Chris Kenny from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire and Sophie Henderson from Restaurant John Campbell at Coworth Park in Berkshire have won the 2011 Young Chef Young Waiter competition.
The pair were announced as the winners of the annual competition at an awards ceremony held at London's Landmark hotel last night, after a hotly contested cook-and-serve competition at London's Westminster Kingsway College.
Kenny, senior chef de partie at Le Manoir, took the chef title, with Henderson, chef de rang at Coworth Park, walking away with the waiting title.
Second were chef Tom Barnes from L'Enclume in Cumbria and waiter Emilio Conti, also from Coworth Park, while third place went to chef Chris John from Pied à Terre, and waiter Burak Sen from the Ritz London.
During the competition, the chefs were presented with a mystery basket of ingredients including sea bass, mussels, grouse, celery and chocolate.
Chefs were judged on their choice of menu, their cooking skills and timing, while waiters were judged on their skill in serving the meal, customer contact skills and professionalism of their wine service.
Now in its 27th year, Young Chef Young Waiter introduced new special skills awards to the competition this year, including best barista, best wine knowledge and best cheese knowledge for the waiters, all of which were awarded to overall winner Henderson.
The chefs' best skills awards included best original dish, which went to Kenny; best dessert, which was awarded to Jonathan Bone from Restaurant Gordon Ramsay; and best kitchen craft, which went to Barnes.
Judges included Bruce Poole, chef-proprietor of the Michelin-starred Chez Bruce, as the chair of the chef judges, and Stephen Mannock, general manager of the Edge Hotel School in Essex, as the chair of the waiter judges, who will step down from their chairing posts. Angela Hartnett, chef-proprietor of Murano in London, will take over from Poole as the new chair of the chef judges next year, while Mannock's successor has not yet been appointed.
Kenny and Henderson received a selection of prizes including £1,000 each courtesy of the Savoy Educational Trust, a three-day visit to Villeroy and Boch porcelain factory and overnight stay at Château Septfontaines, with a Michelin-star dinner in Luxembourg. Matthew Clark and Hatch Mansfield will take the winners on an educational trip to Louis Jadot in Burgundy and Jean-Luc Colombo in the Rhône Valley.
Young Chef Young Waiter rewards the best young professionals aged 25 and under. It is organised by the Restaurant Association in partnership with HSBC, the Savoy Educational Trust and Sodexo.
Chairman of the Restaurant Association Bob Walton said: "This year's competition had a record levels of entries, particularly from Scotland, and a larger selection of establishments from across the industry.
"Hospitality is the fifth-largest employer in the UK and it's so important that this competition continues as it recognises the future talent of our industry."
By Kerstin Kühn
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Published by: The Caterer