The finalists of the Young Chef Young Waiter of the Year competition have been announced for the UK and China/south-east Asia.
The competition, in association with UKHospitality and the Restaurant Association, has recognised 16 finalists from the UK – three of which return from last year's competition – and nine from China and south-east Asia.
Now in its 41st year, the competition was relaunched by the Nth Degree Global last year to honour the best chefs and waiters and promote hospitality as a vocation for young people.
The finalists submitted a video entry and questionnaire, which was assessed by a panel of judges including head chef judge Theo Randall and head waiter judge Simon King, along with Jason Atherton, Tom Kerridge, Claude Bosi, Emily Roux and a number of other high-profile names in the industry.
Judges for the China/south-east Asia competition included Ken Hom, Andrew Wong of Michelin-starred A Wong in London, Tony Truong of Mei Ume at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, Wee Boon Goh at Imperial Treasure, London, and Chong Choi Fong of China Tang at the Dorchester, London.
Finalists for Best Young Chef of the Year 2020 – UK:
- Lewis Glaister, Scott's, London (pictured, left)
- Ali Halbert, the View at Hencote, Shrewsbury
- Alexandra Henderson, the Lansdowne Club, London (pictured, centre)
- Peter Meechan, Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Perthshire
- Masudi Nestor Pene, Claude Bosi at Bibendum, London
- Freya Popham, Restaurant Associates, Societe Generale, London
- Valère Ruiz, 14 Hills, London
- Liam Smith, Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Perthshire
Finalists for Best Young Waiter of the Year 2020 – UK:
- Ruhit Abdul, Hide, London
- Remy Baben, Wild Honey St James, London
- Cristina Daniela, Gaucho
- Florian David, the Waterside Inn, Bray, Berkshire
- Hellie Honney, Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Perthshire
- Martin McRae, Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Perthshire
- George Smart, Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire
- Declan Wilkins, the Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire (pictured, right)
Finalists for Best Young Chef of the Year 2020 – China/south-east Asia:
- Qing lee Chen, Imperial Treasure, London
- Kevin Hoang, Lu Ban, Liverpool
- Maurine Lordios, Kai Mayfair, London
- Tibor Palasti, the Sushi Bar Harrods, London
Finalists for Best Young Waiter of the Year 2020 – China/south-east Asia:
- Sabrina Aquilina, Ting Restaurant & Lounge, Shangri-La hotel at the Shard London
- Marie Bouquet, Shangri-La hotel at the Shard London
- Iris Buchner, A Wong, London
- Julien Peigneux, Ting Restaurant & Lounge, Shangri-La hotel at the Shard London
- Simone Rizzo, Ting Restaurant & Lounge, Shangri-La hotel at the Shard London
"As we reach the end of 2020, we are optimistic for 2021. This has been a turbulent year for hospitality yet it has been heartening to see the support and ingenuity from everyone in the industry," commented head chef judge, Theo Randall.
"Young Chef Young Waiter harnesses the talents of young professionals and the competition offers them a platform for the future. We are grateful to all our sponsors and partners for their continued support and we will look forward to the final."
Chairwoman of Young Chef Young Waiter China/south-east Asia, Ching-He Huang, added: "The aim of this competition is to support the next generation of talent to recognise and award those who continue to give their all, as well as attracting promising young talent to work in our special industry."
Supporting the Springboard Charity's FutureChef and the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Adopt a School, the event is backed by a number of brands, including: Mercedes-Benz Retail Group, Arla Pro UK, Alpha Rewards, TheFork, Tatler, Paymentsense, KuulEats 'For the Independents', Firetree Chocolate, Cayman Islands, Wine&Something, DIGICOOL, The Mussel Man, Champagne Frerejean Frères, Caviar House & Prunier, HG Walter, Steelite, Lynn Mackie Bespoke Uniforms and YesChef.