This year's Young Chef Young Waiter competition, which recognises the industry's brightest stars of the future, was dominated by women. Kerstin Kühn reports
The future is female - this was the mantra of this year's Young Chef Young Waiter competition, where women dominated the top ranks.
Now in its 25th year, Young Chef Young Waiter rewards the best chef and waiter aged 25 or under. Organised by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and Restaurant Association in partnership with HSBC, the Savoy Educational Trust and Sodexo, it was run in association with Von Essen Hotels.
Chef Rose Greene from the two-Michelin-starred Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham and waitress Sarah Cooper from London's Michelin-starred Ledbury were crowned the winners of the contest at an awards ceremony held at London's Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel last week. They beat seven chefs and seven waiters to their respective titles after a cook-and-serve final at London's WestminsterKingsway College. It is the first time that women have won both titles.
In second place were chef Jenny Thoden from the Church Green Restaurant in Lymm, Cheshire, and waiter Peter Saunders from Northcote in Blackburn, while third place went to chef Shaun Dickens from L'Ortolan in Reading, and waitress Julie Doig of Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's in London.
During the final, the chefs were presented with a mystery basket of ingredients including breast of lamb on the bone, lamb tongue, lamb sweetbreads, red mullet, squid and chorizo. They were judged on their choice of menu, their cooking skills and timing, while waiters were judged on their skill in serving the meal, their customer contact skills and the professionalism of their wine service.
The chef judges included Bruce Poole of Chez Bruce, who chaired the panel; David Everitt-Matthias (Le Champignon Sauvage), Angela Hartnett (Murano), David Mulcahy (Sodexo) and Shane Osborn (Pied à Terre).
Stephen Mannock, programme director at the National Skills Academy for Hospitality, chaired the waiter judges, who also included Simon King (Skylon), Jean-Claude Breton (Restaurant Gordon Ramsay), Beppo Buchanan-Smith (Isle of Eriska hotel) and Rhuaridh Buchanan (Paxton & Whitfield).
Greene and Cooper won a selection of prizes including £2,000 each, courtesy of the Savoy Educational Trust, plus a three-day culinary course sponsored by S Pellegrino at the University of Alma in Parma. They also received £1,000 each from restaurant critic Michael Winner, who was a guest of Von Essen Hotels.
Each of the runners-up won £1,000 plus a two-night break at Von Essen's Lewtrenchard Manor in Devon, while those in third place were given £500 and a day's experience with contract caterer Sodexo.
A BRIGHT FUTURE
Chairman of the Restaurant Association, Bob Walton, said standards were higher than ever.
"All these competitors had an extraordinary talent and we should be proud of them," he said. "Young Chef Young Waiter continues to highlight the skills and professionalism of the youngsters making a career in the industry. They represent a very bright future."
Andrew Davies, chairman and founder of Von Essen Hotels, added: "Having witnessed the excellent standard of candidates, we have no doubt that this competition really does reward and encourage the stars of the future, both in the kitchen and front of house."
To see video highlights from the competition, go to www.caterersearch.com/ycyw09