Four chefs make the grade in the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards
Four young chefs pushed the boundaries and achieved top marks in the Craft Guild of Chefs' annual Graduate Award examinations.
Jack Allibone, commis chef at the House of Commons; Jordan Bailey, commis chef at The Elephant Restaurant in Torquay; Chris Kenny, demi chef de partie at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons; and Emily Webb, first commis chef at the Royal Garden Hotel, were all top scoring graduates having achieved the 85% pass mark. But with a staggering 87%, Jack Allibone was acclaimed the highest achiever of all.
Now in its eighth year, these exams stretch working chefs up to the age of 23 to the limit and all 11 finalists were feted by the industry at a special awards lunch held at the Royal Garden Hotel in London on September 14.
Having got through the regional heats, the chefs had gone through the arduous final that took in a theory exam to judge their knowledge about food, then a practical exam to showcase their skills in butchery and fishmongery, and they had to produce a lamb dish from a mystery basket, a classical fish dish – sole Flaubert, and a classical pear dessert – tarte Baudelaire.
To celebrate their achievement, each graduate won study tours to Luxembourg with Villeroy & Boch and a Scottish fish farm arranged by James Knight of Mayfair. Highest achiever Allibone received an extra prize of a three day study tour to the south of France, courtesy of McCormick's Schwartz spices, accompanied by the company's concept development chef Steve Love to witness at first hand the journey of herbs and spices.
All finalists were awarded a personalised chef's jacket, a year's Craft Guild membership, a bottle of Pommery champagne, and a knife from Robert Welch Knives.
This year the Employers' trophy for excellence in training, which goes to the person who has mentored and supported their chef during the training for the exams, went to Gary Jones of Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons.
Craft Guild vice president and organiser Steve Munkley said that this year there was a change of proceedings with leading chef Chris Galvin, notably from Galvin at Windows, taking on the role of chair of the examiners.
Munkley said the new graduates should be extremely proud of their achievements. "Chris Galvin had never been to this event before and thought it was fabulous; he'd never seen young chefs tested so thoroughly with such a level of support. To impress top chefs who have been in the industry more years than they care to remember is no mean feat and all four graduates thoroughly deserve the recognition they worked so hard for."
Galvin said he was blown away by the attention to detail in this competition and did wonder "could I do this at that age?". "I was really impressed by the calibre of the chefs who turned up on the day – smart and well turned out too. I've seen great chefs around London supporting this competition and I've had great feedback for all these competitors," he said.
Galvin, reminded of the days when he had little money to spend on eating out and how important it was for chefs to do this to experience other restaurants' dishes, awarded all the finalists a bonus prize of dinner with their partner at Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields, London, which is headed by his brother Jeff.
Munkley added: "On top of the wonderful privileges they receive from the Craft Guild and its partners, plus the opportunity to gain new skills and build on their CV, our new graduates have instantly elevated their status in the culinary industry ten-fold."
The Graduate Award 2010 finalists
Jack Allibone – House of Commons
Dale Anderson- Smith – Westminster Kingsway College
Jordon Bailey – The Elephant Restaurant
Sean Beckerleg – Saunton Sands Hotel
Daniel Beech – Grosvenor Hotel & Spa
Thomas Biddle – Marriott Forest of Arden
James Hirst – Clanfield Tavern
Chris Kenny – Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons
Chris Munroe – Royal Garden Hotel
Tina Severn – 1 Lombard Street
Emily Webb – Royal Garden Hotel
Watch the final of the 2010 Graduate awards here:
Words: Sheila Eggleston
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