Compass Group UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest food and support services firm, celebrated its annual Chef of the Year competition this week at The Restaurant Show, hosted at Olympia in London.
The competition offers Compass’ chefs, from all levels, an opportunity to showcase their passion and culinary skills.
Hundreds of chefs from across the business applied to take part and were whittled down through preliminary rounds, that took place over the last 12 months, to leave just 28 competitors across the three categories; Apprentice, Junior and Senior Chefs of the Year.
A line-up of prestigious chefs adjudicated over the competitors’ food.
These included Brian Turner CBE; Peter Griffiths MBE; Andreas Antona, founder of restaurant Simpsons and The Cross; Simon Hulstone, chef proprietor of The Elephant Restaurant and Brasserie, Omera Gallucci; Chris Tanner, one of the founding partners of the Tanners Restaurant; and last year’s senior Chef of the Year winner, David Mahoney.
In the senior competition, the ten chefs were given just two hours to cook four courses. Chartwells Chef Aaron Latham from De Montfort University took home the gold award, the esteemed judges were full of praise for his stunning dishes. Aaron jumped up two places after taking the bronze award last year. Ollie Hay from Restaurant Associates took the silver award and Matthew Lord took the bronze award.
The junior event, showcasing the extraordinary young talent within the company, saw the ten competitors cook three courses in just one and a half hours. The gold award was won by Faye de Souza from Restaurant Associates who went one better this year, after picking up the silver award last year. Sunny Patel from Chartwells took the silver award, while Hayleigh Whiteside from Eurest took the bronze.
The apprentice competition saw the eight chefs, who are still completing their Chef Academy apprenticeships, given forty minutes to cook one dish. Michael Ladapo from Levy Restaurants UK took the gold award, while Mateusz Hnatowski from Restaurant Associates and Marcin Jaros from Compass Ireland took the silver and bronze awards respectively.
Nick Vadis, Culinary Director for Compass Group UK & Ireland, said, “Our people are at the heart of our business and the Chef of the Year competition offers the brilliant culinary talent we have across the company an opportunity to showcase their skills. The increase in finalists in both the Junior and Senior categories, highlights the amount of talent we have and this is why it’s an event I look forward to every year. Congratulations to all those who competed on the delicious dishes you created and for being exemplary ambassadors for our expert culinary team.”
Winner of the Senior Award, Chartwells Chef Aaron Latham from De Montfort University, said, “It’s a great feeling to win and I’m really excited for the future. I have been preparing since last year’s competition, where I was looking at how I could have improved my dishes that afternoon. The past six weeks have been hard work, constantly tweaking and practicing but now the hard work has paid off. For anyone thinking of entering Compass Chef of the Year do it, be brave, test your boundaries, test your limits.”
As well as the prestige of taking the gold awards in their categories, the junior and senior Chef of the Year winners will now travel to The USA next year, visiting some of Compass’ sites and searching for new innovative ideas and culinary trends.
Earlier in the week Compass had further reason to celebrate after Adam Thomason from Restaurant Associates was awarded second place at the National Chef of the Year competition which was also held at The Restaurant Show. Adam previously won Compass’ Chef of the Year competition in 2014 and was runner up at National Chef of the Year last year.