Last night an impressive line-up of 750 guests, including Michelin- starred chefs and hospitality luminaires, gathered at the London Hilton on Park Lane for the prestigious Craft Guild of Chefs annual awards.
Now in its 26th year, the Craft Guild of Chefs once again took to the stage to celebrate culinary excellence.
Seventeen awards were presented on the night, all of which recognised and acknowledged the remarkable talent across the UK and beyond.
Previous winners include household names such as Alain Ducasse, Pierre Koffmann, Angela Hartnett, and Clare Smyth.
Andrew Green, Craft Guild of Chefs chief executive welcomed all guests by saying: “These awards are the highlight of the Craft Guild calendar, where we all have the opportunity to recognise chefs from all sectors of our industry, whether they be apprentices who have made an impact in the early stages of their career, to the more seasoned professionals that maybe haven’t had the recognition they deserve.”
He added, “It’s also important we recognise the great work so many of the Guild members do. They give up their own time to travel around the country organising competitions year after year, which adds value to a chef’s ambitions and experience and generally raises our culinary profile as a whole.”
The dazzling evening ceremony was hosted by English chef and television personality James Tanner, and the awards were presented by Craft Guild of Chefs vice presidents Steve Munkley and David Mulcahy.
The first award of the night honoured Miller & Carter with the brand-new Chef’s Favourite Branded Group award. Voted for by Craft Guild of Chefs members and other professional chefs, the significant new award recognises restaurant groups demonstrating food quality and consistency, and a menu with variety and originality, accompanied by a suitable wine menu.
Keith Edwards, head of food procurement from Miller & Carter said: “I’m overwhelmed to pick up this award on behalf of Miller & Carter. It’s a brilliant achievement. I’m so proud to represent Miller & Carter. Craft Guild of Chefs is a great organisation.”
This year’s judging panel consisted of established chefs and professionals across the foodservice industry. These included Steve Munkley from Royal Garden Hotel, Consultant Pastry Chef Sarah Hartnett, Adam Smith from the Dorchester Collection and Craft Guild of Chefs vice president Nick Vadis from Compass Group UK & Ireland.
Following the Chef’s Favourite Branded Group award, 16 additional awards were presented to including the prestigious Craft Guild of Chefs Special Award. This year the Special Award honoured Michael Caines MBE for his outstanding contribution to the industry.
Chef patron of Lympstone Manor in Exmouth, Caines is one of Britain’s most-established chefs. He has appeared on television programmes such as BBC 1’s Saturday Kitchen, MasterChef, Sunday Brunch, Great British Menu, My Kitchen Rules and The Great British Bake-off: An Extra Slice.
The holder of two Michelin stars for 18 consecutive years, he was awarded a Michelin star for Lympstone Manor just six months after opening. In addition to his cuisine, he was also recognised for his contribution to the community, which is outstanding. His creation of the Michael Caines Academy at Exeter College was hailed as an excellent path to encourage and nurture the future generation of talented restaurateurs, chefs and waiters.
Of the award Michael Caines said: “I’m extremely proud. It’s most unexpected. It’s lovely to be recognised in this way by the Craft Guild of Chefs.
“In a room full of chefs celebrating the achievements of others, to receive this award in front of all the other award winners is an extremely proud moment in my career. I’m very honoured to receive it.”
He adds, “The Craft Guild of Chefs does incredible work. What I do contributes and feeds into the wonderful work they are doing. The Guild represents the future of the industry, in terms of making sure people recognise it as a profession that’s full of talent.
“If we don’t promote or celebrate the achievements of those within the industry, we won’t have a voice and be overlooked. I think it’s important people recognise the contribution that hospitality makes, and the artistic value chefs bring to our industry as a destination experience for people that come and enjoy food. Chefs are centred to that and need to be recognised. And we are doing that, as we do every year.”
The Restaurant Chef Award was awarded to Pascal Canevet of La Maison Bleue in Suffolk, who was rewarded for his French modern cuisine and locally sourced approach.
Canevet said: “This means a lot because it is nominated by other chefs. I’ve never done any competitions because I didn’t think I would be good enough, so this is absolutely amazing. And especially with the runner up’s, Jean-Philippe Blondet and Kuba Winkowski, whom are both great chefs. Winning against them is absolutely fantastic.”
The Young Chef Award went to Rick Owens. Owens trained at Westminster Kingsway College before becoming a commis chef at Raymond Blanc’s world renowned two Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.
Owens commented: “It feels good. I’m really proud of myself. The Craft Guild of Chefs are very supportive. They have helped me a lot with competitions and college. They have really helped me progress in my career. I’m really thankful for them.
Owens shares why he thought he won the award, “I’ve done many competitions. I always give my 100% and push myself. I want to thank my work and my parents.”
And the Apprentice Chef Award was awarded to Paige Hill, Royal Garden Hotel. Hill said: “I am over the moon. It’s unreal. I work so hard and it has all paid off. The Craft Guild of Chefs means a lot to me.
“I take part in many Craft Guild of Chefs competitions. They’ve mentored me through many competitions. I’m very grateful for them being there for me, not just as a chef but as a person too. It really means a lot to me.”
The people’s choice award was voted for by the organisation’s members and other industry colleagues. Nominations were sought for chefs from any part of the hospitality and catering industry and either for a specific achievement or for commitment over many years. Murray Chapman from First Contact Chefs was presented with this award for his tireless work promoting and encouraging students into the foodservice industry whilst still maintaining his own business.
Chapman said: “It’s an amazing feeling. The Craft Guild of Chefs is a great organisation that builds towards the development of young people and builds on skills that are sometimes lost in our industry. It’s very important that we grow, and we work closely together to achieve more with the Craft Guild of Chefs.”
H&C News would like to congratulate The Craft Guild of Chefs on staging such a special evening to celebrate chefs doing an amazing job making our industry special.