The Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards - top tips on how to pass the 'classics' task

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 31st March 2017

The Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards is celebrating its 16th year and it has added some amazing chefs to its wall of fame in that time.

So who better to offer advice to the next chef hopefuls entering this year's Graduate Awards than those who have already achieved this award! The Staff Canteen spoke to past graduates to find out what advice they would give to successfully pass the 'classics' task where they have to cook a classic main course and a dessert.

**The Graduate Awards are an examination for chefs, aged 23 and under, designed to test and improve the skills that chefs have learnt at college and in their early careers, and take them to the next level. Chefs have until Sunday, 1st April 2018 to submit their entries. You can complete your entry form online here.

Ruth Hansom
Ruth Hansom

1) Ruth Hansom, Young National Chef of the Year 2017 winner and chef at the Michelin-starred the Ritz was a graduate in 2014.

“For the classical element use books such as Le Repertoire and Larousse to help you create a portfolio.”

2) Connor Godfrey, junior sous chef, Royal Garden Hotel and 2014 graduate

“My advice for the classical dish would be to use the fish and meat tasks to create classical dishes as that is what the classical element is based on. Look through old French cooking books as these are predominantly the ones used. Expect the unexpected and do extensive research into 'old school' dishes.

3) Victoria Scupham, pastry chef, The Royal Household and former graduate 2014.

Victoria Scupham
Victoria Scupham

“For the classics I would look at the two fish and meat you have been given and do a little research, Le Repertoire for example, and look at some classics to give you an idea of what you could be given on the day. On the day make sure you read the recipe a couple of times then proceed – don’t just rush straight in.

4) Amber Francis, apprentice chef, at the Michelin-starred The Ritz and 2014 graduate

“Research and read, look up the classic dishes associated with ingredients. Use classic books such as Le Repertoire and Larousse Gastronomique if possible. Then practice as many of the dishes that you have researched as possible.”

5) Andrew Hall is head chef at The Ninth which holds a star in the Michelin Guide UK. He is also a former graduate from 2006.

For the classics make sure you know all your basics, if you are unsure of a dish try to piece together the elements you do know and start from there.”

Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall

6) Eleanor de Maria is junior sous at Compass Group UK & Ireland Head Office and was also a graduate from 2016.

“Read up on all different kinds of classical recipes involving the four different meat and fish proteins that have been specified. But don't stress too much because I hadn't even heard of my classical recipe, the recipe cards are easy to understand with clear instructions.”

7) Luke Selby is currently the head chef of the Michelin starred Dabbous in London and was Young National Chef of the Year 2014. He was a graduate back in 2013.

“Read those classic books and research the dish, the judges are looking for solid, fundamental classic cooking skills!

8) Rosa Fothergill, who previously worked at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, is now the chef and owner of Tea Time Yorkshire. Rosa was a graduate from back in 2008.

Read up on your classics, make sure you have a good basic knowledge of classical dishes and recipes that you can remember!”

9) Charlie Aggett was a graduate in 2015 and is currently chef tournant at the Michelin-starred Hotel Villino in Lindau, Germany.

Charlie Aggett
Charlie Aggett

“Nothing will help you more on the classics than reading up the classic books such as 'La repertoire de la Cuisine' and 'A guide to modern Cuisine' by Escoffier.”

10) Drew Snaith, senior sous at the Globe Tavern in Borough Market, was a graduate in 2015 and was a finalist in last year’s Young National Chef of the Year competition.

Read the recipe, then read it again. It is crucial to produce the dish required. Don't wing it or try to change or add ingredients, stick to the brief. Taste everything, adjust seasoning, taste again, repeat until your happy.”

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 31st March 2017

The Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards - top tips on how to pass the 'classics' task