Following an extraordinary number of entries this year, the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts has announced the names of the 23 winners of the Annual Awards of Excellence 2017 (see end for full list).
Founded in 1980, the Academy of Culinary Arts is Britain’s leading professional association of head chefs, pastry chefs, restaurant managers and suppliers. The ‘Royal’ title was gifted to the Academy of Culinary Arts in 2013. While concerned with raising standards and awareness of food, food provenance, cooking and service, its objectives are primarily focused on the education and training of young people in the hospitality industry and the provision and development of career opportunities.
The AAE is not a competition, rather an examination; all or none of the candidates could achieve the Award, depending on their ability to attain the standard of excellence set by the judges. All those who successfully reach this standard win the AAE. In addition, the candidate scoring the most marks in their section is named the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Young Chef, Young Pastry Chef or Young Waiter 2017.
The Annual Awards of Excellence is the most prestigious award available to young professionals in the hospitality industry today, recognising and encouraging the most talented ambitious chefs, pastry chefs and waiters. Since it began in 1983, over 550 young professionals have achieved the Award, setting them off on highly successful career paths.
The purpose of the Awards is to inspire and encourage young professionals to achieve the highest possible standards in their chosen profession – kitchen, pastry or service – and to offer them clear guidelines for success in their career.
To participate in the AAE is a great learning experience in itself. To achieve the Award, candidates had to attain a score of over 70% in the tasks set and judged by industry luminaries and chaired by John Williams MBE, executive chef, The Ritz London and chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.
Kitchen finalists had five hours to produce four portions of a vegetable based starter, using ingredients from a mystery box, where celeriac was the central component of the dish and had to shine through; four portions of a quail dish; turbot a la Normande plated on a flat; and their own modern interpretation of an English Summer berries dish from the entry task each candidate had previously prepared.
Pastry finalists had five and a half hours to produce 24 dipped chocolates with a ganache centre of their choice; a chocolate stand with a minimum of three flowers to incorporate the summer season; 12 individual savarins, soaked and finished as desired but using mixed summer fruits; and four portions of crepe soufflé.
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 and liqueurs to a table of two guest judges.
|Olivia Catherine Burt||Fera at Claridge’s|
|Samuel King||The Ritz London|
|Henry Wadsworth||Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons|
|Tom Waters||Bonhams Restaurant|
|Fergus Wilford||Andre Garrett at Cliveden|
|Mathilde Pilaete||Alfred Dunhill|
|Lauren Chappell||Cromlix Hotel|
|James Dainton||André Garrett at Cliveden|
|Piers Gibson-Birch||Luton Hoo Hotel|
|Karen Gruet||Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons|
|Lewis Hunter||The Gleneagles Hotel|
|Ross Hunter||The Gleneagles Hotel|
|Stefanie Obermayer||The Gleneagles Hotel|
|Remi Orero||The Greenhouse|
|Charlotte Poynton||The Three Chimneys|
|Giuseppe Scudiero||The Ritz London|
|Antonella Sinisgallo||Roux at the Landau|
|Alexander Sumerauer||The Ritz London|
|Gabriele Tarantola||The Ritz London|
|Thomas Wickens||The Berkeley Hotel|
Honorary President of the AAE 2017: JASON ATHERTON, Chef Patron, The Social Company
Chairman of the AAE: JOHN WILLIAMS MBE, Executive Chef, The Ritz London
Joint Chairmen of Kitchen: MARTYN NAIL, Executive Chef, Claridge’s and ADAM BYATT, Chef Patron, Trinity
Joint Chairmen of Pastry: YOLANDE STANLEY MCA, Trainer, The Pastry Training Company & SARAH HARTNETT, Pastry Consultant
Joint Chairmen of Service: SERGIO REBECCHI, Director, Serenata Hospitality and JOHN COUSINS, Director, The Food and Beverage Training Company
Prizes and gala presentation dinner
The winning candidates will be invited to a Gala Dinner at the Rosewood London on Friday 14th July, at which they will be presented with a diploma recognising their achievement, a chefs jacket (for the Kitchen and Pastry) thanks to Continental Chef Supplies or lapel pin (for the Service), and a magnum of Champagne Laurent-Perrier.. The candidate who has scored the highest mark in each section – the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Young Chef, Young Pastry Chef or Young Waiter of the year – will be announced at the dinner and will be presented with prizes including a scholarship, thanks to the Savoy Educational Trust, MAC knives and cookware thanks to Continental Chef Supplies, a specially commissioned engraved Silver Trophy and a day’s work experience at The Fat Duck thanks to Heston Blumenthal.
Pictured: the Kitchen and Pastry finalists