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Compass celebrates an impressive medal haul at Salon Culinaire in Birmingham


Compass Group UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest food and support services provider, is celebrating the amazing achievements of its chefs at Salon Culinaire last week, where they scooped a raft of medals. 

Taking place alongside The Foodservice Show and The Professional Kitchen Show at the NEC, Birmingham on 22-23 January, Salon Culinaire is the UK’s largest and most prestigious chef competition in 2019, showcasing the amazing skills and talent within the industry.

Over 20 chefs from across Compass came together to showcase their talents and skills, giving an insight into the exceptional standards and quality of food that is served daily across the business. This year saw an uplift in new Compass chefs entering for the first time, giving a greater representation from across the group including chefs from Eurest, ESS, Levy Leisure, Chartwells and Restaurant Associates (RA).

Between them, the chefs scooped over 20 awards, including 1 Gold, 4 Silver, 7 Bronze, 4 Merit Awards plus 4 ‘Best in Class Awards’ and an incredible ‘Best in Show Overall’.  

Award highlights

  • Neil Mulhearn, Head Chef, Eurest won Gold ‘Best in Class’ for the Main Course Plate category. Neil produced three different individual main course plates of his choice, and had to consider the balance and composition of the dish whilst using the appropriate cuts and cooking methods when presenting. The judging panel were impressed with Neil’s stunning mains which comprised a pistachio stuffed neck of lamb, a corn stuffed chicken and a superb cod loin.
  • Neil was also recognised with a special award for ‘Best Overall Exhibit Larder’ category across the entire show.
  • James Larkins, Group Executive Chef, Chartwells took home double silver and a ‘Best in Class’ award, whilst Simon Coulter, Head Chef, ESS and Adam Lestrelle, Head Chef, Levy Leisure, took home Bronze medals in the ‘Main Course Plate’ category for their respective dishes. 
  • Simon Coulter, Head Chef, ESS also scooped a Bronze ‘Best in Class’ in the Starter Plates category with Phil Henson, Sous Chef, ESS taking a Merit in the same category.
  • Agata Switali, Apprentice Commis Chef, Eurest won a Silver in the live skills theatre whilst Tarisa Reid, Chef de Partie, RA London won Silver ‘Best in Class’ award in the Oriental Dish category with her sesame seared scallops, shitake & edamame soba noodles with demi dashi sauce, stir fried green vegetables, miso glazed aubergine and squid ink cracker.

Nick Vadis, Culinary Director at Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: 

“Events like Salon Culinaire offer an amazing environment for our chefs to cook in, enabling them to showcase their culinary expertise, techniques and talent whilst competing against much respected peers. Whether chefs are new to competitions or a seasoned professional, learnings from such events are invaluable and encourage our chefs to hone and refine their skills within their own kitchens. I am really proud of all our chefs who competed, and did a great job of demonstrating the breadth and depth of culinary skills and talent that we have within the Compass family.”   

Neil Mulhearn, Head Chef, Eurest added:

“It’s always a great honour to be able to compete against the best chefs in the industry and I’m thrilled on all counts. Two medals plus the recognition of Best in Class and Best in Show - I’m truly elated! As a chef you acknowledge that you cannot do this alone and I couldn’t have asked for a stronger support base in Jamie Gibbs, Nick Vadis and the rest of this amazingly, talented Compass team who have all been there for me and for each other. This is pure teamwork at its very best!”

Tarisa Reid, Chef de Partie, RA London enthused:

"Asian food is one of my favourites to cook. I knew my dish was rich in flavour and had a good chance of winning if I completed everything as I had practiced. I was very nervous at the start with everyone watching, but I soon got into my comfort zone and absolutely loved every minute of it! It goes without saying that I’m now really looking forward to my next competition."




We’re always looking to share your great stories from around our businesses. If you’re part of the Compass family, why not share your stories with our Communications team? They would love to hear from you and can be contacted on uk.communications@compass-group.co.uk

Pictured on the left is Neil Mulhearn, Head Chef, Eurest accepting his award from Salon Culinaire Chef-Director, Steve Munkley.