Royal Academy of Culinary Arts announces 2016 Award of Excellence Winners

The Staff Canteen

Following several practical tasks and some tough competition from their peers, Joel Gueller from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons was named Young Chef of the Year, Polly Chan from Yauatcha was crowned Young Pastry Chef of the Year and Alexander Macleod from The Balmoral Hotel won Young Waiter of the Year.

Winners with Sponsors Photo by Clarissa Fortescue 

The winners were presented with their awards at a gala dinner held at Claridge’s on Tuesday, 12 July.

John Williams, Chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts said: “I hope that through the annual awards of excellence we can motivate and inspire the industry’s young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters to undertake a career of training first themselves, and then others; and to look outside the workplace to wider industry and opportunities.”

Hosted by John Williams MBE, Chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Sergio Rebecchi, Chairman of the AAE Service Committee, the three overall winners from each category were each presented with a silver trophy, Meyer cookware, MAC knives, £2, 000 cash prize and a day’s work experience at the Fat Duck thanks to Heston Blumenthal OBE.

To achieve the Award candidates had to attain a score of over 70% in the tasks set and judged by industry luminaries chaired by John Williams MBE, Executive Chef, The Ritz London and Chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.

Sara Jayne Stanes OBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts said: “The annual awards of excellence remains at the core of the Academy’s education philosophy and was, in 1983 when it was launched, the first of the Academy’s many contributions that have raised the bar and set standards for the industry for the past three decades.”


Kitchen Finalists had 5 hours to produce four portions of a starter, using ingredients from a mystery box; four portions of a veal dish plated on a flat with three garnishes and a sauce; and their own modern interpretation of a chocolate and orange dessert from the entry task each candidate prepared.

Pastry Finalists had 5.5 hours to produce a decorated showpiece croquembouche, classical or freestyle shape; two Linzer Tortes; and four portions of hot plated seasonal fruit soufflé.

Service Finalists were required to decant and describe wines to the judging panel, as well as set up and serve a 3 course meal with wines and liqueurs to a table of two guest judges.

The gala dinner also celebrated a further 24 talented young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters, who successfully achieved the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Award of Excellence 2016 in finals held in May and June.



Jack Croft Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Ruth Hansom The Ritz London

Elly Wentworth Lucknam Park Hotel



Hannah Bagshaw Hakkasan

Ethan Flack Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Irish Hacon The Langham Hotel

Naomi Longfield Hakkasan

Faye Weatherburn The Ritz London



Rebecca Bauhofer Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles

Ashley Best The Ritz London

Giuseppe Cola The Ritz London

Francesco De Santo The Ritz London

Lewis Dixon Northcote Manor

Daniel Dreiseitel The Ritz London

Emma Drummond The Gleneagles Hotel

Melissa Fergus The Fat Duck

Laudy Gibba-Smith L'Enclume

Louis Gillibert Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Giuseppe Laboragine Petrus

Gerald Murati The Ritz London

Callum Rees The Gleneagles Hotel

Gabriele Sorrentino The Ritz London

Dimitar Tanev The French by Simon Rogan

Laura Vernet Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons


Main picture credited to Clarissa Fortescue.

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th July 2016

Royal Academy of Culinary Arts announces 2016 Award of Excellence Winners