CH&CO crowns its Chef of the Year

Alan Giannasi has been declared the CH&CO Chef of the Year, following the exciting and nail-biting final of the caterer’s inaugural chef competition.

Eight finalists from across the diverse CH&CO business battled it out for the coveted crown in front of well-known, respected judges, including Jeremy Ford, the Director of Food at Gather & Gather, Paul Mannering, Chef Academy Principal at Hit Training, Stewart McQueen, Manager of the Seafood Training School within Billingsgate Market and Mark Hill, Executive Chef at the House of Commons.

To secure their places in the final, the talented chefs were challenged to create a three-course menu featuring a seafood starter, surf and turf main course with a twist, and an autumn dessert. At the final, they had just two hours to produce the menu, showcasing their technical skills, flair for great flavours, knowledge of seasonal ingredients, presentation and good hygiene practices.

Sticking with the seafood theme, the final was held at the famous Seafood Training School within Billingsgate Market in London Docklands in front of an audience of colleagues, clients and suppliers.

All eight finalists impressed the judges with their flair and creativity, but Giannasi’s menu stood out for his mix of flavours and techniques used. His winning menu was a starter of seafood suet rag pudding with a crab bisque sauce, squid ink cracker and torched langoustine.

His surf and turf main consisted of a pan-fried pigeon breast and roasted monkfish Jerusalem artichoke puree, baby beets, watercress and pigeon jus.

Giannasi’s Autumnal inspired pudding in the three-course competition was an orange, almond and bilberry cake with sloe gin ice cream, salted granola, yoghurt panna-cotta, bilberry gel and bilberry compote.

As well as overall Chef of the Year, Alan was also awarded Best Starter, with Adam Robson scooping Best Main Course and Rachel Stebbing the Best Dessert.

Steve Oram, Culinary Learning & Development Chef for CH&CO, said, “The inaugural CH&CO Chef of the Year competition was a resounding success. What a great way to celebrate the culinary talent within the business and our unwavering focus on incredible food experiences and people development. Huge congratulations go to all the finalists and to Alan Giannasi for taking the title!

“The competition was designed to put food at the forefront for chefs. Our chefs love to innovate and push boundaries, and it allowed everyone to do this. They all demonstrated their passion for food, ingredients with sustainability, seasonality and provenance.

'This was an excellent platform for our chefs from across the business – from workplaces, education and healthcare to destinations, venues, livery and events – to showcase their incredible talents and creativity. I thank everyone involved in bringing the event to life, from colleagues to our supplier partners. We look forward to growing the competition for 2020!”

As well as the title CH&CO Chef of the Year, Alan Giannasi has won a meal for two at The Ritz plus a fantastic London Food Tour.

Rachel Stebbing and Adam Robson also won a bespoke Savernake knife, a Ritz cookbook and champagne, plus a trophy and certificate.

The CH&CO Chef of the Year competition was supported by Direct Seafoods, United Fresh Consortium and Churchill China.