Kevin Buck of Hide has been crowned BCF chef of the year 2023

The Staff Canteen

Kevin Buck, Sous Chef at Hide, has been crowned chef of the year 2023 by the British Culinary Federation (BCF) at the University of Birmingham. 

Kevin secured the first spot, winning a “discovery trip” to Quebec, Canada, as well as an “inspired Irish beef chefs trip” to Ireland with Aubrey Allen and Bord Bia as well as a cash prize of £2,000.

Kristian Curtis from The Table was the first runner up, with Harvey Perttola from L'Ortolan Restaurant, and Matt Nicholls from Cheal's Restaurant, joint second.

Warmly welcomed by the team at University College Birmingham (UCB), the 14 finalists, including: Mark Stinchcombe, Executive Chef at The Barn at Severn & Wye Smokery; Ben Taylor, Chef Patron, Le Petit Bois, Moseley; Matt Nicholls, Head Chef, Cheal’s Restaurant, Knowle; Dan Androne, Head Chef, The Forrest Hotel, Dorridge; Laura Kimber, Head Chef, Salt, Stratford Upon-Avon; Gary Kilminster, Development Chef, Essential Cuisine; Jamie Park, Executive Chef, Adam Handling Restaurant; Matthew Ramsdale, Senior Sous Chef; Harvey Perttola, Head Chef, L’Ortolan Restaurant, Reading; Luke Ellul, Executive Chef, BaxterStorey, Farrer & Co; Conor Bird, House of Commons, London; Kevin Buck, Sous Chef, Hide Restaurant, London; Kristian Curtis, Head Chef, The Table, De Banke Group; Matthew Smith, Cheshire South and West College, cooked three courses in two hours, demonstrating their ability to plan and work under pressure outside of their own kitchens.

The dishes then went to a panel of judges comprised of Tom Phillips, Restaurant Story, London; Gary Jones, previously Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons; Mark Burchell, Chef Patron, Moor Hall, Chorley, Lancs 2 Star; Brad Carter, Carter’s of Moseley, Birmingham; Leo Kattou, previous winner whilst at Simpsons, Birmingham; and Ashley Palmer Watts.

Asked how the finals unfolded for him, Kevin said: "Today has been amazing. Competing with the other chefs, they were incredible and amazing - I didn't think I was in the same league as half of them. It's been surreal to be honest." 

Commenting on where he hopes the competition takes him, Kevin said: "I'm originally not from the UK, so to come here from across the ocean, to get my name out there and hopefully do my own thing in the UK one day." 

Offering advice to future competitors, Kevin said: "Practice, practice, practice. I was incredibly lucky that Martin Carabott and Hide allowed me to have the time and resources to work on the dishes over and over again. Surround yourself with likeminded people, find a mentor that can really hone you, for example Martin Carabott and Ollie Dabbous have been amazing for me and Hide has been great in supporting me as well. " 

Meanwhile, competition judge and last year's winner Leo Kattou said the competition was "The quality of food today was exceptional. The top four finalists were all exceptional but there was some brilliant cooking from everyone involved, and it was amazing to see." 

As far as the food is concerned, "It's all about the flavours. What I got taught is that you're not inventing anything new, you're just cooking good food. Nice hot quality and looking for good presentation. There's no thrills no nothing, just good quality food. " 

Commenting on the evening, Adam Bennett from The Cross at Kenilworth, said: "It's always strong but when we get five or six really strong competitors we can definitely class that as a very good year."

Adam added: "We look for the basics to be done well initially, so good cooking degree, great sauce, nice garnish, nicely seasoned, but the ones that stands out are the ones that have that little twist that take it to the next level."

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th June 2023

Kevin Buck of Hide has been crowned BCF chef of the year 2023