The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts has announced the 18 winners of this year’s Annual Awards of Excellence (AAE).
The AAE is an examination rather than a competition, and all or none of the candidates could achieve the award depending on their ability to attain a score of over 70% in the tasks set and judged by industry leaders, including chair John Williams, executive chef at the Ritz London.
The purpose of the awards is to inspire and encourage young professionals to achieve the highest possible standards in their chosen profession and to offer them guidelines for success in their career.
Service finalists were required to set up and silver-serve a three-course meal and decant and describe wines to a table of two guest judges. Kitchen finalists had five hours to produce four portions of a starter, using ingredients from a mystery box, where mackerel was the central component; four portions of their own modern interpretation of a French-trimmed rack of lamb, from the entry task each candidate had previously prepared; and a single 20cm savarin finished with Chantilly cream, strawberries and raspberries.
Pastry finalists were given the theme of a christening and had five and a half hours to produce 15 vegan bonbons (moulded chocolate with ganache) and 15 Swiss rochers. Candidates also needed to produce 15 marshmallow lollipops and a 20cm christening cake entremet-style that sat on top of a nougatine stand.
The awardees included:
• Thomas Gammella, the Woodspeen Restaurant & Cookery School, Newbury, Berkshire
• Dawid Szczucki, Number One, the Balmoral hotel, Edinburgh
• Andrea Nuninger, Restaurant Coworth Park, Ascot, Berkshire
• Mattia Marcelli, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, London
• Eleanor Dimes, Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park, Chippenham, Wiltshire
• Sophie Heyer, the Strathearn, Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Perthshire
• Kayleigh Thorogood, L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
• Miguel Blanco, the Ritz London
• Mariangel Victoria Padrón Franchy, the Vineyard hotel, Newbury, Berkshire
• Charles Parkins, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire
• Lillian Savage, the Royal Household
• Ellie Smith, the Wolseley, London
• Lydia Uglow, Pretty Sweet, London
• Daniel Cornish, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
• Charlie Crote, Allegra, London
• Rich Henderson, Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park
• Dwayne Marcellin, HSBC Restaurant Associates
• Jamaar Semper-House, Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park
The judges included:
• Honorary president: Jason Atherton, chef-patron of the Social Company
• Chairman: John Williams, executive chef, the Ritz London
• Chairmen of kitchen: Martyn Nail, executive chef at Claridge’s in London
• Hywel Jones, head chef at Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park
• Chairmen of pastry: Yolande Stanley, the Pastry Training Company
• Sarah Hartnett, pastry consultant
• Joint chairmen of service: Sergio Rebecchi, director of Serenata Hospitality, and John Cousins, director of the Food and Beverage Training Company.
The winning candidates are invited to a gala dinner at Claridge’s on 12 July, at which they will be presented with a diploma, a chef’s jacket (for the kitchen and pastry winners) or lapel pin (for the service winners), and a magnum of Champagne Laurent-Perrier.
The candidate who has scored the highest mark in each section – the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Young Chef, Young Pastry Chef or Young Waiter of the Year – will be announced at the dinner and presented with prizes including a Savoy Educational Trust scholarship, Robert Welch knives, a trophy and work experience at the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, and Jason Atherton’s Social Company.
Since it began in 1983, more than 600 young professionals have achieved the award.