Eight chefs make the grade in the Craft Guild of Chefs' Graduate Awards
Eight young chefs have joined the Craft Guild of Chefs' Hall of Fame after passing the Graduate Awards and first Pastry Graduate Awards final exams last month.
The chefs, all under the age of 23, discovered they made the grade at an awards ceremony held at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane hotel earlier this evening (6 September).
A total of five chefs passed the Kitchen Graduate Award with Amber Francis from the Ritz taking the Highest Achiever prize.
The other chefs who passed the final examination were: Erin Jackson Yates, Wiltons; Eleanor De Maria, Compass House; Andre Rhone, the Bingham and Aaron Middleton, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.
This year, the Craft Guild of Chefs introduced a pastry examination to the Graduate Awards, in an attempt to reduce the skills shortage in the industry by acknowledging talented pastry chefs.
Kacey Bignell from the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel was awarded the Highest Achiever Award in the inaugural Pastry Graduate exam. Rita Souto from London Hilton on Park Lane and Fiona Bailey from the Dragon also made the grade.
The final was held on 30 August at Westminster Kingsway College in London under the watchful eye of chair of examiners, Russell Bateman and a team of five examiners.
To pass chefs had to achieve a mark of 85% or higher in a series of culinary challenges.
This included a multiple choice paper test, a pork belly butchery task, poaching lobster and then creating lobster Newburg, roasting pork, making classic gateaux fraisier and planning and cooking their own dish using a mystery basket of ingredients.
Steve Munkley, organiser and founder of the Graduate Awards, said: "Congratulations to all the new graduates and our first ever pastry graduates. We threw in a couple of curveballs this year and all the chefs rose to the challenge.
"I'm confident this is down to the help and support they were given throughout the process, including our two mentor days and the ongoing advice from their employers."
Daniel Kent, head chef at Wiltons was awarded the Mentor Award for his support of Erin Jackson Yates.
Speaking after the exam, Bateman, 2014 National Chef of the Year, said: "The standard in the final exam has gone to another level from the heats and it was fantastic to see growth and development in the chefs.
"Whether they achieve the pass mark or not, entering the Graduate Awards is only going to make young chefs stronger. It's great to bring together a group of like-minded chefs who all want to grow and develop their skills. These will be the head chefs of the future, opening their own restaurants or running hotel kitchens.
"Around the world, chefs are going back to basics and focusing on culinary skills and classic dishes and this is something the Graduate Awards has been doing for the last 14 years so I'm very proud to be involved."
Yolande Stanley, chair of pastry examiners, added: "Developing a Pastry Graduate Award is something Steve Munkley and I have been wanting to do for some time so it's fantastic to see this new award off the ground. I was delighted to reveal the first three pastry graduates to enter the Hall of Fame.
"It's important we put pastry chefs in the spotlight and I hope this is the start of something big for the Craft Guild of Chefs and the pastry industry."
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