Annual awards of excellence 2023 winners presented at Claridge’s London

Lisa Jenkins

Royal Academy of Culinary Arts

Premium Supplier 1st August 2023
Lisa Jenkins

Annual awards of excellence 2023 winners presented at Claridge’s London

The leading lights of the hospitality industry came together on Monday 31 July at Claridge’s to celebrate the winners of the Annual Awards of Excellence (AAE). 

The evening was hosted by John Williams MBE, chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Lisa Jenkin CEO of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. 

The candidate who scored the highest mark in each section was announced as the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Young Chef, Young Pastry Chef and Young Waiter of the year: 

KITCHEN: Billy Etheridge, Demi Chef De Partie, Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons 

PASTRY: Megan Armstrong, Pastry Chef De Partie, 21 Newcastle 

SERVICE: Cleo Hudson, Demi Chef De Rang, L’Enclume 

The Gala Dinner also celebrated a further 26 talented young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters, who successfully achieved the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ Annual Award of Excellence 2023 in finals held in June (full list in editors notes). 

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

Cleo Hudson, Demi Chef De Rang, L’Enclume said:
“I don’t believe it, I feel very very lucky, I practised my self-confidence the most, as it has always been my biggest thing, as I don’t believe in myself. My restaurant manager Graeme Cumine and the team at L’Enclume really supported me and this is an award for them. I entered to prove to myself that I could do it. Every service is different, as long as you stay true to yourself, smile and get along with everyone you can adapt to anything.” 

Megan Armstrong, Pastry Chef De Partie, 21 Newcastle
“I am just in complete shock, it's unreal! Huge thanks to my head chef Helen Doyle and our sous chefs who gave me the best support throughout. I really focused on the nougatine stand which was quite technical ensuring that nothing snapped or that the caramel didn’t cook too far. Something that I learnt the most from entering was stress control and managing emotions under a time constraint. Having a strong support network really helped me throughout, you need to rely on your team around you, it isn’t possible to achieve it without that support. Whether that be your family or your chef team they make it so much easier.” 

John Williams, Chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts said:
“The Annual Awards of Excellence provides a much-needed opportunity to showcase the exemplary talent of our brightest young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters working throughout our culinary and hospitality industries. I hope that by taking part in the process, all candidates are motivated and inspired to continually better themselves through training and experiences, and then pass their knowledge onto others as they progress through their careers.” 

Lisa Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer 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 to have raised the bar and set standards for the industry over the past four decades.” 

Kitchen Finalists at UWL had five hours to produce two portions of a starter from a mystery box where asparagus was the central component; a Paupiette of sole using a Larousse Gastronomique recipe; and create a modern interpretation of a Raspberry Mille-Feuille for two covers.

Pastry finalists had five and a half hours at the University of West London to make a Strawberry Charlotte Royal with Sauce Anglaise, two (French pronunciation) Paris Brest and a Nougatine stand.

Service Finalists were required to set up and silver serve a four-course meal which included carving a rack of lamb and decanting and describing wines to a table of two guest judges. They competed at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester and The Gleneagles Hotel respectively.

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