Alex Hucker of the Four Seasons in Hampshire, and Loic Avril of the Fat Duck have been named the winners in this year's Chaîne des Rôtisseurs' Young Professionals of the Year awards.
At an awards ceremony held at the Dorchester hotel last week (22 March) Hucker picked up the Young Chef of the Year award, with Avril winning Young Sommelier of the Year.
Now in its 35th year, the competition is open to all chefs under the age of 27 who are currently working in Chaîne des Rôtisseurs affiliated establishments across Great Britain.
Ten finalists compete in each category. For Hucker this involved creating a three-course menu for four people out of a mystery box of ingredients in three hours. Each menu was judged on presentation, originality and taste.
Greig Young of the Vineyard, Stockcross placed second, with third place going to Michael Cruikshank. of Ashdown Park.
Chairman of judges Daniel Galmiche, executive chef at the Vineyard at Stockcross, praised the strong level of skill and passion across this year's contestants. "The menus embraced thought and creativity, and contestants worked hard on their presentation techniques," he said.
Meanwhile, Avril beat Bouger Romain of the Vineyard at Stockcross, and Lukasz Jan Kolodziejczyk from the Fat Duck to take the Young Sommelier title. Each finalist was judged on their theory, service and accuracy of blind tasting, with Avril impressing judges with his all-round knowledge and ability.
Chairman of judges, Gerard Basset, owner of Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest, said: "The quality of the contestants never ceases to impress the judges and this year was no exception. Each of the contestants demonstrated great passion for their craft and flair and we have high hopes for Avril in the International Finals later this year."
Young Chef Awards: left to right: Michael Cruikshank of Ashdown Park (Third place), Alex Hucker of Four Seasons, (Winner) and Greig Young from The Vineyard at Stockcross (second place)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
Young Sommelier - left to right: Left Bouger Romain of The Vineyard at Stockcross (second place), Loic Avril of the Fat Duck (Winner), Lukasz Jan Kolodziejycyk of Fat Duck