Five young chefs were recognised at the 10th Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards at a lunch held at London's Royal Garden Hotel yesterday.
The five chefs, from a shortlist of 12 finalists, secured the award after achieving a pass mark of 85%.
An award for the highest achiever was given to James Goodyear from Raymond Blanc's two-Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, who scored an unprecedented 89% overall.
This year's other Craft Guild graduates are: Rebecca Reeves from the House of Commons, Ben Champkin from the Michelin-starred Elephant Restaurant in Torquay, Kristian Curtis from Michelin-starred Simpsons Restaurant in Birmingham, and Brian James from the Bluebells Restaurant and Bar in Sunningdale.
An Employer's Trophy for excellence was given to Nick Sinclair from the Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge, Surrey.
The Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards scheme was launched in 2003 with the aim of creating formal recognition of a young working chef's culinary excellence. It tests the knowledge and skills of chefs aged 23 or under in a series of culinary examinations.
Steve Munkley, vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the awards, said the standard at this year's final cooking exam was exceptionally good across the board, but some skills demonstrated were particularly impressive.
"The fishmongery, for which we supplied each candidate with a 2kg sea bass and a mystery basket to create a main course for four, was excellent this year, with two of the candidates awarded full marks - something we've never seen before in a skills test," he said.
"Overall, each finalist was enthusiastic and focused, with 100 percent concentration, and I'd say that the ones who didn't pass will be back as they weren't very far off the mark at all. It was a learning curve and they just need to hone a couple of skills, helped by a feedback report from the panel."
By Kerstin Kühn
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