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British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year 2014 Finalists

The finalists in the British Culinary Federation’s (BCF) Chef of the Year Award 2014 were challenged on their butchery skills this week, in the penultimate stage of the competition, which was established by Aubrey Allen.

In round one, entrants were asked to devise a three course menu for two covers. Over 50 entries were whittled down by around half and those who were successful were invited to attend a live cook-off to prepare all three courses in under two hours. Only 10 chefs made it through to the final.

In the butchery round, which makes up part of the final, Aubrey Allen’s master butcher, Bob Spring, joined fellow judge Dick van Leeuwen, master butcher and business development manager for competition co-sponsor EBLEX, to assess the competitors’ knife skills.

Each chef was presented with two lamb primals - half a short fore on the bone and a short saddle - and given one hour to produce as many cuts as possible. Marks accounting for 10 per cent of the overall total were awarded for knife skills, innovation and creativity, maximising primal usage and overall appeal and presentation.

After a tense morning showcasing their butchery skills, the finalists, who as yet are unaware of their score, were each presented with a personalised chef’s jacket by Simon Smith, sales manager for Aubrey Allen, on EBLEX’s stand at Food & Drink Expo at the NEC, Birmingham.

Finalist Dez Turland, development chef at Saunton Sands Hotel in Devon, said: “This is the third time that I have reached the final and it’s a privilege to be a part of the competition again this year. For me it’s not just about winning but also about the experience of competing against other fantastic chefs. We’re given feedback throughout the competition which allows us to fine-tune our dishes for the final and produce our absolute best. We’re also able to bring a commis along, which is a great opportunity for them and helps them develop their experience. Including a butchery element in the competition is something I welcome as it’s an essential skill which many chefs coming into the industry don’t have.”

The final stage of the fourteenth bi-annual BCF Chef of the Year Award takes place on Monday 7 April 2014 at University College Birmingham, when the chefs will again have to prepare a three course meal in a live cook-off. This time, however, their main course dish must feature one of the lamb cuts they prepared in the butchery workshop.

The finalists are:

  • Adam Handling: St Ermin’s Hotel, London
  • Mathew Shropshall: University College Birmingham
  • James Buckley: The Genuine Dining Company
  • Dez Turland: Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon
  • Nick Evans: Middlethorpe Hall, York
  • Byron Franklin: Clare College, Cambridge
  • Keiron Stevens: Michael Wignall at The Latymer, Pennyhill Park
  • Carlos Martinez: The Stafford Kempinski, London
  • Imthiaz Kader: Wyndham Grand Chelsea Harbour, London
  • Keith Hooker: Restaurant Associates, Compass Group

An impressive line-up of top chefs will judge the final, including: Alain Roux, Ashley Palmer Watts, Brian Turner CBE, Simon Hulstone and Laurent Bouvier, President of Les Toques Blanches Lyonnaises, along with Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) Roger Narbett, and winner of the 2012 competition, Simon Webb.

The results and first, second and third prizes will be announced at a gala dinner which will take place the same evening. As well as receiving a cheque for £2,500, the Overall Winner will have the opportunity to join the English National Culinary Team on an all-expenses paid trip to Luxemburg in November 2014.

Peter Griffiths, president of the British Culinary Federation, said: “The competition, which is open to all chefs, provides a fantastic opportunity for both new and established professionals to showcase their cutting-edge creativity and be recognised for their talent and culinary skills.”