Matt Nicholls from Cheals of Henley wins BCF Young Chef of the Year 2018

The  Staff Canteen

Matt Nicholls from Cheals of Henley has been announced as the British Culinary Federation Young Chef of the Year 2018.

This is Matt's fourth attempt at the competition, and in April he also made the final of Chef of the Year, he was awarded the title at a ceremony held at the University College Birmingham (UCB) on Monday, November 5. He was also awarded the prize for the best main course in the competition, cooking Worcestershire rabbit, Scottish langoustine, cauliflower, parsley and curry oil.

low res bcf

Ben Cowley, Millie Tibbins

and Matt Nicholls

Speaking to The Staff Canteen, Matt said: "It's brilliant and it was my last chance as I'll be too old next year. In previous years I put a lot of stress on myself but this year I thought 'I know what I'm doing and I know it's good' so it didn't matter where I came because I knew I'd done what I wanted to do." 

He added: "These competitions are great, they give you the boost of enthusiasm you need and the next goal to achieve - I think competitions are brilliant for chefs no matter what stage you are at. My head chef has really pushed me towards this for the past three years and he's been supportive in every way so, I wouldn't be here now without him and the team being behind me - it's not all about one man at the end of the day." 

In second place this year was Millie Tibbins from UCB who cooked Mushroom and tarragon tartlet with sof boiled quails eggs, truffle and Tunworth cheese sauce; fillet of Cornish short horn beef, fricassee of girolles and ceos, pickled onion petals, parsley oil, pomme puree and sauce Bordelaise with a side of braised beef, foie gras, celeriac, carrot, parsley and chapelure. For dessert was chocolate souffle, creme chantilly and hazelnut.

In third place was Ben Cowley from Simpsons restaurant in Birmingham -  in August this year he was crowned the Craft Guild of Chefs top chef (kitchen) in the Graduate Awards 2018. His menu was carrot with broth, smoked cheese and black garlic; pigeon, breast, offal ragu, red cabbage and hazelnut; baked apple, caramel tuille and brown butter ice cream. 

This year the 17 finalists had two hours to cook a vegetarian starter and then a main and dessert of their choice. As the winner Matt will now be automatically entered into the Young National Chef of the Year.

Peter Griffiths, President of the British Culinary Federation said this year there was a 'clear winner' and he is impressed with the high standard of entries from high end establishments 'which gets better every year'.

He said: "Credit to all the youngsters because they all performed really well - it's extremely tough to come in to a competition but they've all delivered and they should be proud of themselves."

There was also an award for the best starter which was won by Megan Connor from The Red Lion who cooked Wrekin blue panna cotta with beetroot textures, hazelnut crumble and truffle honey. And the best dessert was won by Jacob Major from The Manor House Hotel. 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th November 2018

Matt Nicholls from Cheals of Henley wins BCF Young Chef of the Year 2018