Josh Bingham from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons has taken the highest achiever title with an unmatched score of 90% in the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards, presented this evening at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London.
TV chef Paul Gayler MBE was "astounded" at the standard at this year's final exam, which resulted in five chefs making the grade.
Awards organiser and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs Steve Munkley, who hosted the awards presentation, said: "Paul was astounded that there was not one dish that he couldn't have served up to a client.
"In my view, we had the best bunch of finalists we've ever had and it was extremely close. One candidate even got full marks in the fishmongery, which has never happened before. It was an absolute pleasure to be part of the process this year."
In a new move for the programme, finalists this year took part in a ‘foodie' mentor day with Craft Guild chefs in preparation for the final, which Munkley believes helped to raise the standard.
"We identified that there was a shortfall in the time busy young chefs could devote to getting ready for the final and the mentor day helped prepare our seven finalists mentally," added Munkley, executive chef at the Royal Garden hotel, London.
"They had a full eight hours to talk about what was going to happen and ask questions; an opportunity to nail things down."
The other four successful graduates who passed their final exam at the University of West London last week, were: Claire Willett from the Waterfront Restaurant; Daniel Lee from The Brooklands Hotel; Danny Hoang from Viajante; and Luke Selby also from Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons.
The awards are designed to take what chefs under the age of 23 have learnt at college and started to hone in the workplace to the next level. Candidates need to score 85% to pass.
This year's graduates win a European study tour with Villeroy & Boch and a trip to Severn & Wye Smokery arranged by James Knight of Mayfair. Bingham also receives a three-night break for two courtesy of Warner Hotels.
The awards also include an Employers' trophy for excellence in training, this year won by Raymond Thompson from the University of Stirling.