NEW VIDEO: Six young chefs achieve The Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Award 2018

The  Staff Canteen

Following an intensive five hours in the kitchens of University College Birmingham last week, the Craft Guild of Chefs has revealed six young chefs achieved its Graduate Award 2018.

Regarded as one of the hardest skills tests in the industry, 14 chefs undertook the final kitchen or pastry exams after completing an online entry form and taking part in heats in the north and south. To join the Graduate Awards hall of fame, the chefs, aged 23 or under, had to achieve a pass mark of 85%.

Grads 2018 highest achievers low res
Ieuan Davies and Ben Cowley

Making the grade in the kitchen exam this year was Ben Cowley from Simpsons Restaurant, Jordon Powell who works at The Half Moon and Bronwen Jenkins from Royal Garden Hotel. Passing the pastry tests were Ieuan Davies from Pennyhill Park Hotel, Emma-Jayne Lawson who works at Northcote Manor and Sofia Petrova who is based at Ham Yard Hotel.

Each year the Craft Guild of Chefs announces the highest achiever in each category and this year, Ben Cowley from Simpsons Restaurant took the top spot in the kitchen and said: "I'm overwhelmed but I feel like I put  a lot of hard work into this. I can only say thank you to Luke (Tipping) and Andreas (Antona) for supporting me through everything I've done."

He added: "I would encourage any young chef, at any level in their career, to do the Graduate Awards. It's a good experience, you get to meet some great people and you get to go on an amazing mentor day with the chefs as well.  At the end of the day it's about honing your skills and learning about who you are as a chef."

Alongside Ben,  Ieuan Davies from Pennyhill Park Hotel came top in the pastry test. He said: "It feels amazing! During the final I had a bit of a wobble so it's a complete shock to come top. I couldn't have done it without my head chef Sarah Frankland. 

"The whole point of being a chef is working as a team so although the Graduate Awards is about your own individual effort it's really important that your head chef or mentor is there to bring you forward, offer advice and dig you out of holes."      

Founder of the Graduate Awards, Steve Munkley who is Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs said: “This year we saw some of the highest scores we’ve ever seen in the butchery and fishmongery tests and I’m confident this is down to the mentor experience. It’s two-days of their careers the finalists won’t ever forget and whilst only a few chefs passed the overall exam, the development of basic skills during this process was exciting to see. Knowing that we are making a real difference to the level of raw culinary skills in the industry makes all the hard work worthwhile. Those who didn’t make the grade really should think about coming back next year and trying again, as so often we see chefs taking a few attempts to get through. It’s a high standard but when the achievers go on to take part in competitions such as Young National Chef of the Year it is absolutely key they are ready to do battle at the highest level.”

Chair of the Pastry Graduate Award Will Torrent added: “For me the one thing that has stood out beyond anything else is the personal development of these chefs. Yes, we tasted some delicious food that I would be happy to pay for, but I also watched young chefs push through difficulties during the five-hour exam and come out the other side stronger. We witnessed chefs take their time, remain focused on the end goal and not give up – all of which are skills only the best chefs have. Whatever the level of culinary competition, the lessons you learn when you don’t achieve are just as important, if not more, than those when you succeed.”

This year the Kitchen Mentor Award was presented to Peter Fiori, executive chef at Coutts Bank for the input he gave to Graduate Awards kitchen finalist, Isabel Wallace-Hadrill throughout the process. Nick Kimber from Ham Yard Hotel was awarded the Pastry Mentor Award for the advice and support he showed Pastry Graduate Award achiever, Sofia Petrova.

Chefs can register their interest for the 2019 Graduate Awards by emailing [email protected] or by tweeting @Craft_Guild.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th September 2018

NEW VIDEO: Six young chefs achieve The Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Award 2018