Top chefs recognised at glittering awards dinner at The St Johns Hotel

Bruce McDowell, Principal Hayley Executive Group Chef, with chefs from the Principal Hayley Chef Academy, at The St Johns Hotel, Solihull.

Bruce McDowell, Principal Hayley Executive Group Chef, with chefs from the Principal Hayley Chef Academy, at The St Johns Hotel, Solihull.

The St Johns Hotel in Solihull welcomed some of the brightest chefs in the country when it hosted the British Culinary Federation Awards.

Tops chefs and catering industry giants took part in the glittering awards evening, which recognises chefs and people from within the industry for their outstanding contribution to the culinary art.

The hotel, which is part of the Principal Hayley group, engaged the services of its young chefs from the Principal Hayley Chef Academy to prepare the gourmet feast for the 140 guests. Their talents were overseen by Bruce McDowell, Group Executive Chef.

Darren McGhee, General Manager at the four-star hotel in Warwick Road, said not only was it a coup for the hotel to host such a prominent event, but it was a great opportunity for its young chefs to cook for some of the best in the business.

“They rose to the challenge of preparing dinner for some of the most talented chefs in the country and did a superb job, showcasing their expertise in The St Johns kitchens,” said Darren.

“Our young chefs did us proud and the reaction we had from our guests suggests that they all have a bright future themselves in the industry.”

The chefs prepared a delicious menu of poached Sand Hutton asparagus with Scotch egg and chervil essence; roasted Cornish mackerel with beetroot purée and beetroot pearls; Blytheburgh pork, roasted fillet and crispy belly with sautéed cabbage, boulangère potatoes; English apple crisps, sorbet, crumble and tart; selection of British cheeses; and homemade macaroons.

Thanking The St Johns Hotel, BCF chairman Jim Eaves said: “It is great to see young chefs getting such a good training within the industry. Working on such a prestigious event will give the young chefs confidence in cooking for a difficult audience.”

Seven awards were presented during the evening. The Johnnie Bora award, given to the most outstanding young chef under the age of 25, went to Kristian Curtis of Simpsons restaurant in Birmingham. This former BCF Young Chef of the Year was recognised for his efforts in Lyon at the Bocuse d’Or competition, where he won the best commis chef in the world title.

The Ken Fraser MBE Memorial Award, named after former naval chef and college lecturer Ken Fraser, was presented to Gary Kilminster for his work at Bournemouth & Poole College. The college was named in the top 20 in the world by World Association of Chef’s Societies, the only one in the UK to be recognised.

The Louis Cipolla Award, which recognises an outstanding contribution to the profession from a chef within the BCF, was given to Andrew Ditchfield, the executive pastry chef at the House of Commons for his work within the BCF National Culinary Team and his work with the Junior team.

The Aubrey Allen Award was presented to Adam Bennett, head chef at Simpsons Restaurant in Birmingham. Adam was the UK entrant in the Bocuse d’Or Competition where he achieved fourth place, the highest place attained by a UK entrant. Adam was only a few points from a top three place.

The Robert J Smith Award went to Matt Owens, executive pastry chef at Zuidam UK, to recognise his work with the junior National Culinary Team since 2005.

The British Culinary Federation Special Award was presented to David Bentley of Town and Country Fine Foods for his continued support of the BCF, chefs and industry events.

The Chairman’s Award was presented to Adam Bennett of Simpsons Restaurant, Birmingham, to Adam to recognise his achievements in the Bocuse d’Or Competition.

The ceremony took place on May 5.