Cateys 2023: Education and Training Award: Steve Munkley

04 July 2023
Cateys 2023: Education and Training Award: Steve Munkley

Steve Munkley wins the Education and Training Award sponsored by Liberty Wines

Vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs (CGC) Steve Munkley has scooped the Education and Training Award for his creation and leadership of the CGC Graduate Awards.

In 2022, the Graduate Awards celebrated two decades of providing innovative training and development opportunities for young chefs. Munkley kickstarted the initiative in 2003 when he saw a gap in the education and execution of skills by young chefs once they had completed college training. He has gone the extra mile to help chefs achieve their goals ever since, with one award recipient touting the achievement as having set him on his way to winning his restaurant a Michelin star. In one of the judges' words, Munkley's work with the training programme has helped confirm he is "one of the greats of hospitality".

Since its inception, 726 chefs have entered the CGC Graduate Awards kitchen exam. Munkley founded the pastry exam in 2016 and, since then, 80 chefs have entered. From these two events, 416 chefs have made it to the semi-final stage and 235 have completed the final. Last year 93 chefs achieved the Graduate Awards and Munkley is aiming for this to exceed 100 this year.

The Graduate Awards is lauded as improving retention rates, as young chefs like to stay with their mentor throughout the journey and many are promoted once they achieve the award. The award often opens a pathway for other events such as Young National Chef of the Year and World Skills.

In order to complete the Kitchen Graduate Award, the chefs sit a paper exam, complete skills tests in butchery and fishmongery, create a classic dessert and serve up their own dish from a mystery basket of ingredients. The Pastry exam sees chefs take on a number of industry-relevant challenges set by the chair. To ensure the programme stays relevant, these challenges change each year, along with the curriculum as a whole. The aim is to reflect industry trends, while maintaining the classic culinary skills chefs need for a successful career.

Munkley works with head chefs and colleges across the UK to ensure his curriculum aligns with industry standards and has introduced a mentoring award to recognise the role senior chefs play when a candidate graduates. Gary Jones, former executive chef at Le Manoir, who has mentored many chefs through the Graduate Awards, said: "Steve has ensured that the Graduate Awards give aspiring young chefs an attainable, reachable target that builds on their confidence levels, self-esteem and wellbeing."

What the judges said

"A very dedicated and passionate individual who always goes that extra mile to achieve the desired outcomes for the benefit of the industry and individuals." David Foskett

"Steve has demonstrated a passion and a consistent commitment to the Kitchen Graduate Awards for two decades, which is an astonishing feat for any professional. His involvement has affected not only the lives of the amazing chefs that he has produced but also, through them, the industry as a whole." Andrew Boer

The shortlist

  • Hilary Cooke, Merlin Business Consultancy
  • Peter Jones, Peter Jones International Hospitality Consultancy
  • Steve Munkley, Craft Guild of Chefs
  • Adele Oxberry, Umbrella Training
  • Jill Whittaker, HIT Training

The judges

  • Beth Aarons, Dorchester Collection
  • Andrew Boer, the Edge Hotel School
  • John Cousins, the Food and Beverage Training Company
  • Adrian Ellis, the Lowry hotel
  • David Foskett, David Foskett Associates
  • David McKown, University of Sheffield
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