Sponsored by Craft Guild of Chefs
Chris King's route into the world of hospitality was far from conventional. After growing up in Spain, Portugal, Argentina and England, the Connecticut-born teenager spent his summers working in restaurants in Cómpeta in southern Spain, where he developed an appreciation for market-fresh ingredients.
In 2004, having graduated with a first-class degree in English, King took the remarkable step of applying for a commis chef role at Le Gavroche. Over the following four years, he worked his way up to the position of sous chef, and in 2008 was given the opportunity to work in New York at Thomas Keller's Per Se, no less, where he stayed for the next two years.
He then returned to London and Le Gavroche until the opening of Roux at Parliament Square in 2010. There he was appointed sous chef, but later that year, when asked to help with the launch of Roux at the Landau at the Langham, London - the first collaboration between Roux Jr and his father, Albert, for 19 years - King was given his big break and made head chef.
In 2015, Roux Jr and Albert announced plans to take over the running of the entire food and beverage operation at the five-AA-star, 380-bedroom hotel, and King was unveiled as executive chef. His responsibilities are far-reaching and stretch across 14 banqueting and private dining rooms, which include the 220-seat ballroom, the Palm Court, the Artesian bar, Langham Club and room service. He also oversees the newly opened modern British tavern, the Wigmore, on Regent Street.
King is credited with thinking tactically and creatively to enhance the offering within the hotel's restaurants. For example, he has introduced a grand café-style menu in the Palm Court restaurant - previously known chiefly for its afternoon teas - as well as creating a tapas-style menu for the Artesian bar.
But overall, it is for the quality of his cooking, the use of great seasonal products and the clever combination of traditional French techniques and modern influences - blended with his outstanding team management - that leads Roux Jr to describe King as an "exceptionally talented and driven chef and a really good guy". It's also why, earlier this year, he was voted Manager of the Year at the Langham, London, by his peers.
What the judges said
"I recently visited the Langham, London, and was extremely impressed with the whole operation back of house and how diverse it is. Chris oversees multiple outlets, from the stunning Wigmore pub to the refined offering in Roux at the Landau. He runs a very professional operation and is a worthy winner." Simon Young
"Chris's passion, inspiration and creativity shows he owns it at the Langham. He shines and is very well respected in the trade." James Murphy
"Having gone from overseeing one restaurant to taking on the whole operation at the Langham, London, Chris has shown that he can achieve high standards over several outlets." Phil Carmichael
Paul Bates, Hilton London Bankside
Calum Franklin, Holborn Dining Room, Rosewood London
Chris King, The Langham, London
Anthony Roy, Sofitel London Heathrow
Shaun Whatling, The Berkeley, London
2016 Chris Wheeler, Stoke Park
2015 Lewis Hamblet, South Lodge
2014 James Murphy, Grand Central Hotel
2013 Ryan Neill, Cameron House
2012 Nigel Boschetti, Grosvenor House
2011 Martyn Nail, Claridge's
2010 Steve Munkley, Royal Garden Hotel
2009 Simon Young, Jumeirah Carlton Tower
2008 Anthony Marshall, London Hilton on Park Lane
2007 Henry Brosi, The Dorchester