Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards announced

Josh Bingham from Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons scored an exceptionally high 90% to become the highest achiever in the Craft Guild of Chefs 2013 Graduate Awards.

As well as Bingham, four other chefs graduated. These were Luke Selby also from Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Claire Willett from The Waterfront Restaurant, Daniel Lee from The Brooklands Hotel and Danny Hoang from Viajante, who passed the final exam taken at the University of West London, where renowned chef Paul Gayler was a judge and chairman of examiners. He was “astounded” at the standard at this year’s final exam, which resulted in five chefs making the grade.

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Graduate Awards organiser and Craft Guild vice president Steve Munkley, who hosted yesterday’s awards presentation at London’s Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel, said: “Paul was astounded that there was not one dish that he couldn’t have served up to a client.

“In my view, we had the best bunch of finalists we’ve ever had and it was extremely close. One candidate even got full marks in the fishmongery, which has never happened before. An absolute pleasure to be part of this year’s final exam.”

In a new move for the programme, finalists this year took part in a ‘foodie’ mentor day with Craft Guild chefs in preparation for the final, which Munkley believes helped raise the bar.

“We identified that there was a shortfall in the time busy young chefs could devote to getting ready for the final and the mentor day helped prepare our seven finalists mentally,” added Munkley, who is also executive chef at London’s Royal Garden Hotel.

“They had a full eight hours to talk about what was going to happen and ask questions, an opportunity to nail things down.”

The examination process created by Munkley 11 years ago aim to take what chefs under the age of 23 learnt at college and started to hone in the workplace to the next level. Candidates need to score 85% to pass.

This year’s graduates have won a European study tour with Villeroy & Boch and a trip to Severn & Wye Smokery arranged by James Knight of Mayfair.

As the highest achiever, Bingham also receives a three night break for two courtesy of Warner Hotels (Bourne Leisure Group).

This year’s winner of the Employer’s Award for Excellence in Training was Raymond Thompson from the University of Stirling, who mentored finalist Ross McMillan from the Stirling Management Centre.

Congratulations Luke and Josh - we are very proud of you!