Former UCB chef and pastry students take top spots in Craft Guild Graduate Awards
Former UCB students Ieuan Davies and Ben Cowley dazzled the judges on their way to securing places in the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards hall of fame.
Just six young chefs from across the country achieved the 85 per cent pass mark needed to make the grade, but Ieuan and Ben went one better as they were the two highest achievers - Ieuan in the pastry section and Ben in the kitchen/larder section.
Regarded as one of the hardest skills tests in the industry, a total of 14 chefs made it through regional heats and to the finals, which were staged over a gruelling five hours in UCB's kitchens in Summer Row.
Chair of the Pastry Graduate Award Will Torrent said: “For me, the one thing that has stood out beyond anything else is the personal development of these chefs.
“Yes we tasted some delicious food that I would be happy to pay for, but I also watched young chefs push through difficulties during the five-hour exam and come out the other side stronger.
“We witnessed chefs take their time, remain focused and not give up – all of which are skills only the best chefs have.”
Ieuan, who is now part of the team at Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey, studied his Level 3 Advanced Professional Cookery at UCB and one of his lecturers, Gary Goldsmith, was also on the judging panel for the Graduate Awards.
Gary said: “Ieuan was constantly professional towards all of his studies here at UCB, always wanting to gain further knowledge and discover the ‘whys’ behind every recipe.
“His marks were consistently high from all the judges who praised him on his calmness – even when things didn’t go his way.”
Ben, who now works at Simpsons in Edgbaston, studied the same course as Ieuan and was another to impress the judge as he finished top of the pile among the kitchen graduates.
Chefs were able to watch butchery, fish and dessert masterclasses to help them prepare for the final exam and Craft Guild vice president Steve Munkley said: “This year we saw some of the highest scores we’ve ever seen in the butchery and fishmongery tests and I’m confident that this was down to the mentor experience.
“It is two-days of their careers that these finalists won’t ever forget and while only a few chefs passed the overall exam, the development of basic skills during this process was exciting to see.”
The Graduate Awards were founded in 2002 for chefs aged 23 and under to test and improve the skills learnt at college and in their early careers and to take them to the next level.
Receiving the Graduate Award has proved career changing, with previous graduates going on to gain Michelin stars, work in some of the world’s top restaurants, be part of the World Skills team and even win the Young National Chef of the Year title.
Find out more about courses at UCB's College of Food