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Compass Group UK & Ireland chefs win at Craft Guild of Chef Awards


Compass Group UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest food and support services firm, is celebrating after winning three culinary awards at the prestigious Craft Guild of Chef Awards on Wednesday, June 1 during a glittering ceremony at Lancaster London Hotel.

Three chefs from across the business were recognised with top accolades: Robert Kennedy, Executive chef at Sandhurst Military College, who won Competition Chef; Eleanor De Maria, from Eurest won Apprentice Chef; and James Buckley, Executive Chef at ExCeL London Hospitality, a partnership between ExCeL London and Levy Restaurants UK, was named the Banqueting and Event chef winner.

Nick Vadis, Culinary Director at Compass Group UK & Ireland and member of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: “The Craft Guild of Chef Awards is an exceptional ceremony which recognises outstanding talent across our industry. I am delighted for all three of our chefs who won awards during the event as it highlights the professionalism, hard work and excellence of our chefs, who are at the heart of our business.”

Robert Kennedy, winner of the Competition Chef award said: “I am honoured to have won the award for Competition Chef at the Craft Guild of Chef Awards. The ceremony recognises the hard work and passion chefs from across the industry put into their work and it’s great to have received such great acknowledgement.”

Eleanor De Maria, winner of the Apprentice Chef category added: “I started my apprentice in 2012 and am now working on my level 3 apprenticeship. I have received fantastic support at Compass and entering the industry as an apprentice has introduced me to so many different parts of the business. I absolutely love cooking and would never have imagined to have learnt so much over the past three years. I am so proud to have won this award.”

James Buckley, Banqueting / Event Chef Award Winner concluded: “I am so honoured to receive this award. I work with an incredible team at ExCeL London and enjoy the variety of working at such a high profile venue. Whatever the size of the event, we always work to produce the most high quality and excellent food. A huge amount of planning goes into each event and I am delighted this has been recognised.”

Established in 1965 as a Guild of the Cookery and Food Association, the Craft Guild of Chefs has developed into the leading Chefs’ Association in the UK and has many members worldwide. The annual event, now in its 23rd year, recognises the greatest culinary talent across the industry whether they work in a village pub, fine dining restaurant, city, university or in contract catering. They might develop products for national retailers or serve British soldiers.

The winners:

Apprentice Chef Award Winner – Eleanor De Maria
Eleanor started her career as an apprentice at Chelsea FC in 2012, she was then selected to work alongside Jason Atherton on a number of events. Since then, Eleanor has completed her apprenticeship, been promoted to a new role at the Compass Group Innovation Centre and is now embarking on an advanced apprenticeship Level 3. Overall, Eleanor has excelled in culinary competitions, supported events and helped raise awareness to other young people about the opportunities within the catering industry. Eleanor has shown her culinary talents during the Brit Awards, the 50 years’ celebration of BT Tower and Feeding Britain’s Future. In 2015, she won a People First regional award for intermediate Apprentice Hospitality.

Banqueting / Event Chef Award Winner – James Buckley
As Executive chef at ExCeL London Hospitality, James can head up a brigade of 60 plus chefs at a large event. James controls all costs, menu development, standards and production for the site. Over 95% of all food served is made from scratch. James is hugely supportive of apprentices from challenging backgrounds and gets out to local schools to encourage youngsters to get involved in the food service industry. He often takes is team on culinary tours in London, challenging them to experience new flavours and combinations.

Competition Chef Award – Robert Kennedy
As Executive Chef of Sandhurst Military Academy, Rob Kennedy is responsible for feeding the cadets that pass through the college, as well as visitors from foreign governments and the members of the royal family who are either commander in chief or honorary figure heads at the regiment. Alongside this, Rob has been a key player in the competition arena for 16 years. Highlights include winning Olympic medals, as well as Olympic Gold in 2012 in Erfut and Culinary World Cup medals as part of the National Team. He has also played a pivotal role in supporting the Nestle Toque D’Or competition over the last three years travelling the length of the country to give advice and present masterclasses to the colleges for the regional heats. He has also supported the Craft Guild of Chefs over the last ten years.


For more information contact:
UK Communications Team
Compass Group UK & Ireland
01895 554 999

James Buckley, Executive Chef at ExCeL London Hospitality