Alyn Williams, chef patron of his eponymous restaurant at the Westbury hotel in London's Mayfair, has been named the 2012 National Chef of the Year.
The event, run by the Craft Guild of Chefs, is one of the most prestigious culinary competitions in the industry today. Past winners include Gordon Ramsay, Eyck Zimmer, Mark Sargeant and Simon Hulstone.
Williams beat seven other chefs at the final of the annual contest, with Joe McCafferty, from Roka, and Paul Matthews from Hunter S, both in London, coming in second and third place respectively. He won the title after placing second last year.
The eight finalists were asked to cook three courses in two hours after being presented with a mystery basket of ingredients. The judging panel included industry heavyweights Philip Howard, Angela Hartnett, Atul Kochhar, Mark Sargeant, Tom Kerridge, Daniel Clifford and William Curley.
Williams's winning menu consisted of fillets of mackerel, salted cucumber, mussels, parsley, lemon purée, pak choi and turnip; followed by saddle of venison with roasted and smoked beets, fig, salsify, rösti, yogurt and cooking juices. His dessert was caramelised white chocolate panna cotta, orange doughnuts, hazelnut ice-cream.
David Mulcahy, organiser of the competition and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: "Winning this competition can seriously enhance the career prospects of a chef. The skills required to compete and succeed at this level must be of the highest order. I have the upmost respect for those that enter the National Chef of the Year, congratulations to all of this year's finalists and Alyn, our winner for 2012."
Williams' career includes periods at Les Alouettes in Surrey and Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham as well as spending time in the USA in Colorado and California. After working with Marcus Wareing for more than eight years, including four years as his head chef, he opened his own restaurant at the Westbury hotel last autumn.
As the winner of the National Chef of the Year title, Williams has won a number of prizes including £3,500 cash; £1,250 worth of vouchers and a study trip to Norway.
Meanwhile Ben Murphy, chef de partie at Koffmann's in London, was named the Young National Chef of the Year.
He beat seven other finalists, all aged below 23, with Jack Allibone of Simpson's Restaurant in Birmingham, and Lewis Gallagher of Stanley House Hotel in Lancashire placing second and third.
Murphy's wining menu comprised a starter of sous vide duck breast, beetroot, goats cheese and horseradish; followed by a main course of pan fried sea bass with bacon, lemon, yolk and pea; and a dessert of Calvados Savarin, yoghurt, apple tarragon and apple crumble ice cream.
By Kerstin Kühn
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