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Foodservice Cateys 2016: Chef of the Year – Public Site

20 October 2016
Foodservice Cateys 2016: Chef of the Year – Public Site

Sponsored by Johnsons Stalbridge

Paul Walsh, City Social (Restaurant Associates)

Critical to its success has been its executive chef Paul Walsh who, with his flawless cooking, has delivered award after award for the Russell Sage Studios-designed, 90-seat restaurant. With a Michelin star, three AA rosettes and BMW Square Meal Award for Best New Restaurant autumn 2014 under his belt, Walsh now has a Foodservice Catey to add to his trophy cabinet.

Walsh's career has been an impressive one. His formative years were spent working for Anton Edelmann at the Savoy and Marcus Wareing at the Savoy Grill, before he moved to Royal Hospital Road to work with Simone Zanoni and then Clare Smyth. Three years with Agnar Sverrisson followed, where he was involved in launching all three 28°-50° Wine Workshop and Kitchens before joining Atherton's Social group of restaurants in 2013.

The Hampshire-born chef celebrates the best of British ingredients, with typical menu options including Brixham crab, Orkney scallops, Newlyn line-caught halibut and Romney Marsh lamb. Dubbed a "technical masterclass" by Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner, the main course of Lincolnshire rabbit saddle and sausage, Pommery mustard mash, trompettes and garlic illustrates Walsh's keen eye for reducing wastage and his respect for produce with his use of rabbit saddle (bound together and wrapped in ham to form a cylinder), rabbit sausage and a side dish of braised rabbit.

Speaking to The Caterer, Walsh said: "It's just been bred into me over the years: we try to use everything. We don't write dishes in order not to throw away elements, but when you see the lengths suppliers go to source your ingredients - the waves faced by our fishermen to get their catch - I just want to show our produce some respect."

It's an approach clearly appreciated by the AA, which comments in its guide: "Walsh extracts maximum flavour from humble ingredients and the well-presented, globally-influenced dishes have roots firmly planted in the classics."

Heading up a brigade of 32 chefs, Walsh runs a business open five days a week for lunch, and six days a week for dinner, serving up to 120 covers during the day and as many as 160 in the evening. And if that doesn't keep him busy enough, he still finds time to maintain close ties with Westminster Kingsway College to offer experience in City Social for upcoming talent, while also spending his personal time mentoring and judging younger chefs as they grow and take their examinations.

What the judges said

"Since its inception in May 2014, City Social has hit the ground - not just running but sprinting - with Walsh at the helm leading the way."

Hayden Groves, BaxterStorey

"What has been achieved here in less than two years is incredible. The quality of the offering, coupled with the significant financials, prove that Paul and his team have achieved something special."

John Nugent, Green & Fortune

"A candidate of class, operating at a high level with some of the industry greats, and holding his own."

Toby Stuart, Boutique Cuisine

Shortlisted

  • Gemma Amor Ascot (Sodexo)
  • Steve Groves Roux at Parliament Square (Restaurant Associates)
  • Paul Walsh City Social (Restaurant Associates)

Past winners

(The Chef of the Year award was split into two categories this year to reflect advancement of private and public sites)

  • 2015 Hayden Groves BaxterStorey
  • 2014 Nick Vadis Compass Group
  • 2013 Rob Kirby Lexington Catering

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