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With such an impressive career under his belt, it's no surprise that Steve Groves, the victor of MasterChef: The Professionals 2009, should one day win a Foodservice Catey.
An Essex boy, Groves took a course in professional craft catering at the Colchester Institute. His career has included positions at the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond in Maryland in the US and at the then Michelin-starred Launceston Place in London's South Kensington.
He has also cooked on some impressive stages in London - Le Gavroche, Buckingham Palace, the Ledbury, the Greenhouse - and further afield at Noma in Copenhagen.
In 2010, he joined the Roux at Parliament Square kitchen team as sous chef, and assumed the role of head chef in January 2013. His time with Roux has clearly been something of a finishing school for a classically trained chef. And while the name over the door is that of the most revered culinary dynasty in the UK, Groves works hard to make the menu very much his own, albeit with Roux's blessing. Critically, it appears to hit the spot. Back in 2014 a Jay Rayner review described a starter of ravioli of crab as "enlightened classicism, a clear display of gastronomic literacy. The kitchen has read old recipes and knows how to turn them to the light."
And Groves isn't just a hit in the kitchen. He has been instrumental in getting a nine-year extension to Restaurant Associates' contract at the Roux at Parliament Square and RICS venues. Without his continued drive and passion around food and delivery, that contract extension would almost certainly have not been possible. The restaurant has clearly improved year on year - moving up from number 61 in TripAdvisor's rankings of 18,281 restaurants in London to number 49. It is also consistently awarded an average of four-and-a-half out of five by the site's reviewers.
In a market where food inflation has tested every catering business, Groves has demonstrated a clear ability to keep his costs under control by delivering a GP over and above 70%, thereby ensuring the commerciality of the model. A strong mentor and leader, Groves is a keen supporter of young chefs, offering work experience to Westminster Kingsway students, and coaching chefs within the broader Restaurant Associates stable.
What the judges said
"Steve must be recognised for his commitment to retaining the business. He has been instrumental in extending the contract and driving standards. A star must be on its way."
Simon Esner, BaxterStorey
"Steve is a strong candidate and great chef who delivers on all aspects of the job, cooking good food being the most important."
Paul Walsh, City Social, London
"A proper chef who knows his craft."
Al Crisci, the Clink
"A great nominee and standout chef."
Allan Pickett, the Swan at the Globe, London
Darren Archer H+J
Karl Buckthought Green & Fortune at Kings Place
Steve Groves Roux at Parliament Square (Restaurant Associates)
The Chef of the Year Award was split into two categories in 2016 to reflect the
advance of private and public sites
2016 Paul WalshC ity Social (Restaurant Associates)
2015 Hayden Groves BaxterStorey
2014 Nick Vadis Compass Group
2013 Rob Kirby Lexington Catering