2018 Graduate Awards

Class of 2018
The Craft Guild of Chefs celebrates class of 2018, with six young chefs this year joining the Graduate Awards hall of fame.

Following an intense five hours in the kitchens of University College Birmingham (21 August), the Craft Guild of Chefs revealed the six young chefs who passed its 2018 Graduate Awards.

Regarded as one of the hardest skills tests in the industry, a total 14 chefs undertook the final kitchen or pastry exams - after completing an online entry form and regional heats.

To join the Graduate Awards hall of fame, the chefs (aged 23 or under) had to achieve a pass mark of 85%.

This year’s kitchen grads are:

  • Ben Cowley, Simpsons Restaurant
  • Jordon Powell, The Half Moon
  • Bronwen Jenkins, Royal Garden Hotel

Meanwhile in the pastry test, successful chefs include:

  • Ieuan Davies, Pennyhill Park Hotel
  • Emma-Jayne Lawson, Northcote Manor
  • Sofia Petrova, Ham Yard Hotel

Special recognition goes to the highest achiever of each category, which the judging panel unanimously awarded to Ben Cowley for the kitchen and Ieuan Davies for the pastry test.

Not only did 2018 see us receive one of the highest number of entries, but the Guild also held two very special mentoring experiences.

For the kitchen Graduates, this involved two days in Somerset staying at the stunning North Cadbury Court and visiting a variety of farms and cheesemakers.

Chefs were able to watch butchery, fish and dessert masterclasses to help them prepare for the final exam.

The Kitchen Mentor Award was this year presented to Peter Fiori, executive chef at Coutts Bank, for the input he provided kitchen finalist, Isabel Wallace-Hadrill throughout.

Nick Kimber from Ham Yard Hotel was awarded the Pastry Mentor Award for the advice and support he showed Pastry Graduate Award achiever, Sofia Petrova.

Chefs can register their interest for the 2019 Graduate Awards by emailing enquiries@craftguildofchefs.org or by tweeting @Craft_Guild.

What are the Graduate Awards?

The Graduate Awards were founded in 2002 by Vice-President, Steve Munkley, who saw a real need in the industry for providing formal recognition of young chefs’ culinary excellence.

We have created a Kitchen and Pastry Graduate examination, for chefs aged 23 and under, to test and improve the skills which chefs have learnt at college and in their early careers, and take them to the next level.

The entry process includes completing the online or paper entry form, live heats and then the final examination. Chefs will learn and develop at each stage of the awards. The kitchen examinations includes a theory paper, butchery and fishmongery tasks as well as creating a ‘mystery basket’ dish, classic main course and a dessert that will really impress the panel of culinary experts.

Receiving the Graduate Award has proved career changing with previous graduates going on to gain Michelin stars, work in some of the world’s top restaurants, be part of the World Skills team and even win the Young National Chef of the Year title.

Former Young National Chef of the Year winner, Ruth Hansom, said: “The Graduate Awards is about improving and testing out basic culinary skills and so I would encourage every young chef to enter. You never know what’s going to come up in the exam. For example, we had rabbit on ours which isn’t something I would normally prepare as part of my day job but this exam forced me to try something different.”

It is the 16th year of the Graduate Awards examination and with so much talk about lack of skills and chef shortages, it provides the perfect opportunity to improve young chefs’ skills and showcase the culinary talent the UK has to offer.

You can join in the conversation about the Graduate Awards and engage with other young chefs by tweeting @Craft_Guild, using the hashtag #CGCGradAwards. 

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