Royal Academy of Culinary Arts names Annual Awards of Excellence winners

Chef winner
Pastry winner
Service winner
13/07/2018 - 07:00
The hospitality industry came together this week (10 July) to celebrate the outstanding talents of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ 2019 Annual Awards of Excellence (AAE) winners.

With 21 finalists across the kitchen, pastry and service sections, the highest scoring candidate in each was presented the prestigious title at a dinner gala at the Rosewood hotel (London).

  • Young Chef of the year - Connor Farrer, The Ritz (London)
  • Young Pastry Chef of the year - Sophie Bamford, Newcastle
  • Young Waiter of the year - Catarina Caldeira, The Vineyard at Stockcross

The 2018 Young Chef of the Year, Connor Farrer, said: “I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to take part in AAE 2018 - it has played a massive part in my life and I feel extremely proud to be awarded the winner.

“The competition gave me the opportunity to test myself in every possible way and I must thank my mentor, (judge) John Williams, for guiding me through the stages and helping me hone my skills.

“All the hard work paid off the moment my name was called! I would recommend any young professional to do the same, and to put everything they’ve got into it.”

John Williams, judge and chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, added: “I hope that through the AAE we can motivate and inspire the industry’s young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters to undertake a career of training first themselves, and then others; and to look outside the workplace to wider industry and opportunities.”

In order to achieve the award, entrants must attain a score of 70% or above in the tasks set and judged by a panel in including AAE president Brian Turner; AAE 2018 honorary president, Jason Atherton; and chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, John Williams.

Celebrating the other 18 chefs, pastry chefs and waiter finalists on the night, judges reminisced this year’s tasks:

Kitchen: five hours to produce four portions of a starter from a mystery box of ingredients, using crab was the central component; four portions of a classic Alain Ducasse pigeon dish; and their own ‘modern interpretation’ of an gooseberry dessert from the entry task each had previously prepared.

Pastry: to produce 12 allumettes, 16 dipped chocolates with a raspberry ganache centre of their choice; 16 sable tartlets and 16 creative financiers; and a sugar stand with a flower around the summer fairground theme in four hours.

Winner Sophie Bamford commented: “Achieving this award was completely surreal – almost as if I was starring in a real-life film. I genuinely could not believe it.

“The most important thing the AAE has taught me is to trust yourself and have the confidence to try anything and everything, no matter how crazy or insane your ideas sound.

“However, it is just as important to accept failure, especially during practices and run-throughs, and to be physically and mentally prepared to lift yourself up after countless unsuccessful attempts.

“I was extremely privileged to have executive pastry chef Helen Doyle provide me with the guidance, support and encouragement to challenge myself.”

Service task: decant and describe wine to the judging panel; and set up and serve a three-course meal with wines to a table of two guest judges.

Caldeira, Young Waiter of the Year 2018 said: “Taking part in the Annual Awards of Excellence was a fantastic experience. It gave me the opportunity to meet likeminded hospitality professionals and present my skills on a national stage.

“In hospitality, it can be difficult to communicate your skills. Achieving the AAE provides a stamp of approval for any potential future employers. I was in disbelief when I heard that I had won Young Waiter of the Year.

“The standard of the other competitors was incredibly high and I was delighted to achieve the award, let alone win the competition. I would encourage anyone looking to further their career in hospitality to take part. It is an immensely rewarding competition.”

Copyright 2017 Craft Guild of Chefs

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