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Fifteen Graduate Awards finalists announced in anniversary year

The Craft Guild of Chefs has announced that 15 chefs will be going through to the finals of the 15th Graduate Awards after showcasing their skills in the northern or southern semi-finals.

The chefs, all under the age of 23, battled for their place in the final at heats which were held simultaneously at the University of West London and Sheffield College on Thursday 15th June 2017.

There were 36 chefs selected to take the Kitchen and Pastry tests, which were observed by a panel of examiners led by chair Russell Bateman, head chef at Colette’s at The Grove.

Testing their skills in the Kitchen Award final examination will be: -
• Ioannis Mexis, Elystan Street
• Bronwen Jenkins, The Royal Garden Hotel
• Jessica Deakin, The Compasses Inn
• Joe Payne, Andre Garrett Restaurant Cliveden House
• Gilles Varone, Petrus restaurant
• Raymond Steplin, House of Commons
• Chor Fai Shek, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
• Vince Vermeulen, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
• William Keeble, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
• Adam Phillips, Colette’s at the Grove
• Lewis Kuciers, the Black Bull at Blidworth
• Rory Seaman, Wiltons

Amy Rose Plumb from Titchwell Manor Hotel, Lorenzo Fleurie from Islington County House Hotel and Hannah Catley from Chiltern Firehouse have been selected to take part in the Pastry Graduate Awards final.

It is the 15th anniversary of the Graduate Awards and this year’s successful chefs will be announced at a special celebration lunch cooked by former Graduates Richard Edwards, Mark Froydenlund and Selin Kiazim.

Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs, Steve Munkley said, “When you look at the list of chefs going through to the final exam, I think we’ve got our strongest one yet. We really threw in a curveball as the chefs were asked to create a dish using Quorn, courtesy of our sponsor. It is an ingredient that very few will use regularly in their own workplaces but it was amazing to see the ideas and dishes they came up with.

'I’m delighted that we have reached our 15th year and have added the Pastry Award into the mix. Over recent year’s we’ve seen former Graduates go on to win Young National Chef of the Year and two of them, Luke Selby and Ben Champkin join the 2018 senior final. It shows what a fantastic platform the Graduate Awards can provide.”

Russell Bateman, Chair of Examiners, added, “We saw some really impressive cooking at the heats. The exam is very focused on chefs’ skills and culinary knowledge and that’s why I am so proud to judge. The list of establishments putting young chefs into this exam is great to see and a testament to how highly regarded the Graduate Awards are in UK kitchens.

'My advice to all the finalists is put in the work over the next two months as on the day the chefs that stand out will be those who have practised, listened to advice at the mentor day and can show us how much they want this.”

The final examination will take place at University College Birmingham on 22 August.