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Young Chef Young Waiter - London Wins Both

08/10/2004, By

Reader Rating: 2.8 from 676 votes

Nathan Green aged 22 from Thyme in Clapham, London, and Nicolas Mori aged 24 of The Greenhouse in Mayfair, yesterday evening scooped the top prizes in the UK's favourite competition for the hospitality industry, to become Young Chef 2004 and Young Waiter 2004, respectively.

The Rt Hon Richard Caborn PC, MP, bestowed these accolades on Nathan and Nicolas at a dinner in the House of Commons, hosted by the Minister for Sport and Tourism, in front of an audience of top names in the hospitality industry.

The Young Chef and Young Waiter 2004 each win a 2,000 cash prize and a week's study trip to Cuba. Second prize is 1,000 cash and a weekend for two at Pennyhill Park in Surrey. Third prize winners will receive 500 cash plus 500 worth of catering equipment from Hansens.

The Young Chef Young Waiter competition, now in its 20th year, is organised by The Restaurant Association in partnership with American Express and the Savoy Educational Trust, the hospitality industry's leading independent charitable trust.

The competition aims to encourage young people by giving them a platform to demonstrate their cooking and waiting skills. It is open to all professional chefs and waiters 25 and under on 31 December, working full-time in any sector of the hospitality industry.

The 16 finalists were selected from regional heats, which took place in Oxford and St Helens a month ago, and as part of their prize they have all been taken to France by Champagne Louis Roederer and given the unique opportunity of visiting the company's private estate and cellars in Reims.

Nathan and Nicolas proved worthy winners at the National Finals, which took place earlier in the day at Westminster Kingsway College. In front of a panel of expert judges a total of eight young waiters served amuse-bouche and then three course meals cooked by the eight chef finalists, and demonstrated their service expertise to industry luminaries and media judges.

The starter was free interpretation and the main course was their own recipe squab pigeon, with a dessert prepared from a box of surprise ingredients (which contained a selection of fruits, nuts, chocolate and armagnac), given out just before the start of the cook off. Annie Schwab, MBE, of Winteringham Fields and chef Philip Howard of The Square, chairs of the panels of judges, commented that the standard was consistently high: "The standard was good overall with great use of seasonal produce."

Said Howard, "There was great respect for the ingredients, and the flavours were delicious, simple and classical, rather than mindless innovation for the sake of innovation." Commenting of the service side of the competition, Annie Schwab said: " Skills-wise they all shone through and were technically correct. We had some brilliantly friendly warm service, which shows they are passionate about their career. The lunch guests enjoyed being served by all of them and we obviously have a new generation of talented young chefs and waiters poised for stardom."

"The food preparation and service side of the hospitality industry provides a highly satisfying and often very lucrative career. If you intend to succeed you need to have the right temperament, and be able to work as part of a team. Nathan and Nicolas demonstrated today that they can do this, and judging by the standard of the other finalists, we have real talent here in the UK." They add.

Richard Caborn, said: " The hospitality industry is one of the UK's biggest employment sectors, employing 1.8 million people and representing some seven per cent of the total UK workforce. Also, our tourism profile benefits if visitors experience a high standard when eating out here. Competitions like this highlight the fundamental skills required by young professionals if they are to succeed in the hospitality industry. Younger members of the profession can also see the rewards available for those prepared to work hard and learn their skills thoroughly. Congratulations to the winners and all the finalists have done well to reach this stage of the competition."

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