Eight talented chefs are celebrating after hearing they have passed the challenging Graduate Awards and first Pastry Graduate Awards final exam. The latest Craft Guild of Chefs’ Graduates were given the news at a glittering awards ceremony at the Sheraton Grand Hotel.
Five chefs passed the Kitchen Graduate Award with Amber Francis from The Ritz taking the Highest Achiever prize. Also achieving the pass mark was Erin Jackson Yates from Wiltons, Eleanor De Maria who works at Compass House, Andre Rhone from The Bingham and Aaron Middleton who works at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Kacey Bignell from The Mandarin Oriental Hotel was awarded the Highest Achiever Award in the inaugural Pastry Graduate Exam with Rita Souto from Park Lane Hilton and Fiona Bailey from The Dragon also making the grade.
Steve Munkley, organiser and founder of the Graduate Awards, said “Congratulations to all the new Graduates and our first ever Pastry Graduates. We threw in a couple of curveballs this year and all the chefs rose to the challenge. I’m confident this is down to the help and support they were given throughout the process, including our two mentor days and the ongoing advice from their employers.”
Daniel Kent, head chef at Wiltons was awarded the Mentor Award for his support of Erin Jackson Yates.
Speaking after the exam, chair of examiners, Russell Bateman, said “The standard in the final exam has gone to another level from the heats and it was fantastic to see growth and development in the chefs. Whether they achieve the pass mark or not, entering the Graduate Awards is only going to make young chefs stronger. It’s great to bring together a group of like-minded chefs who all want to grow and develop their skills.
“These will be the head chefs of the future, opening their own restaurants or running hotel kitchens. Around the world, chefs are going back to basics and focusing on culinary skills and classic dishes and this is something the Graduate Awards has been doing for the last 14 years so I’m very proud to be involved.”
Yolande Stanley, chair of pastry examiners, commented: “Developing a Pastry Graduate Award is something Steve Munkley and I have been wanting to do for some time so it’s fantastic to see this new award off the ground, and I was delighted to reveal the first three Pastry Graduates to enter the Hall of Fame. It’s important we put Pastry Chefs in the spotlight and I hope this is the start of something big for the Craft Guild of Chefs and the pastry industry.”