn Williams at the Westbury
- Faye Natalie De Souza, Restaurant Associates at Deloitte
Five pastry chef finalists have been revealed:
• Ieuan Davies, Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa
• Evie Mae Moore, Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard
• Sofia Petrova, Ham Yard Hotel
• Emile Druart, The Vineyard
• Emma Lawson, Northcote Manor
Before the final exam takes place, the chefs will have the opportunity to practise their skills further, especially at the two-day mentor experience at Cadbury Court in July. Each finalist will be able to learn from industry experts whilst developing their skills ahead of the final exam. This new experience for 2018 provides an opportunity for chefs to network with industry peers, sponsors and judges and push themselves into the limelight via the Craft Guild of Chefs’ social media channels.
Commenting on what he saw at the semi-finals, Steve Munkley, founder and Vice-President of the Graduate Awards said: “It was a tough exam but with some excellent results. The skills tests were especially pleasing as you could see the chefs had really gone out of their way to practice, which is such an important element of the Graduate Awards. In the mystery basket we used rabbit as the protein and this led to some delicious dishes. For the classic dessert, the Pear Bordeleau turned out some super looking and tasting tarts. All the chefs finished on time, showing the judges they had good organisational skills, which is always great to see. We are in for an exciting final and I’m hopeful we will see a good number of candidates achieve the pass mark again this year.”
Will Torrent, as Chair of pastry examiners added: “The Pastry judges and I were blown away by the standard produced by the young chefs this year. It really showed what great mentorship from head pastry chefs can do to nurture fantastic young talent. The final tasks are being decided as we speak and knowing what we saw them do last week, it makes the final a very tasty prospect.”
Receiving the Graduate Award has proved career changing with previous graduates going on to gain Michelin stars, work in some of the world’s top restaurants, be part of the World Skills team and even win The Young National Chef of the Year title. The Highest Achiever will automatically be seeded into next year’s Young National Chef of the Year final with all Graduate Achievers being offered a place in the semi-finals in June 2019.
You can follow all the action from the Graduate Awards 2018 on social media by following #CGCGradAwards.