The 2023 Compass Group UK & Ireland Apprentice Chef competition winner, Jess Miller led a brigade of chefs at Watford FC, to cook a stunning three course dinner for around 60 VIP guests.
Earlier this month, Jess, who is an Apprentice Chef de Partie for Chartwells Independent, took the crown of Apprentice Chef of the Year - beating off fierce competition from around the Compass business, to take home the trophy when the final took place in Compass HQ, in Chertsey. The journey to winning the final included developing and submitting menus and concepts taking into consideration sustainability, seasonality and origin of ingredients, as well as culinary skill.
The dinner event is the conclusion of the 2023 competition which saw Jess create her winning menu of Gin and Juniper cured Trout, Wasabi and Cucumber Emulsion and a Nori Dust starter; Sous-vide Beef fillet with an herb crumb, Pulled Banana Skin, Jerusalem artichoke puree, tenderstem broccoli and a red wine jus. For dessert she created a stunning Guinness Chocolate Tart, salt and vinegar crisps with vanilla ice cream.
Jagdeep Soor, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Multicultural Apprenticeship Alliance; Kris Hall, Founder of The Burnt Chef Project; and Amanda Scott, Director of Talent, Learning, Diversity and Inclusion at Compass Group UK & Ireland came together at the event to discuss the importance of apprenticeships, how to nurture talent and the impact programmes have on reducing the skills gap.
Jess Miller commented: “The whole experience has been brilliant, and I have learnt and developed my skills throughout. Tonight, has been the conclusion of all my hard work to date and I am so pleased with how my dishes have been received - big thanks go to the other chefs, it’s been great to work in a team together.”
Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships & Early Careers, Compass Group UK & Ireland, commented: “This competition is important to our business and the apprentices that we recruit. It gives them an opportunity to show off their talent, but also to learn and work as a team – going through the stages of the competition, which then culminates in this stand out event. Our apprentice brigade of chefs have done so well, the food was amazing, the team spirit really shone through and their skills and talent speak for themselves.”
Jagdeep Soor, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Multicultural Apprenticeship Alliance said: “Apprenticeships are a way to improve the current economic climate and ease the cost of living by offering the opportunity to ‘earn while learning’. It is great working with organisations like Compass Group UK and I, who have ED&I, learning and development and social mobility at the heart of everything they do – they are trailblazing in terms of nurturing their people and delivering on this agenda, through their size and scale which creates positive impact. Events like these are important to celebrate success and develop the mentors and role models of the future. Working in collaboration with Compass Group UK as patrons of the Multicultural Apprenticeship Alliance will elevate our objective to improve equity, diversity and inclusion for marginalised communities.”
Jess was supported by Forward with Marcus Wareing chefs Amy Duthie also of Chartwells Independent, as well as Sam Kent of Restaurant Associates and Leanne Turk, Foodbuy UK.
The other apprentice chefs who took part in the competition supported her at the event. They were:
- Cameron Coleman – Professional Cookery Apprentice, Levy UK + Ireland
- Mohamed Elhrabi – Apprentice Commis Chef, ESS
- Cian Evans – Apprentice Chef de Partie, Levy UK + Ireland
- Diana Onyeka – Apprentice Commis Chef, Levy UK + Ireland
- Laura Smith – Senior Production Chef Apprentice, Chartwells
- Connor Thomas – Apprentice Commis Chef, Levy UK + Ireland
- Cameron Tullis – Professional Cookery Apprentice, Levy UK + Ireland
The culinary competition was judged by celebrity Chef, Bryn Williams; Compass Group UK & Ireland Culinary Director, Nick Vadis; Foodbuy’s Leanne Turk, plus Culinary Academy Vice Principal at HIT Training, Mark Belford.