Four young chefs from independent restaurants, a hotel in the Midlands and a top London establishment have won diplomas from the Académie Culinaire, having scored more than 70% in the kitchen category of its Awards of Excellence, where finalists were required to cook a four-course meal.
Sponsored by Mumm Champagne, the awards cook-off took place at Thames Valley University, Slough, earlier this month.
The triumphant four are: Jason Calcutts of Birmingham's Swallow hotel; Gareth Nutter of Claridge's, London; Glynn Purnell of Simpson's restaurant, Kenilworth, Warwickshire; and Alastair Ross of Leith's restaurant, London. Sous chef Ross, who is 24, scored the highest points and was commended by the judges for cooking a notable, technically sound four-course meal.
He won despite forgetting to bring all his ingredients - but after a quick trip to the supermarket in Slough, he didn't look back.
Six other finalists in the kitchen category were pipped at the post - not quite reaching the required standard to be awarded a diploma. They achieved commendation simply by fighting their way through the regional heats to participate in the final.
The six young chefs are: Eric Bediat of Cliveden, Taplow, Buckinghamshire; Gary Gardiner of Gleneagles, Auchterarder; Robert Ingleston of London's Savoy hotel; Jonathan Jowitt of Derbyshire's Cavendish hotel; Matthew Pashley of the Connaught, London; and Marco Torri of London's Halkin hotel.
At the same event, four young pâtissiers from top hotels in the country have also been awarded diplomas of excellence after impressing the panel of judges with their skills.
They are: William Curley of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire; the Dorchester's Kate Duffield; Paul Hayward of the Ritz; and Amanda Stratford of London's Churchill Inter-Continental. Curley scored the highest mark in this pastry category.
Eight other pƒtissiers participating in the final did not make the grade but were commended by the judging panel. They were: Stephen Bailey of Bachmann's Patisserie, Thames Ditton; Stefano Borella of London's Churchill Inter-Continental; Lisa Drury of Winteringham Fields, South Humberside; Graham Hornigold of the Lygon Arms, Broadway, Worcestershire; Karen Molloy of London's Hyatt Carlton Tower; Shoshana Rookard of the Savoy Grill, London; Alison Seagrave of London's Hyatt Carlton Tower; and Philip Usher of London's Park Lane hotel.