Russell Bateman has been crowned the National Chef of the Year 2014 at The Restaurant Show

The Staff Canteen

Russell Bateman has won the prestigious title of National Chef of the Year 2014.

Russell, who is head chef at Colette's Restaurant, The Grove, Hertfordshire, beat seven other talented chefs to win the title following a nail biting live final at London's Earls Court.

National Chef of the Year 2014
National Chef of the year 2014

This is Russell's second time in the final and he said: "I didn't expect it. It's fantastic - it's just a complete shock.

"I was up there with some great chefs and I was being judged by some of the best chefs to have walked this land. Some of them like Marcus Wareing are former bosses, to impress him is a massive achievement for me." He added: "Last year helped massively. I understood the surroundings and the pressure and I learned from it. I knew that the only things that really matter are simplicity and flavour, everything else is a plus."

>>> Read more about Russell Bateman here

The finalists, Andrew Gotting, executive group head chef, Galloping Gourmet, Worecestershire; Diane Camp, development chef, Reynolds, Hertfordshire; Adam Handling, head chef, Caxton, London; Daniel Morgan, sous chef, The Square, Mayfair, London; Simon Webb, head chef, Restaurant Associates, London; Lahiru Jayasekara, head chef, The Manor at Weston on the Green, Oxfordshire and Nick Edgar, head chef, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, Oxfordshire. And they had two hours to prepare a three course meal using items from a mystery basket of ingredients which they received two weeks ago.

The Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year is considered the most prestigious competition in the UK so it was no surprise to see the likes of Brett Graham, Bruce Poole, Clare Smyth, Jason Atherton, Marcus Wareing and Tom Kerridge, led by chair of judges Phil Howard lining up to scrutinise the final eight’s creations. Phil explained: “He had two of the outstanding dishes of the day. He was consistent and that’s what

National Chef of the Year 2014
National Chef of the Year 2014

won it today. This year’s finalists were some of the best we’ve had. Normally there are a few weak links they were a high pedigree across the board.”

This year, candidates were asked to prepare a first course using fish or shellfish from James Knight of Mayfair, a main course using a choice of meats supplied by RARE and a hot or cold chocolate dessert, using Cacao Barry Chocolate. Russell’s winning menu featured oyster, scallop, celeriac, apple, coastal herbs, veal sweetbreads, garam masala, girolles, turnip, black garlic, sherry vinegar and madirofolo, Ghana and Zephyr chocolate, fig, ruby port, yoghurt dessert.

Head judge Clare Smyth MBE, chef patron at three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay who will take over as Chair in 2015, said: “I could see Russell shaking as he plated up his dessert and I wanted to say to him don’t worry you’ve already provided us with two outstanding dishes! He’s come through some of the finest kitchens in the country and it showed in his food he presented today.

“You’ve got to have guts, determination and show stopping dishes to do well in this competition and the top three this year were very close. They all served modern and relevant food, which was really refreshing to see.”

National Chef of the Year 2014
National Chef of the Year 2014

She added: “I’m going to push my guys to enter next year. It’s a great experience to get out of your kitchen and measure yourself against the best talent in the industry. I’d like to see more women coming through but only if they deserve to be there. It’s tough and expectations are high.”

Also on the panel David Mulcahy, the competition’s organiser and Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs. Before announcing this year’s winner he said: "They’ve competed under enormous pressure, it’s been a stressful day and an immenslely important day for these chefs. They’ve followed in the steps of many well known faces."

He added: “This year’s judges have been the most influential and highly respected panel we’ve had inthis competition and indeed in any UK competition. To be judged by that level of chef is something quite privileged.”

By winning the competition, Russell joins some of industry’s most celebrated chefs, many with Michelin stars. Past winners include Gordon Ramsay, Mark Sargeant, David Everitt-Matthias, Lou Jones, Bruce Sangster, Simon Hulstone and Alyn Williams. The competition runners up were Nick Edgar, head chef at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, Oxfordshire and Daniel Morgan, sous chef at The Square, Mayfair, London. Luke Selby from Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons was also named Craft Guild of Chefs Young

Young National Chef of the Year 2014 Luke Selby

Young National Chef of the Year 2014

Luke Selby

National Chef of the Year.

Luke’s menu of Beef tartare, alliums baby beetroots, mustard sorbet, Seared sable fish, parsley, lemon and caper dressing, pickled cockles and scraps, Chocolate fondant with pink grapefruit, jasmine tea ice cream and Grue de caco was deemed exceptional by the competition judges. Mark Sargeant, Young National Chef of the Year ambassador, was delighted with the quality of cooking and talent demonstrated by the young chefs.

He said: “The standard of young chefs in this competition is amazing and their raw hunger is incredible. Overall it’s the best quality that I’ve seen in this competition to date. Each menu was balanced, well thought out and seasonal. It’s fantastic for the industry to have such great palates amongst these young chefs.”

By Cara Houchen


>>> Read more about National Chef of the Year 2014 here 

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 7th October 2014

Russell Bateman has been crowned the National Chef of the Year 2014 at The Restaurant Show