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7th October 2020

Twelve chefs heading to Graduate Awards 2020 final

Written by: Edward Waddell
Despite the challenges caused by the Coronavirus pandemic to the hospitality industry, the Graduate Awards 2020 has continued to develop young culinary talent in the UK.

The kitchen heat recently took place at the Royal Garden Hotel in London with the pastry heat being completed at Lakefield Hospitality College.

Steve Munkley, vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: “Young chefs were looking for activities to remain focused and engaged during lockdown and the preparation for this exam gave them a real drive to keep going.

“We sent out the criteria back in June and support was offered to chefs to help them practise these skills. The hard work paid off for the chefs and they must celebrate this achievement. Seeing the semi-finals run so smoothly made all the effort ensuring that these awards could go ahead so worthwhile.”

The chefs taking part in the Kitchen final exam are:

  • Emma Louise Ryder, demi chef, RAF Club
  • Faye Natalie De Souza, junior sous chef, Restaurant Associates
  • Lorenzo di Stefano, chef de partie, The French House
  • Robert McCreey Breen, chef de partie, The Royal Household
  • Ben Dullea, apprentice chef
  • Connor Anthony Bird, chef de partie, House of Commons
  • Stephen Mark Naylor, senior chef de partie, Restaurant Story
  • Jonathon Smith, demi chef de partie, Roux at Parliament Square

Making the grade and completing the Pastry final exam are:

  • Katherine Altham, pastry chef, Roundthorn Country House
  • Lillian Savage, demi chef de partie, The Royal Household
  • Ranna Ameer, demi chef de partie, St James Hotel and Club
  • Tiziana Russo, pastry chef, Aviator by Tag

The Graduate Awards were founded in 2002 and are aimed at chefs who have completed their basic culinary qualifications who want to push their skills further. For 2020, the Graduate Awards age range was extended to 25-years-old.

During the semi-finals chefs had to complete practical challenges and a short multiple-choice paper.

Russell Bateman, chair of examiners for the Kitchen Graduate Award, commented: “The semi-finals gave these chefs the opportunity to show us how they had been developing their skills during lockdown.

“The standard of cooking was high, and we are delighted to have eight talented chefs going forward to the final exam. With hospitality facing its toughest time, to see these young chefs with so much energy and determination to succeed was really inspiring for all the judges.”

Over the coming months, the finalists will be given the opportunity to get involved in a virtual mentor experience. This will help them prepare for the final exam, which is regarded as one of the most challenging events for young chefs. To achieve the Graduate Award, chefs must achieve the pass mark of 85%.

Will Torrent, chair of pastry examiners, added: “In the semi-finals, the chefs had to create a number of pastry dishes which included a Tarte Tatin, Palmiers, Gateaux St. Honoré and Travel Cakes. The chefs were also assessed on their work processes including health and safety and wastage.

“Each chef was asked to present a portfolio of their work including recipes and reasoning for their choices of flavours and textures. I am delighted to be taking four chefs through to the final exam as every year you see how much each person has grown throughout this process. Ultimately, that’s what this event is all about.”

You can follow all the Graduate Awards action on social media using the hashtag #CGCGradAwards.