Recently Robert Welch designs has been proud to support the Craft Guild of Chefs annual Graduate Awards. An exam created to test and improve the skills which chefs have learnt at college and in their early careers, and help take them to the next level.

Five chefs passed the Kitchen Graduate Award with Amber Francis from The Ritz taking the Highest Achiever prize. Also achieving the pass mark was Erin Jackson Yates from Wiltons, Eleanor De Maria who works at Compass House, Andre Rhone from The Bingham and Aaron Middleton who works at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

Kacey Bignell from The Mandarin Oriental Hotel was awarded the Highest Achiever Award in the inaugural Pastry Graduate Exam with Rita Souto from Park Lane Hilton and Fiona Bailey from The Dragon also making the grade.

To pass the exam chefs had to achieve a mark of 85% or above in a series of challenges. This included a multiple choice paper test, a pork belly butchery task, poaching lobster and then creating Lobster Newburg, roasting pork, making a classic Gateaux Fraisier and planning and cooking their own dish using a mystery basket of ingredients.

Speaking after the exam, chair of examiners, Russell Bateman, said “The standard in the final exam has gone to another level from the heats and it was fantastic to see growth and development in the chefs. Whether they achieve the pass mark or not, entering the Graduate Awards is only going to make young chefs stronger. These will be the head chefs of the future, opening their own restaurants or running hotel kitchens. Around the world, chefs are going back to basics and focusing on culinary skills and classic dishes and this is something the Graduate Awards has been doing for the last 14 years so I’m very proud to be involved.”

Robert Welch’s own Head of Hospitality Sarah Egan said: “it’s really important for us to support the industry to help nurture the future and maintain essential skills. We were really pleased to be able to support this competition and thrilled the chefs enjoyed receiving their prize knives.”