Promising young chefs compete for top title in UCB's kitchens
12 top chefs under the age of 23 have undergone a rigorous day of challenges in the final of the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards hosted by UCB.
Now in its 15th year, the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards have been carefully designed to test creativity, flair and resourcefulness to the very limits.
With semi-final heats held at the University of West London and Sheffield College, the decision to place the all-important final examination at UCB cements the Craft Guild’s longstanding relationship with the University. The competition’s organisers have also cited the outstanding quality of the College of Food’s facilities as a strong motive behind the decision to hold the final stage in Birmingham.
UCB’s kitchens were certainly put to the test on the day, with finalists examined on everything from their butchery skills to a ‘mystery basket’ round, in which they were challenged to produce a surprise dish from scratch. The focus throughout was on classic dishes executed with confidence, imagination and attention to detail – requiring skills the Awards’ founder Steve Munkley believes all too often go unappreciated.
In a philosophy the Craft Guild shares closely with UCB, which boasts a practical approach to all of the courses offered by its College of Food, Steve claims raw cheffing talent is best found not in the classroom, but the kitchen:
“We founded this competition 15 years ago because we felt students weren’t being told their skill sets – which as chefs are practical and creative, but not necessarily academic – were valued in the world of work,” says Steve.
“Since then the Awards have become much more than that, recognising the very best young chefs in the UK and sending them on to national competitions and the World Skills team – with some graduates even earning their own Michelin stars. But we still keep the philosophy that a chef’s hands-on skills, from the basic to the most technical, must be nurtured and celebrated if the rest of the world wants to benefit from them.”
This year’s competitors have an anxious wait ahead of them before successful graduates are announced at a special event at the 5-star Royal Garden Hotel in London in September. We wish them the best of luck.