Meet the Young National Chef of the Year 2018 finalists

The  Staff Canteen

With the Young National Chef of the Year 2018 live final taking part on Tuesday, October 3 at the Restaurant Show we wanted to take a closer look at this year's contenders.

Heat winners Danny Young of Northcote Manor and Henry Wadsworth from Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons will join the five highest scoring chefs from the heat rounds at Le Cordon Bleu in London and Sheffield College. This includes Arthur Bridgeman-Quin from The Punchbowl, Daniela Tucci of The Art School Restaurant, Thomas Reeves from L’Enclume, Alex Walker from 21 Hospitality Group and Jacob Gosselin from Highlands Academy of Culinary Arts.

Two other chefs who won other culinary competitions will join the other finalists including Amber Francis, commis chef at The Ritz, who was the highest achiever in the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Graduate Awards and Frances Attwood from Simpsons Restaurant who won the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year.

Samuel King also of The Ritz took the tenth and final spot after winning the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence back in July.  

Danny Young
Danny Young

Name: Danny Young

Age: 23

Place of work: Northcote Manor

Position: sous chef

Bio: Danny is sous chef at Northcote Manor. His first experience in fine dining came after he left school when he secured a job working in a Michelin starred kitchen. Danny has come in second place in the Young National Chef of the Year competition for the last two years and was North West Young Chef of the Year in 2014.

Why did you want to take part in Young National Chef of the Year after being a contestant last year?

Last year I came in third place so I’m nearly there but not quite yet and it’s part of my nature to keep trying so if doesn’t happen this time I’ll try again and if it doesn’t happen next time I’ll try again. If you give up on something you’re never going to make it so the opportunity came up to do it again and I thought ‘why not’.

What would winning mean to you?

It would mean a lot to me this year especially as seven years ago I was still at school thinking one day I’ll be competing in competitions to win YNCOTY. To win this year would be a great achievement in my life.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’d probably look to move in the next five years, whether it’s my own kitchen or someone else’s because you’ll be top of the game then. I’m sous chef now so I’m not that far away and I’m learning as much as possible along the way and I would want to be somewhere where I can still learn as much as I can.

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Henry Wadsworth
Henry Wadsworth

Name: Henry Wadsworth

Age: 22

Place of work: Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons

Position: chef de partie

Bio: Henry worked at Mark Hix for 2 years before moving onto Le Manoir where he has been for the past 3 years. He’s always enjoyed working in kitchens, and even had a kitchen porter job at the age of 14.

Why did you want to take part in Young National Chef of the Year?

I won a place in the final by winning the annual awards of excellence this year. I just wanted to challenge myself and learn new skills. It’s also been great to meet other chefs and hear about the restaurants they work in.

Is this your last year or would you do it again?

I hope this will be my last year!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I would like to be working somewhere abroad learning a completely different style of cooking

What would winning mean to you?

Doing these competitions is a massive commitment and takes up a lot of time so it would be very satisfying knowing all the hard work has paid off. I would be very proud to be up there with the previous winners.

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Arthur Bridgeman Quin
Arthur Bridgeman Quin

Name: Arthur Bridgeman-Quin

Age: 21

Place of work: The Punchbowl

Position: cook

Bio: Arthur Bridgeman-Quin is a cook at The Punch Bowl. Arthur first discovered his passion for cooking and food whilst he was at school. It was during this time that he got himself some work experience before landing his first job shortly after graduating. Arthur has competed in many local competitions and this is his second attempt at winning the title of Young National Chef of the Year.

Why did you want to take part in Young National Chef of the Year, after being a contestant last year?

I wanted to take part this year so I could test myself and learn new things.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In 5 years I see myself still cooking, learning new techniques and about new ingredients. I also want to meet new chefs who can teach and inspire me. 

What would winning mean to you?

I haven't really thought about winning!

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Daniela Tucci
Daniela Tucci

Name: Daniela Tucci

Age: 20

Place of work: The Art School

Position: chef de partie, pastry chef

Bio: Daniela started as an apprentice at The Art School Restaurant whilst studying at The City of Liverpool College, and worked her way up. Entering her first competition in 2016 and becoming the first female to be awarded North West Young Chef. This then ensured her a place at the Young National Chef of the Year finals.

Why did you want to take part in Young National Chef of the Year, after being a contestant last year?

I wanted to take part in the competition this year as I wanted to challenge myself on more time. I want to really push myself this year and do better than last year. This competition I believe also helps further a young chef’s career a lot and it’s a great opportunity to see what’s going on in the industry.

Is this your last year or would you do it again?

I would say this is my last year of the competition.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I still see myself being a pastry chef, but maybe in a different country and really exploring the different skills in the pastry section, as well as learning from the best chefs.

What would winning mean to you?

Winning would really mean a lot to me, as I said before this competition really does create opportunities for the future and winning the competition will allow young chefs to explore the culinary world further.

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Tom Reeves
Tom Reeves

Name: Thomas Reeves

Age: 22

Place of work: L’Enclume

Position: chef de partie

Bio: Tom’s career started when he was just a teenager working part time at his local golf club. His big break came working at Wynyard Hall where he remained for 18 months. From here the chef moved to Peace and Loaf in Jesmond before securing his current role as chef de partie at Simon Rogan’s L’enclume.

Why did you want to become a chef?

I've always enjoyed cooking and eating food. It's one of my favourite things to do, cooking food for family and friends.

Why did you want to take part in YNCOTY?

I wanted to learn and challenge myself by putting myself in uncomfortable situations. Also by doing competitions you see things you necessarily wouldn't see at your work place.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully working in a 3 Michelin star restaurant somewhere.

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Alex Walker
Alex Walker

Name: Alex Walker

Age: 24

Place of work: 21 Hospitality Group

Position: chef de partie

Bio: Growing up in Gateshead, Alex started working in the kitchen as a KP for a small Italian restaurant where his mum work as the manager. After leaving school, Alex chose to go to college to further his knowledge and training in the culinary world, it was here that his passion for cooking really began to develop. Alex is now chef de partie at Terry Laybourne’s 21 Hospitality Group.  

Why did you want to become a chef?

I've always had a connection with food, from going to the restaurant at a young age and seeing how the chefs worked and tasting their work to doing little jobs at home helping my mum. I always wanted to do something I enjoyed after school and I love cooking.

Why did you want to take part in YNCOTY?

As a chef, the more experiences and learning you do, the more you progress and benefit. It would be a great accolade to achieve. YNCOTY is great for meeting new people your age and skill level, as well as meeting some of the chefs you really look up to in the industry.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years’ time I would like to say I've progressed in my career in both position and knowledge. I would like to do some stages to see how different kitchens work and attain an understanding of more cooking styles and techniques.

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Amber Francis
Amber Francis

Name: Amber Francis

Age: 21

Place of work: The Ritz

Position: commis chef

Bio: Amber Francis is a commis chef at the Michelin starred, The Ritz. Food was always a big part of family life for Amber growing up and helped shape the young chef’s career path. Having spent time in Michelin starred kitchens such as Le Manoir and The Hand and Flowers on work experience, Amber took on an apprenticeship at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts where she was placed at the Ritz.

Why did you want to become a chef?

I've always wanted to be a chef, I can't give an exact reason but it just gives me joy to cook for others and share my passion of good food enjoyed amongst good company. Food was a big part of family life growing up, some of my earliest memories are of eating tapas or cracking open lobster claws for the first time. I guess this has influenced my career and who I am today. I grew up in Bristol and completed work experience placements at Le Manoir and The Hand and Flowers whilst studying for my A levels before starting my apprenticeship with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. I was fortunate enough to be placed at The Ritz for this training and have been lucky enough to work with a team of very talented chefs during an exciting time for the hotel, receiving our first Michelin star last year.

Why did you want to take part in YNCOTY?

I wanted to take part in YNCOTY after having achieved the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards. I learnt so much during that experience and my skills really developed, I want to continue that and constantly challenge myself to become the best chef that I possibly can.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Having just finished my apprenticeship I will continue to work at The Ritz past graduation, I have much more to learn here. As for the long term future, well, who knows?! But I'm excited to see where life and my career takes me!

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Frances Attwood
Frances Attwood

Name: Frances Attwood

Age: 22

Place of work: Simpsons Restaurant

Position: demi chef de partie

Bio: Originally from Derby, but currently loving and working in Birmingham. Realised she was interested in catering and loves cooking for people whilst studying for a science degree at university. She then decided to leave and did a cooking apprenticeship.

Why did you want to take part in Young National Chef of the Year?

I was one of the contestants who got selected straight through to the final, it was such an amazing opportunity there’s no way I could turn it down!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’m planning on travelling the world with my job and learning different cuisines first hand.

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Samuel King
Samuel King

Name: Samuel King

Age: 21

Place of work: The Ritz

Position: demi chef de partie

Bio: Samuel's earliest memories were helping his mother and grandmother cook. Seeing how much everyone enjoyed the creations that came from the kitchen Samuel knew he wanted to pursue a career in the culinary world. From there he decided to underatke the Specialised Chefs Scholarship at Bournemouth and Poole College. Samuel is now demi chef de partie at the Michelin starred, The Ritz.

Why did you want to take part in Young National Chef of the Year?

The Annual Awards of Excellence was the first time I entered any sort of competition, and after achieving the award and meeting some fantastic people from the industry I developed a bit of a taste for the competition circuit! I felt honoured when I was offered the chance to compete in YNCOTY; I couldn’t say no to the opportunity – fingers crossed for first place this time!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

It’s hard to answer that question, I’m only 21, but I can say that I hope to be cooking great food and to be learning every day, as I am now.

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Jacob Gosselin
Jacob Gosselin

Name: Jacob Gosselin

Age: 17

Place of work: Highlands Academy of Culinary Arts

Position: student

Bio: Jacob is currently studying for the Jersey progression Diploma in Culinary Arts at the Highlands Academy of Culinary Arts. Coming from a family of globetrotters, Jacob has had the opportunity to see many parts of the world and try different types of cuisine. He knew from a young age that he wanted to enter the competitive world of cooking after seeing chefs cook on TV. He also enjoyed helping out at family BBQ's and other gatherings. Earlier this year the young chef won the title of Craft Guild of Chefs Channel Island Chef of the Year 2017.

Why did you want to take part in Young National Chef of the Year?

I was a contestant in the Chanel Island Young National Chef of the Year. I had only been cooking for about 23 weeks and my college decided to put me forward. With their support I was able to compete in the competition. As I won in that category part of the prize was to go to the semi-finals of the nationals and it all came as a bit of a shock because I had only been cooking for about 23 weeks! The college funded for me to compete in the heat at Le Cordon Bleau in London. Everything was kind of stacked against me so I just thought I've got this far and if I get any further than that's great for my career. As I had to leave early I didn't hear the results until 3 days later so I was very surprised to be in the final! It felt so surreal and everyone at Highlands was ecstatic.

What would winning mean to you?

Winning, for me, I just wouldn't be able to explain it. I think I would just be speechless because my parents are coming to watch me cook. It would just be so surreal and would do my career wonders. I'm just going to go in quite level headed, do what I have to do and hopefully something special happens.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would like to see myself as a successful well known chef in Jersey. Maybe move off island and work for some top restaurants in the UK. My ultimate goal would be to open a local seafood restaurant, that would be my aspiration. Living in Jersey you're surrounded by fresh fish and sea and I think it would be brilliant to have locally sourced, sustainable, fresh produce. 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st October 2017

Meet the Young National Chef of the Year 2018 finalists