Corporate services executive chef Lloyd Walker has been crowned the winner of the Sodexo Chef of the Year 2016 competition, which took place at Hotelympia on 1 March.
Walker (pictured above left with his commis chef Ronnel Nulud) won gold following a 90-minute cook-off against nine other finalists from across Sodexo's business.
As part of his prize, he will work alongside competition judge Raymond Blanc and his team at the new Jardin Blanc Hospitality Village and Queen Elizabeth II Suite at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May.
National Chef of the Year 2014 Russell Bateman and Michelin-starred Alyn Williams were also among the 12-strong judging line-up.
Runner up Andrew Clarkson from Sodexo Defence (silver) and third-placed Ross Clarke from Sodexo Sports & Leisure (also silver) will join Walker on a gastronomic tour of Palma, Majorca, as part of the prize.
Walker and Nulud prepared a starter of pan-fried fresh hake with fennel, compressed cucumber, samphire, burnt lemon and carrot-olive purée. It was followed by a main of roast guinea fowl with stuffing of pine nuts and marjoram served with spring onion-chive risotto, pickled shallot, nasturtium and burnt butter jus. For dessert they served a chocolate tart with hazelnut brittle, vanilla ice-cream and praline powder.
Based at the Sodexo Corporate Services contract at Unilever House in London, Walker is responsible for a team of nine chefs. The team provides 100 covers a day in corporate and executive dining, as well as 500 covers a day in the staff restaurant.
Walker said: "It's a great feeling to win. In the competition I just tried to keep it simple and get the flavour right. That was the advice I got from Alyn Williams at the mentor day and it really paid off. It was great to meet Raymond too."
David Mulcahy, craft development director for Sodexo, and the competition organiser, added: "This year we had our best ever judging line up for Sodexo Chef of the Year and the finalists responded with some fantastic dishes. Lloyd's got great culinary talent and prepared some amazing food; his gold medal best in class was very well earned."
The Sodexo team also won best in class (silver) in La Parade des Chefs food sector challenge on the same day.
Sodexo Chef of the Year final - results
1st place (Gold) Lloyd Walker, Unilever, Corporate Services
2nd place (Silver) Andy Clarkson, Aliwal Barracks, Defence
3rd place (Silver) Ross Clark, CPU South Queensferry, Sports & Leisure
Bronze Adam Collison, AstraZeneca, Corporate Services
Bronze Daniel Trace, Schools
Bronze David Fountain, PayPal Europe Services, Ireland, Corporate Services
Merit Phillip Thomas, Henderson Global Investors, Corporate Services
Merit David Hussey, Eton College, Schools
Merit Tom Bill, Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital, Healthcare
Merit Hrvoje Loncarevic, American Express Community Stadium, Sports & Leisure