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Compass Chefs Shine at Annual Cooking Competition


Compass Group UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest food and support services firm, celebrated its 20th annual Chef of the Year competition last week at The Restaurant Show, at Olympia in London.

Chefs from across the business applied to take part in the competition across three categories – Apprentice, Junior and Senior Chef of the year.

The judging panel was made up of prestigious chefs including celebrity chef, Brian Turner CBE; Peter Griffiths MBE, President of the British Culinary Federation; Chris Tanner – one of the founding partners of the Tanners Restaurant; Simon Hulstone, Chef Proprietor of the 1* Michelin The Elephant restaurant; Omero Gallucci, Chef Consultant; Nathan Aldous, Lead Pastry Chef for Team England; and last year’s Senior Chef of the Year winner, Daniel Lines, Restaurant Associates.

In the senior competition, the 10 chefs were given just two hours to cook four courses, including a sustainable fish course and a vegan or vegetarian starter. Chris Macleod from ESS won the gold award, with Andy Bunting from Restaurant Associates taking silver and James Newton from Chartwells walking away with bronze.

The junior event celebrates young talent and saw 10 competitors cook three courses in one and a half hours, which also had to include a vegan or vegetarian starter. Gold was won by Sam Kent, Restaurant Associates, Sunny Patel from Chartwells secured silver and Katie Smith from ESS took third place.

Ten apprentices took part in the apprentice category – they were given forty minutes to cook one dish. Miranda Cook from Restaurant Associates won the gold award, while Nathan Racey from Levy UK won silver and Natasha Smith from Levy UK secured the bronze.

Nick Vadis, Culinary Director for Compass Group UK & Ireland said: “I’m always so impressed by the high standard of cooking – it’s fantastic to see the skills both our apprentices and junior chefs have learnt and are learning. It’s also really exciting to see our senior chefs showcase their talent. Competitions like this are a great way for chefs to experiment, try new things and show their creativity and we’ve seen this through some fantastic dishes this year. A big congratulations to all those who competed and to those who took home medals.”

Chris Macleod, Chef Manager, ESS, winner of Senior Chef of the Year said of his win: “I am absolutely overwhelmed to have won, it is something I have dreamt about for a long time. I have competed in the senior chef competition on two previous occasions and to finally win on the third attempt means the world to me. I have recently become a father, and the added motivation and support I have received from my family has been amazing. I worked hard to create a menu that was inspiring and met the brief from the judges, whilst also thinking about our local suppliers and provenance.”

Sam Kent, Sous Chef, Restaurant Associates, winner of the Junior Chef of the Year commented: “I’m really proud of myself and everyone who helped me through the competition. I have learnt so much in doing it and am thankful for the support I had from my Head Chef. I tried to make my menu as seasonal as possible and use the ingredients as best I could and I’m so happy to walk away a winner!”

Miranda Cook, Apprentice, Restaurant Associates, winner of the Apprentice Chef of the Year added: “It feels absolutely amazing to have won. I entered the competition to challenge myself and to see how far I have come since starting my apprenticeship – this is the best feeling ever.”

As well as the status of taking the gold award in their categories, the junior and senior category winners will now travel overseas on a culinary journey to explore and experience culinary trends.



Gold Award Winner

Silver Award Winner

Bronze Award Winner


Chris Macleod


Andy Bunting

Restaurant Associates

James Newton



Sam Kent

Restaurant Associates

Sunny Patel


Katy Smith



Miranda Cook

Restaurant Associates

Nathan Racey

Levy UK

Natasha Smith

Levy UK



Winners photo from left to right: Miranda Cook - Apprentice Chef of the Year, Chris Macleod - Senior Chef of the Year, Sam Kent - Junior Chef of the Year and Nick Vadis, Culinary Director for Compass Group UK & Ireland