Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Awards of Excellence 2012

The Academy of Culinary Arts is delighted to announce the Finalists of the Annual Awards of Excellence 2012. Following seven Semi-Finals around the UK, in which over 100 enthusiastic young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters competed, nearly 50 have successfully reached the standard of excellence required to go through to the Finals, including five members of staff from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.

Ben Howarth, Josh Bingham and Luke Selby made it through the semi-finals in the Kitchen section, and in Service, Adam Willis and Kieran McLoughlin are both in the final.

In the Kitchen semi-finals at the University of West London, Westminster Kingsway College, University College Birmingham, and The Cook School in Kilmarnock, candidates were required to undertake the following tasks: a 30 minute theory test; a skills test including making shortcrust pastry, poaching eggs, making a hollandaise sauce and preparing scallops; poached egg tartlets with hollandaise sauce; scallop ceviche and a scallop with risotto; panna cotta.

In the Service semi-finals at The Ritz, London and The Turnberry Resort, Scotland, candidates were required to sit a one hour theory paper which tested their knowledge on a range of food and beverage service aspects and were interviewed by the judges about their establishments' menu and wine list.


The Kitchen and Pastry Finals will take place at the University of West London on Wednesday 20th June 2012 and the Service Finals will take place at Le Gavroche on Saturday 16th June and The Gleneagles Hotel on Monday 25th June.


Founded in 1980, the Academy of Culinary Arts is Britain’s leading professional association of Head Chefs, Pastry Chefs, Restaurant Managers and suppliers.  While concerned with raising standards and awareness of food, food provenance, cooking and service, its objectives are equally focused on the provision of career opportunities.  These aims and objectives are achieved through a number of education and training initiatives, one of which is the Annual Awards of Excellence.

The Patron of the Academy of Culinary Arts: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.


The purpose of the awards is to inspire and encourage young people 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.  It is not a competition as there is no first, second and third place, but instead any number of candidates can achieve the standard of excellence set by leading figures within the Academy of Culinary Arts and the hospitality industry.

Good basic skills are the essential cement with which young, ambitious members of the catering industry can build a rewarding career, while more taxing tasks help to identify the best cooks and waiters of today who will become the leaders of tomorrow.


Honorary President of the AAE 2011: HESTON BLUMENTHAL OBE, Chef Patron, The Fat Duck
Chairman of the AAE: JOHN WILLIAMS MBE, Executive Chef, The Ritz
Chairmen of Kitchen: MARTYN NAIL, Executive Chef, Claridge’s and ADAM BYATT, Chef Patron, Trinity
Chairman of Service: SERGIO REBECCHI, Managing Director, Chez Nico Restaurants and JOHN COUSINS, Director, The Food and Beverage Training Company