Daniel Cornish, senior chef de partie at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire, was announced the Craft Guild of Chefs' Young National Chef of the Year at an awards ceremony in London earlier this evening in front of some of the biggest names in hospitality.
His impressive menu included Scotch broth served with spelt bread and celeriac purée; fish and chips with pickled cockles, mushy peas and a curried rouille; and a pear and macadamia crumble with a set ginger custard.
Matt Nicholls, sous chef at Cheal's of Henley in Warwickshire, was announced as the runner-up, with Stephen Naylor, junior sous chef at Restaurant Story in London, taking third place.
The final took place behind closed doors at Cord by Le Cordon Bleu last month but was premiered tonight on the big screen at the Everyman Cinema in Broadgate.
At the cook-off, the finalists were required to present a three-course menu of British themed dishes with a twist, including a modern vegetarian or vegan version of a classic Scotch broth.
Using inspiration from Knorr's Future 50 beans and pulses and cereals and grains categories, judges were on the hunt for an innovative approach and for chefs to elevate the humble broth to a fine dining experience.
The main course gave chefs the chance to present their own take on a classic British fish and chips using a prime fillet of Seafood from Norway haddock or cod. Finalists had to create their own interpretation of the classic crumble using seasonal fruits for dessert.
Chair of judges Hrishikesh Desai, executive chef/food and beverage manager at Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, said: "I loved designing this brief which allowed the chefs to really show us their creativity and elevate some simple British classics to a fine dining stage. Whilst many admitted to finding the brief challenging, all the finalists rose to the occasion and the variety of dishes we saw across the competition was really inspiring. This made it an extremely close final where we had to look at every little detail including cleanliness and organisation. However, Daniel cooked three consistently beautiful dishes which were well-balanced, and the flavours were fresh, light and very tasty. All the finalists were supported by their mentors who had helped to prepare them well for such a big competition. There's no doubt our industry is in great hands with a bright future."
Organiser of Young National Chef of the Year and food innovation and sustainability director at Sodexo UK and Ireland, David Mulcahy, added: "We had 10 talented finalists from a variety of sectors which led to a thrilling final with a truly inspiring criteria. Ahead of the cook-off, the finalists had lots to learn about Future 50 Foods as they put sustainability first and were encouraged to consider other ingredients. It is so important for these young chefs to learn about this initiative and the importance of cooking sustainably as they grow and work their way through the industry.
"Not only did the finalists all serve up creative, innovative and modern dishes but they executed them really well which is so important. It was both reassuring and inspiring for the judges to see this level of cooking coming from chefs at the earlier stages of their career."
Cornish's prizes also include a trial session in a Michelin-starred restaurant, a culinary trip to Norway with Michel Roux Jr in conjunction with Seafood From Norway, and membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs.