Eight chefs and eight waiters have made it through the regional finals to claim coveted places in the national final of the 2002 Young Chef Young Waiter competition.
The regional heats were held at St Helen's College, Merseyside, and Oxford Brookes University on 10 and 12 September respectively, when the two judging panels, chaired by John Torode of Smiths of Smithfield and Annie Schwab of Winteringham Fields, put 64 young hopefuls through their paces with a series of tasks designed to test basic skills.
Chefs were asked to bone a duck, prepare the legs for confit, score, season, sear and roast the breasts, score and wok-fry a squid and clarify a consommé. Following that, they were presented with a surprise basket of ingredients, including squid, minced pork and chicken livers, from which they were asked to prepare two covers of a starter or main course.
Meanwhile, the waiters took part in a blind tasting to test wine-recognition skills, served Champagne, identified errors on a pre-set table, cleared down a table of four covers in preparation for dessert, prepared Irish coffee and served coq au vin.
For the national final, taking place at London's Westminster Kingsway College on 14 October, chefs and waiters will pair up to cook and serve a three-course lunch to invited guests. The results will be announced that evening at an awards ceremony at the Park Lane hotel, with the winners receiving £2,000 and a trip to the seven-star Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai, including a course at the Emirates Academy. All 16 finalists have already visited Reims with Champagne Louis Roederer.
The competition is organised by the Restaurant Association in partnership with American Express, and sponsored by the Savoy Educational Trust.
by Diane Lane
Young Waiter finalists
Russell Bennett, 24, chef de rang, Northcote Manor, Lancashire
Samuel Cotté, 22, waiter, Le Pont de la Tour, London
Giovanni Ferraris, 22, chef de rang, Chewton Glen hotel, Hampshire
Stephen Garland, 25, chef de rang, Gleneagles hotel, Auchterarder
Lucy Hawley, 23, restaurant supervisor, Rowan's restaurant, Berkshire
Stephen Weir, 23, lead steward, Venice Simplon Orient-Express
Matthew Wilson, 21, senior supervisor, London Hilton Gatwick Airport, West Sussex
Johanna Wimmer, 24, head waiter, Mosimann's, London
Young Chef finalists
Lisa Allen, 21, demi chef de partie, Northcote Manor, Lancashire
Steven Allen, 23, senior chef de partie, Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, London
Neal Dove, 25, senior sous chef, Hazlewood Castle hotel, Yorkshire
Brett Graham, 23, sous chef, the Square, London
Graham Kirk, 23, senior chef de partie, Potting Shed restaurant, Bruntsfield hotel, Edinburgh
Nathan Outlaw, 24, senior sous chef, the Vineyard at Stockcross, Newbury
James Lester, 25, senior sous chef, Baxter & Platts, London
Seth Ward, 22, senior chef de partie, St Davids Hotel & Spa, Cardiff