Rosanna Frost

Royal Academy of Culinary Arts

Premium Supplier 12th July 2018


The leading lights of the hospitality industry came together on Tuesday 10th July at Claridge’s to celebrate the winners of the Annual Awards of Excellence (AAE). The evening was hosted by Brian J. Turner CBE, President, and John Williams MBE, Chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. The candidate who scored the highest mark in each section were announced as the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Young Chef, Young Pastry Chef and Young Waiter of the year:

• Young Chef of the Year:
• Young Pastry Chef of the Year:
• Young Waiter of the Year:

The Gala Dinner also celebrated a further 18 talented young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters, who successfully achieved the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ Annual Award of Excellence 2018 in finals held in May and June (full list in editors notes).

KITCHEN: Connor Farrer The Ritz, London

PASTRY: Sophie Bamford 21, Newcastle

SERVICE: Catarina Caldeira The Vineyard at Stockcross

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 (see end for full list of judges).

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.”

Sara Jayne Stanes OBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts said:
“The Annual Awards of Excellence remains the essence of the Academy’s education philosophy and was, in 1983 when it was launched, the first of the Academy’s many initiatives that have raised the bar and set standards for the industry over the past three decades.”

Kitchen Finalists had five hours to produce four portions of a starter, using ingredients from a mystery box, where crab was the central component and had to shine through; four portions of a classic Alain Ducasse pigeon dish; roast squab pigeon, pommes dauphine and diable sauce plated on a flat; and
finally their own modern interpretation of an gooseberry dessert from the entry task each candidate had previously prepared.

Connor Farrer Young Chef of the Year 2018 said:
“I am extremely grateful for being given the opportunity to take part in AAE 2018, it played a massive part in my life and I feel extremely proud to be awarded the winner 2018 Young Chef of the Year. The competition gave me the opportunity to test myself in every possible way and I must thank my mentor John Williams for guiding me through the stages and helping me hone my skills. All the hard work paid off the moment my name was called at Claridges! I would recommend any young professional to do the same and put everything they’ve got into it.”

Connor graduated from the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Apprenticeship Programme at Bournemouth and Poole College in 2015. This is a great success story for the work of the Royal Academy does in promoting young talent in our industry.

The pastry finalists had five and a half hours to produce 12 allumettes, 16 dipped chocolates with a raspberry ganache centre of their choice; 16 sable tartlets and 16 creative financiers, and finally a sugar stand with a flower to incorporate the theme of a summer fairground.

Sophie Bamford, Young Pastry Chef of the Year 2018 said:
“Achieving this Award was completely surreal – almost as if I was starring in a real-life film, I genuinely could not believe it. The most important thing the AAE has taught me is to trust yourself and have the confidence to try anything and everything, no matter how crazy or insane your ideas sound. However, it is just as important to accept failure, especially during practices and run-throughs, and to be physically and mentally prepared to lift yourself up after countless unsuccessful attempts. I was extremely privileged to have Helen Doyle Executive Pastry Chef provide me with the guidance, support and encouragement to challenge myself.”

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

Catarina Caldeira, Young Waiter of the Year 2018 said:
“Taking part in the Annual Awards of Excellence was a fantastic experience. It gave me the opportunity to meet likeminded hospitality professionals and present my skills on a national stage. In hospitality it can be difficult to communicate your skills. Achieving the Annual Award of Excellence provides a stamp of approval for any potential future employers. I was in disbelief when I heard I had won ‘Young Waiter of the Year’. The standard of the other competitors was incredibly high and I was delighted to achieve the award, let alone win the competition. I would encourage anyone looking to further their career in hospitality to take part. It is an immensely rewarding competition.”

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