Judges

Michael Caines MBE

Michael Caines

 Michael Caines MBE

Michael CainesOne of Britatin’s highest profile chefs, Michael Caines opened Lympstone Manor, situated on the banks of the river Exe at Lympstone in Devon, in the spring of 2017.  Purchased in 2015, this beautiful Georgian country house has undergone complete renovation to create a beautiful 21-bedroom hotel and restaurant, fulfilling a lifelong ambition of Michael’s to open his own country house hotel!

Prior to this, Michael was the Executive Chef at the prestigious 2-star Michelin country house hotel, Gidleigh Park, for over 21 years.  In partnership with hotelier Andrew Brownsword, Michael also created a group of individual boutique ABode hotels throughout the United Kingdom, each with a Michael Caines Restaurant, Michael Caines Champagne and Cocktail Bar, MC Café Bar, and MC Boutique and/or MC Tavern.

During 2015, Michael also launched his first restaurant venture outside of the UK.  Pearls by Michael Caines is located at the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel in Abu Dhabi.  Working with the owners of Palé Hall Hotel at Llandderfel in Gwynedd he also opened a new fine dining restaurant in September 2016.

Michael attended Exeter Catering College followed by three years under his mentor Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire, before moving to France for a further couple of years, learning his profession under the guidance of such superstar chefs as the late Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu and Joël Robuchon in Paris.

Michael returned to Britain in 1994 to take up the position of Head Chef at Gidleigh Park. Gidleigh’s restaurant was already rated amongst the most prestigious in the country so the position represented a massive challenge and opportunity.

With his classical French training in some of the finest restaurants in the world, and utilising the best and freshest local produce and products from the West Country, Michael has created a style that is uniquely his own, at once classic yet also highly innovative, a fact recognised with the award of a second Michelin star in 1999 which he retained throughout his time at Gidleigh Park. In 2001 he won Chef of the Year at the prestigious Cateys Awards.

Michael founded Michael Caines Restaurants Ltd in 1999 and the next year opened his first signature restaurant Michael Caines at The Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter.  Since 2011, Michael has provided food and hospitality for the Williams F1 Team during race weekends.

Michael is also a consultant to Kentisbury Grange in North Devon and The Townhouse, Oswestry.

“This competition highlights the outstanding talents of chefs and home cooks across the South West and their commitment to using the best ingredients that the region has to offer.  I am looking for someone who can demonstrate knowledge and skill in devising and preparing memorable dishes with real flair.” 

Paul Ainsworth

Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 Paul Ainsworth at Number 6

Paul AinsworthA classically trained chef, Paul Ainsworth served his apprenticeship working under some of the most respected figures of the contemporary era.

Born in Southampton in 1979, Paul studied catering and hospitality at Southampton City College before following the lights to London’s restaurant trade. From 1998, he spent two years with Gary Rhodes at Rhodes in the Square, and then three years with Gordon Ramsay working at Royal Hospital Road. Both were completely different from each other but it was here his passion for food and flavour really began.

In 2003, Paul moved to the original Petrus site to work for Marcus Wareing for three years before finishing his time in London at the Berkeley Hotel with Marcus.  After eight years of living in the city and working 18-hour days, a pivotal moment in Paul’s career occurred in 2006 when he opened Number 6 in Padstow.  After taking sole occupancy in 2009, he reworked the menu around the ethos it holds today: quality ingredients, often humble in nature, used to create meals with smooth clean flavours that offer great value for money.

Paul knows he is really lucky to have some of the best produce available on his doorstep. Moving to Cornwall proved to him that the only way to cook is with local, seasonal produce, which is reflected in every dish he produces.

In May 2010 Paul decided to start on a new venture: Rojano’s in the Square, an Italian style restaurant positioned in a great location just off the harbour in Padstow.  Paul has a real passion for Italian food so it was very exciting for him to be able to create brand new menus. Paul’s aim regarding the style of Rojano’s is affordable Italian comfort food, with the emphasis always on taste and quality.

In 2011, Paul got the call to appear on the BBC2 TV series Great British Menu. Competing against some of the nation’s top chefs was an amazing experience, and he was so pleased to win the regional heats and represent the South West.  In the final week, Paul’s dessert ‘Taste of the Fairground’ was chosen to be served to 100 guests at a banquet at London’s Leadenhall Market. The Fishermen’s Mission in Penzance and The RNLI in Padstow inspired his menu for the banquet, and representatives from the organisations were invited to attend as guests of honour.

Paul has recently expanded his business further with the purchase of the 18th century Padstow Townhouse which, after renovation work, is now open for guest accommodation.

 

Stephane Delourme

Seafood RestaurantThe Seafood Restaurant, Padstow

 

Stephane DelourmeStephane Delourme spent his childhood between Brittany and Paris and developed a love for cooking at a young age inspired by his uncle’s travels around the world, returning with new dishes and stories from his adventures.

Against his father’s wishes, Stephane started an apprenticeship at the age of 16 at two Michelin starred Sully D’ Auteuil, before moving on to Le Vieux Berlin which specialised in game. His keen interest to learn a new language led him to England in 1989 where he worked in London’s Roof Restaurant at the Hilton on Park Lane. Stephane was also instrumental in the opening of some of London’s most distinguished restaurants, working alongside leading chefs of the time including Michael Croft at Mirabelle and Martin Webb at Quaglino’s.

In 1994, Stephane returned to France where he worked at Michelin-starred restaurant Prunier in Paris for two years. His career has taken him around the globe on the world’s most famous cruise liner, the QE2, as well as to Dublin where he worked with Patrick Guilbaud in his self-named two Michelin-starred restaurant.

After years of travelling around the world, Stephane and his wife made the decision to move to Cornwall to settle down. After just 6 months working with Rick Stein, Stephane was promoted to head chef at The Seafood Restaurant where he has remained for over 16 years. Working closely with Rick, Stephane helps to develop new menus and leads the restaurant team which has grown from 8 to 30 in the last decade.

His passion for cooking is matched by a love of the fresh Cornish produce that is available to him, as well as the great local suppliers.

Stephane is a keen marathon runner and ran seven in one summer in 2014 to raise money for local charities. When not in the kitchen he can be found relaxing in St. Issey with his wife and three daughters.

Mark Dodson

Masons Arms logoChef Proprietor, The Masons Arms, Knowstone

 

 

Mark Dodson

Having spent 12 years at the three Michelin starred The Waterside Inn, Bray as Michel Roux’s Head Chef and 3 years as Executive Chef at Cliveden, Taplow, Mark decided to spread his wings to Devon. He and his wife Sarah bought the 13th Century Masons Arms, Knowstone in 2005 and the accolades have followed, including a Michelin Star, first awarded in 2006, six months after opening and retained ever since.

In 2008 the Masons Arms was named as North Devon’s Best Restaurant, in September 2009 Michelin chose it to be it’s 2010 Pub of the Year and in 2011 it was named as North Devon’s Best Pub. 10 years on the pub has gone from strength to strength and now with the help of the internet has become a global local!

In early 2016, the Masons Arms was named in 10th position in the list of the UK’s Top 50 Gastropubs.

 

Peter Gorton

 Peter Gorton logoPeter Gorton

 

Peter GortonPeter is an award winning Masterchef of Great Britain and one of Devon’s finest chefs. He began his career in 1980 at the age of 16 and trained at some of the best restaurants in Great Britain and around the world. He then became the chef/proprietor of the Carved Angel restaurants and cafés in Exeter, Taunton and Dartmouth and The Horn of Plenty in Devon which he sold in 2010.

Later that year, Peter opened Gorton’s restaurant in Tavistock.  This was sold in 2014 to enable Peter to focus on his long-term ambition, to train young chefs of the future.  Peter has opened a hospitality academy in Plymouth and also runs a consultancy business working with hotels and restaurants around the country and overseas.

Peter lives in Devon with his wife and two children, and has become one of the best known and well regarded chefs with years of Michelin star experience.

Look out for Peter and the photographer Adrian Oaks book ‘Devon Food Heroes’, it includes lovely recipes and stunning images of our wonderful Devon food producers featured in the book.  Peter has since published another recipe book entitled “An invitation to cook.”

What I am looking for is enthusiasm and passion not only about cooking but also about using the wonderful produce that we have in the West Country.  Another thing I want to see is that gleam in the eye!!”  

Neil Haydock

Watergate Bay Hotel
Watergate Bay Hotel

Neil HaydockIt’s fair to say that Watergate Bay Hotel’s Executive Chef Neil Haydock has always been obsessed with food. Growing up in rural Lancashire, his grandfather taught him a love of traditional countryside foods, from game to foraged wild ingredients, and his decision to become a chef was made very early.

Throughout his career, Neil has retained this passion for local, seasonal foods; he has always sought small-scale local artisan producers to give his menus a real sense of place.

Neil’s experience includes senior roles at a number of highly regarded restaurants, including the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados, Terence Conran’s Bluebird in London and most recently, as Executive Chef at Fifteen Cornwall. Now controlling The hotel’s Brasserie, The Living Space, The Beach Hut and the newest addition to the hotel, Zacary’s restaurant, Neil is building on Watergate Bay’s reputation as an outstanding food destination, creating diverse, contemporary menus that showcase the very best of Cornwall’s produce while taking inspiration from around the world.

 

Darrin Hosegrove

Ashburton Cookery School

 Ashburton Cookery School

 

Darrin HosegroveDarrin began his career at Gidleigh Park, working under the guidance of Michelin-starred chef Shaun Hill. He has worked in many acclaimed fine dining restaurants in the UK and also held positions as a Development Chef and College Lecturer before joining the Ashburton Cookery School as Chef Director in 2004.

Darrin is responsible for the development and delivery of courses at the Cookery School and the Ashburton Chefs’ Academy and, since it’s opening in 2015, at the school’s second venue in Halifax, West Yorkshire.  Darrin has a passion for sharing his knowledge with ambitious students and is very keen to use an abundance of local suppliers and highlight what is great about South West produce.

Simon Hulstone

Elephant Restaurant

 The Elephant Restaurant


Winner of South West Chef of the Year (Professional class) 2005

Simon HulstoneSimon’s culinary career started early in his life.  By his early teens he already had several World Junior titles to his name and he has been adding to the list ever since, with a myriad of awards, including the Roux scholarship for young chefs in 2003 and the National Chef of the Year award in 2008.

Before moving to Torquay, Simon had been perfecting his culinary technique working for highly regarded, Michelin starred restaurants throughout Europe where he was mentored by some of the world’s most respected chefs.

Since becoming head chef at The Elephant, Simon has brought his extensive influence of traditional and world cuisine to Torbay, putting the English Riviera on the culinary map.  The Elephant was awarded a Michelin star in 2006 which it maintains today.

2015 has seen expansion of Simon’s business with the opening of Burridges Tea Room and The Kennel hot dog restaurant, both in Torquay.

Simon became a Roux Scholar in 2003.  He represented the UK in the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most challenging and prestigious culinary contest, for the second time in 2011.  He is captain of the British team in the Culinary Olympics and was also captain of the English Culinary Team at the Culinary World Cup in 2010.  Simon is the only British chef to win gold at the World Chef Championship in France.  In August 2011, Simon won the British Airways’ Great Britons competition and worked with Heston Blumenthal to create a menu for British Airways passengers.

Spring 2015 saw the launch of a second venture by Simon and the Elephant Restaurant team with the opening of Burridges Tea Room on Torquay’s harbourside.

Hywel Jones

  Lucknam Park

Hywel JonesHywel Jones is Executive Chef for The Park Michelin-starred restaurant and The Brasserie at Lucknam Park, near Bath. Since his appointment in 2004, Hywel has successfully raised the standards of the cuisine to a level that has resulted in numerous accolades including a Michelin Star.

Hywel started his career with David Nichols at The Royal Garden and then moved on to work as Chef de Partie in two Michelin 3-star establishments; Chez Nico at 90 and Marco Pierre White.  He then furthered his skills as junior Sous Chef at Michelin starred Le Souffle.  From there he went onto earn his first Michelin Star at Foliage restaurant at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park where he was Head Chef for five years.  Prior to his move to Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, he was executive Chef at Pharmacy Restaurant in Notting Hill.

Awarded Hotel Chef of the Year at the 2007 Hotel Catey Awards, Hywel has created superb menus in both the Michelin starred Park Restaurant and more recently in the stylish and contemporary Brasserie.  Where possible, Hywel uses locally sourced ingredients including micro salads, vegetables and herbs fromLucknamPark’s own kitchen garden.  He has built a personal relationship with his local suppliers ensuring high quality ingredients that are always reflective of the season.

Matt Mason

Jack in the Green 

The Jack in the Green

Winner of South West Chef of the Year (Professional class) 2007

Matthew MasonMatthew Mason is the Head Chef of The Jack in the Green at Rockbeare near Exeter.

Born and brought up in Devon during the 1970′s, Matthew’s desire for culinary training began with the self-sufficiency of his parents’ allotment. This provided a valuable lesson which is still evident today in his philosophy of cooking – making full use of Devon’s fine larder and the best seasonal produce.

After serving his apprenticeship under the tutorage of Shaun Hill at Gidleigh Park, Matthew took over the kitchens of the Jack in 1995. A year later, the Jack became one of the first pubs to achieve 2 AA rosettes; an award that it has maintained ever since.

In February 2011, the Jack was voted 5th in the UK’s 50 Top Gastropubs and in October, 60th in the UK’s Top 100 Restaurants. The pub was also the winner of The Western Morning News Reader’s ‘Favourite Restaurant’ Award in November 2011.

Matthew’s driving ambition is that his passion for good food comes through in the dishes the kitchen prepares and serves every day. This same philosophy has been extended to help teach the children of West Hill Primary School about freshness, food miles and seasonality in a partnership that began in 2007.

That same year Matthew won the Professional Class in the South West Chef of the Year and also ‘Devon Chef of the Year’ voted for by the readers of Devon Life. Amongst many other accolades, in 2010 Matthew joined an illustrious few by being invited into the Master Chefs of Great Britain.

In February 2016, the Jack in the Green published its first cook book incorporating Matt’s recipes and much local produce!

Nathan Outlaw

Nathan Outlaw

Nathan Outlaw

Nathan Outlaw was introduced to the professional kitchen by his father at the age of 8 when he was allowed to flip toast for the breakfast service! He attended Thanet Technical College in Kent and his first job was at the Intercontinental – Hyde Park Corner, fine tuning his skills under the supervision of the late Peter Kromberg.

 Having worked for several esteemed chefs, Nathan eventually found his way to Rick Stein at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow where his passion for fish cookery was ignited.

In 2003, Nathan opened his first restaurant, The Black Pig in Rock and within a year was awarded his first Michelin star.  Nathan was offered the dining room at the Marina Hotel in Fowey and it was at this point that Restuarant Nathan Outlaw was born.

In May 2009, Nathan opened the second of his restaurants, Nathan Outlaw Seafood & Grill at the St Enodoc Hotel in Rock (now re-named Outlaw’s at St Enodoc Hotel), which brought a casual dining arm to his business.

In December 2009, Nathan decided to move the fine dining enterprise, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, to Rock too where it went on to gain 2 Michelin stars and was placed 3rd in the Good Food Guide’s Top 100 Restaurants in the UK.

In October 2012, Nathan opened his first London restaurant, Outlaw’s at The Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge which, within a year of opening, received a coveted Michelin star.

Nathan’s desire to bring simply cooked fish and seafood to the attention of everyone saw him open Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in the beautiful fishing village of Port Isaac, Cornwall in 2013 and, together with fellow chef, Paul Ripley and Sharps Brewery, launched the Mariner’s Pub in Rock in the summer of 2014.

In early 2015 Restaurant Nathan Outlaw was also relocated to Port Isaac where it is now housed in larger premises with outstanding views.

A staunch supporter of quality education for young chefs and front of house staff, and always keen to encourage young people into the hospitality industry, Nathan has partnered with Cornwall College to create Academy Nathan Outlaw.  Here talented young chefs are given extra guidance and opportunities to enrich their learning as a result of Nathan’s direct involvement in their education.

Nathan has appeared on BBC’s ‘Great British Menu’, winning the South West heat in 2012 and is a regular guest chef on ‘Saturday Kitchen’.  He also recently appeared in a television series called ‘Hook It, Cook It’ co-presenting with chef friend, Valentine Warner.

Nathan’s first book, ‘Nathan Outlaw’s British Seafood’ was published in May 2012, his second, ‘Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen’ was published in May 2014 and his third, ‘Everyday Seafood’ is due to be published in April 2016.

Nathan was delighted to be awarded the Chefs’ Chef of the Year award at the AA Hospitality Awards 2014-2015.

Rob Potter

Manor House Hotel

Executive Chef, Manor House Hotel, Castle Combe

Rob PotterGrowing up in the West Midlands, Rob knew from a young age he’d one day have a career in the kitchen. At secondary school, Food Technology was his favoured subject, giving Rob the chance to express his creative skills. He went on to continue his training at Walsall College, where after three years he’d obtained NVA level 3.

Rob was quick to take his skills in to the work place, and after college, secured a position as Commis Chef at The Bay Tree in Birmingham, under Michelin starred Head Chef Andy Waters, one of Rob’s most influential peers to this day.

Rob went on to work as Sous Chef at Lucknam Park a fine dining Michelin starred restaurant before moving to The Royal Oak Paley Street, working as right hand man to Dominic Chapman resuming the roll as Head Chef in Chapmans absence. The Royal Oak gave Rob the opportunity to develop his technique, and preferred style of cooking; as a true advocate for seasonal, locally sourced produce, Rob has a passion for serving fresh dishes, simply presentment yet technically prepared.

Rob returned to Lucknam Park as Head Chef working under Executive Chef Hywel Jones, gaining the opportunity to further his culinary skills and develop his style and presentation; Rob refers to Hywel as his ‘greatest mentor and creative influence’, and reflects his own work ethic in the value of Hywel’s mentoring and teaching.

Working alongside these great teachers and mentors, Rob gained his own unique style and confidence, not only in his food but on a management level which he is excited to bring to The Manor House, where he took the role of Executive Chef of The Bybrook Restaurant in early 2016.

Rob says he has “a dedicated focus to serving seasonal and classical food combinations” and his aim “is to create a relaxed fine-dining menu influenced by the seasons as well as being dictated by the beautiful British produce harvested from within the grounds of The Manor House.’’ He will serve the finest seasonal produce possible and prepare it with flare and distinctive flavours.

Rob also finds great importance and value in working closely with local and passionate suppliers who provide him with his ingredients.  His past experience working for Michelin starred restaurants has instilled a deep rooted awareness of the value of great produce.  This, coupled with his drive and ambition to create food his customers will love continues to stoke his never-ending ambition to create new dishes that will satisfy and surprise.

Chris and James Tanner

Barbican Kitchen  Barbican Kitchen and Kentish Hare The Kentish Hare 

Tanner BrothersIt was a childhood dream of The Tanner Brothers to own and operate their own establishment opening Tanners in Plymouth in 1999.  In 2008 Tanners was awarded the AA Restaurant of the Year for England.

The brothers opened the highly popular Barbican Kitchen brasserie in April 2006, within the Plymouth Gin Distillery.

Their backgrounds in the food world are synonymous with great restaurants in London, New York, France and Bath, with the Roux Brothers and Martin Blunos. For many years James was a regular on Ready Steady Cook, and is a regular chef on ITVs Lorraine & Saturday Kitchen.

In 2003 Chris & James filmed their own 15 part series, The Tanner Brothers. 2006 & 2007 saw the publication of their books on chocolate and ice-cream. These have gone on to be translated for 7 other countries. In October 2010 James published his first solo book, Take 5, which has been released throughout Europe and in the USA.

2014 has brought exciting new ventures for Chris and James.  Firstly they opened a collection of outlets in Looe in Cornwall, including Quayside Fresh, a farm shop, along with a fishmonger, butchery and street food outlet.  More recently, the brothers have sold Tanners Restaurant and have taken on The Kentish Hare family dining pub near Royal Tunbridge Wells in their home county of Kent.  Early in 2016, The Kentish Hare was named the Best Newcomer in the UK’s Top 50 Gastropubs, appearing at 33 in the list!

“We are looking for chefs dedicated to creating original dishes, bursting with flavour and with great attention to detail.  The South West now offers such an extensive range of wonderful ingredients and this competition recognises those who are able to select and put those ingredients to best use.” 

 

Seth Ward

Bidfood

 

Bidfood

Seth Ward

Born in South Africa in 1979, Seth began his love for cooking at a young age. Both his parents were very accomplished cooks who made creative and wholesome home cooking integral to the way of family life. His passion flared after leaving school where he started in the kitchen of a Seafood restaurant he had worked in as a waiter. It was soon after and following the introduction from his previous Exec Chef, that he took up a new adventure working under the renowned Michel Gehrig. This also helped lay the foundations of Seth’s dedication and passion for the catering industry developing his knowledge and skills in various other restaurants and hotels in Durban, Seth’s home city.

Following a severe motorcycle accident in 1998 in which he lost his right arm, Seth found himself heavily considering his future work prospects. His former Chef, Michel,  introduced him to Michael Caines, which gave him the much needed inspiration to push on and get back into the kitchen. After months of rehabilitation, and some really helpful guidance from Michael, he had resumed all normal activities in the kitchen, giving him a great sense of achievement and want, to further excel.

In 2000 Seth immigrated to the UK to carry on further travelling and to develop his career. After spending 3 years in London and then Cardiff, Seth moved to Devon where he took up a position working for Michael Caines. After a number of years, Seth had progressed into a Group role working across Brownsword Hotels which helped round off his skills in procurement and effective kitchen management.

2014 saw a significant change for Seth where he decided to challenge himself in gaining experience in the Foodservice sector. Having worked very closely with their nominated suppliers in his former procurement role, Seth looked towards an opportunity which arose within the Sales team at Bidvest Foodservice’s Lee Mill Depot.   Seth currently works for Bidvest, as a Business Manager looking after customers in North Devon and surrounding areas which he thoroughly enjoys.

 

Ian Webber

Five BellsFive Bells Inn


Winner of South West Chef of the Year (Professional class) 2006

Ian WebberIan spent his apprenticeship at Combe House near Honiton before going on to work in some of England’s finest country house hotels.

From there he spent time working in Ireland , France and Switzerland and on returning to the UK, he moved back to his home town of Honiton to raise his 3 children with Miranda, his partner.

In 2006 Ian was lucky enough to win the South West Chef of the Year competition where he met Michael Caines. Later that year he went on to become Michael’s head chef at Gidleigh Park, a position he held for over six years before becoming Executive Head Chef at ABode Exeter.

In 2013, Ian moved to his current position as head chef at The Five Bells Inn at Clyst Hydon where he and his team achieved a Bib Gourmand within 12 months.

 

Michael Wignall

Gidleigh ParkGidleigh Park

 

Michael WignallMichael Wignall’s experience of freshly cooked food and multi-cultural cuisine started at a young age, travelling extensively from the Far East, to the United States and across Europe. Although exposed to a variety of international gastronomy, aspiring to be a top chef was not Michael’s first passion.  As a teen, Michael had a promising career as a professional BMX biker, however, his parents encouraged him to attend catering college. After three years, Michael moved to Spain to experience front of house, authentic cooking and the cuisine the country had to offer.

Upon his return to the UK, Michael’s professional career started at Broughton Park, under Paul Heathcote, moving with him to his restaurant in Longbridge, Preston, followed by a spell working with John Burton Race at L’Ortolan. Following this he headed up Old Beams, Waldo’s Restaurant in Cliveden Hotel, Michael’s Nook and the Burlington Restaurant at The Devonshire Arms, earning a Michelin star at each.

Michael joined Exclusive Hotels in November 2007. With a wealth of experience already under his belt and consequently the discovery of his own style and identity, The Latymer became one of the top restaurants in the country.  It was awarded its first Michelin star and gained five AA rosettes in 2011 and added the second Michelin star in 2012. Aside from The Latymer, Michael also stagiaires at top restaurants in France and Spain, including Pierre Gagnaire in Paris.

Michael produces incredibly complex, technically accomplished dishes. His attention to detail and dedication to the pursuit of perfection in flavour, texture and appearance knows no bounds. His reputation of working with suppliers and producers, ensuring all elements are fresh and sustainable, adds to the faultlessness of his dishes.

Out of the kitchen, Michael’s love for extreme sport still exists- particularly Wakeboarding which still plays a massive part in his life. He also travels the world to find new inspirations and ideas to pair with locally sourced, British produce.

From January 2016, Michael made his move from The Latymer (Pennyhill Park) to Gidleigh Park, taking over the reins from Michael Caines. This has been lauded the highest profile culinary takeover of 2016 by the likes of Jay Rayner. The move sees him not only lead the kitchen, but also consult across the food and beverage offering for ABode Hotels.

Junior Class

This year we have launched a new class for 11-16 year olds to recognise young chefs of the future.  Semi-finals will be held for this class in each of the six counties of the South West and we are delighted to welcome the following additional top chefs and chef lecturers to our judging panel to judge the semi-finals:

 

Cornwall

Neil Haydock

Watergate Bay Hotel

See above

 

Stephane Delourme

Seafood Restaurant, Padstow

See above

 

Mark Devonshire

Cornwall CollegeChef Lecturer, Cornwall College

 

Mark DevonshireAfter having spent over a decade working for Rick Stein at the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Mark took on the role as senior tutor at the Padstow Seafood School, further developing his teaching and management skills. He took these to the next level when he set up a cookery school in Worcester on a working farm at Eckington Manor; however, after working away for a time, the pull of Cornwall became too much and Mark returned to join the chef lecturing team at Cornwall College.

Family, food and the countryside are Mark’s priorities and passions. In his spare time, he loves to forage for seasonal wild foods with his children and dog.

“I am a true Cornishman and very proud to be as Cornwall has so much to offer. I have been involved with food all my working life and really enjoy my career within the hospitality industry.” As for lecturing at Cornwall College, Mark states:

“Teaching students is a whole new world; the learners at Cornwall College are so keen to learn new ideas and develop new skills. I now oversee and coordinate the NVQ level 2 and 3 cookery programmes, working with students every day in our training kitchens, developing recipes and teaching them how to scale up their ideas and make them profitable in a working restaurant.”

“Most weekends I am back in the front line of the hospitality industry, out and about with other chefs, be it a wedding or a cookery class or a dinner party either cooking or running front of house. Although it makes for a busy life, this practice is invaluable in keeping myself and my students one step ahead of the game.”

Mark recently appeared on the BBC’s ‘Chefs on Trial’ series as a judge alongside Alex Polizzi. “Working with Alex,” Mark says, “was a huge inspiration to me as she knew how to get the best from me and others around her. The television programme was a big hit and highlighted just how hard it is to find a quality head chef and the importance of having the correct staff.”

 

Devon

Mark Dodson

 

Chef Proprietor, The Masons Arms, Knowstone

See above

Scott Paton

Boringdon Hall HotelBoringdon Hall Hotel

 

Scott PatonMy first experience of cooking was when I was 5, we had a French breakfast day in school where we made baguettes and hot chocolate.   I have always loved cooking and as a kid I often made my family smile with my “strange concoctions”.

I trained at The Jack in the Green, initially washing dishes.  It was my first job in the industry and I soon got stuck in.  I worked with Matt Mason and Paul Parnell for 9 years, so they have obviously had a massive influence on my career.

I’ve won some great accolades that I’m really proud of.  In 2008 I won ‘dessert of the year’ from the Association of Pastry Chefs, and in 2009 I won South West Chef of the Year in the young professional class.

There have been a couple of chefs who have really influenced me.  Pierre Herme is a fabulous pastry chef who I was fortunate enough to work with for a couple of days.  He’s known as the Picasso of Pastry, he’s the guy who brought pastry bang up to date.

I’ve also been hugely impressed by Tom Kerridge at The Hand and Flowers in Marlow.    For me, he’s re-written the fine dining rule book.  He’s just been awarded 2 Michelin stars, but there’s no white linen in the restaurant, no smartly uniformed staff, just a quirkly little pub with wonky tables and a fantastic atmosphere, but he’s managed to capture the essence of his pub in his food.

Scott took the position of head chef at The Horn of Plenty, Gulworthy, where he helped secure three AA rosettes before moving to the role of Head Chef at Boringdon Hall, near Plymouth in May 2016.  Since then he has helped to achieve three rosettes and 5 AA stars at Boringdon Hall.

 

John Wheeler

Exeter College Head of Hospitality Faculty, Exeter College

 

 

Dorset

Russell Brown

Creative About Cuisine logo

 

Creative About Cuisine

 

Russell Brown

Russell has worked as a professional chef across the South West for 20 years, starting as a commis chef in a 3 star hotel with a two rosette restaurant.

In 2003 he and his wife Eléna opened their own restaurant, Sienna, in Dorchester, Dorset.  Here Russell received much critical acclaim including the award of 3 AA Rosettes in 2007 and a Michelin star in 2010, along with a score of 5 in the Good Food Guide.  Each of these awards was maintained thereafter.

In April 2015 Russell and Eléna ended their time at Sienna to begin a new venture, Creative About Cuisine, a business that focuses on consultancy work, writing, demonstrations, teaching and photography.  The business also involves plenty of cooking with guest chef dinners, some pop-ups and maybe another restaurant one day!

 

Brett Sutton

Chef Proprietor, The White Post, Rimpton

Brett Sutton

Born and raised in Portsmouth, Brett’s love of cooking was ignited when he took a part-time job as a kitchen porter, whilst training as an accountant.  This led him to change his career path, switching to training in catering at Highbury College in Portsmouth.

He took his first role as a chef at the Michelin-starred 36 On The Quay in Emsworth before travelling around the country working in several highly regarded establishments to gain as much experience as possible.  After settling in the West Country 15 years ago, Brett took on the position of Head Chef at The Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne, Dorset where he remained for eight years.

In 2014, Brett and his wife Kelly finally achieved his long-term ambition and took ownership of The White Post at Rimpton where he can truly express his love for locally sourced and foraged ingredients.  Brett and Kelly have achieved awards for Best Dining Pub from numerous awards schemes including Taste of the West. South West Tourism and Dorset Magazine and in 2017 were placed at number 34 in the Top 50 Gastropubs nationally.

Brett is an arbitrator for the Great Taste Awards and a regular judge for The World Cheese Awards and the Taste of the West Awards.  No stranger to competition, Brett entered the Roux Scholarship 8 times, reaching the regional and national finals 7 times.  He was also twice finalist in South West Chef of the Year.

 

Gary Kilminster

Essential Cuisine

Gary Kilminster

Trained at the Bournemouth & Poole College from 1997-2000, Gary has a wealth of experience as a chef, including positions working at The De Vere Royal Bath Hotel, Bournemouth; The House of Commons, London;  The De Vere Belfry, West Midlands; Whittlebury Hall, Management Training Centre Hotel & Spa, Northampton; Suvretta House Hotel, St Mortiz Switzerland; Careys Manor Hotel in the New Forest and as a personal chef aboard a luxury charter yacht, Masquerade of Sole in the Mediterranean.

Since 1997 Gary has competed in over 50 competitions here and abroad, winning 35 medals & trophies including, The William Heptinstall Scholarship 2002; First in Class & Best of the Day Food Hygiene Live Theatre Hotelympia 2002; The Midlands Association of Chefs Young Chef of the Year 2003 and the 2005 Dorset & Hampshire Chef of year. In 2013, he was awarded the Ken Fraser MBE memorial award for Education by the British Culinary Federation.

Formerly a chef lecturer at Bournemouth and Poole College, Gary now works as Business Development Manager at Essential Cuisine.

Philip Swaffer

Bournemouth & Poole College

 

Chef lecturer, Bournemouth and Poole College

 

Gloucestershire

David Everitt-Matthias

Le Champignon SauvageChef proprietor, Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham

 

 

David Everitt Matthias

London-born chef and author David Everitt-Matthias has been the co-owner and head chef of two Michelin-starred Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham since 1987, a joint venture he shares with his wife Helen.

David began his career in 1978 atLondon’sInnon the Park (now the Four Seasons), before developing his French-style technique while working under renowned French chef Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire. David moved on shortly afterwards to become head chef of Grand Café in 1983. After two years there, David took his second head chef position at Steamers Fish Restaurant, wrapping up his time in London at Fingals Restaurant Putney in 1987.

Married two years prior, David and his wife Helen moved to Cheltenham Spa in the Cotswolds to open their dream restaurant in 1987. Le Champignon Sauvage, meaning ‘wild mushroom,’ has become renowned for David’s creative use of local ingredients, many of which he and Helen forage themselves at the weekends.  To date David has never missed a service since the restaurant opened over 25 years ago.

David is the author of three highly regarded recipe books: Essence: Recipes from Le Champignon Sauvage in 2006 and Dessert Recipes from Le Champignon Sauvage in 2009, the latter earned runner-up for Best Cookbook in the World from the Gourmand Book Awards. His third, Beyond Essence: New Recipes from Le Champignon Sauvage was launched in spring 2013.

No stranger to awards, some of the accolades David and the restaurant have received include an Acorn Award, a Michelin Star from 1995-99 and 2 Michelin Stars from 2000 to present, AA guide 4 Rosettes, Good Food Guide Country Restaurant of the Year 2000 and 2005, Restaurant of the Year Square Meal 2006, Gourmet Britain Restaurant of the Year, 2010 Chef of the Year Catey Award 2007.

This year David has appeared on Saturday Kitchen and Hairy Bikers, with MasterChef Professionals to follow later this year. Last month Jay Rayner included Le Champignon Sauvage in Observer Food Monthly’s Top 20 UK Restaurants.

 

Gus Ashenford

Chef proprietor Restaurant 5 North Street, Cheltenham

Gus AshenfordAfter training in many prestigious kitchens including ’The Waterside Inn’ with Michel Roux Snr, Gus first came to Michelin stardom aged 25 in his first head chef role at Lovells at Windrush Farm near Burford. He later moved to Chavignol in Chipping Norton and then Chavignol at The Old Mill in Shipston on Stour, always retaining the coveted award.

In 2003 Kate and Gus decided that it was time to fulfil their joint ambition of owning and running their own restaurant in their home locality of the Cotswolds and so they settled on North Street in Winchcombe. Again the Michelin star followed and has been held ever since. The fact that Gus has continuously retained his Michelin star for 15 years is a testament to his creativity, passion and consistency.

 

Renark Cousins

Glos CollegeChef Lecturer,  Gloucestershire College

 

 

Somerset

Liam Finnegan

Head Chef, The Castle Hotel, Taunton

 

Liam FinneganLiam Finnegan, has been head chef at The Castle Hotel in Taunton since 2012. He grew up in Carlingford, Co Louth in Ireland where he spent his time as a self-professed ‘menace’. So much so that his grandmother put him to work in her kitchen, just to keep a watchful eye. Little did she know that her intervention would grow into his lifelong appreciation for the hard work and graft it takes to cook quality food.

Since then, Liam’s career path took him through some fantastic restaurants such as The George Hotel on the Isle of White, The Bath Priory and Gidleigh Park where he worked for Michael Caines, and The Nuremore Hotel (Ray McArdle). When asked about awards, Liam says that a full restaurant and happy customers are more important. “Of course, accolades are brilliant, but anything we get, we receive and share as a team.”

 

Chris Cleghorn

Head Chef, The Olive Tree Restaurant, Queensberry Hotel, Bath

Chris CleghornChris Cleghorn has been Head Chef of The Olive Tree Restaurant at The Queensberry Hotel in Bath since February  2013.

Chris’s career began at The Crown at Whitebrook with James Sommerin. He was fortunate to be in the brigade when the restaurant achieved a Michelin Star. The style of food that James was preparing and the detail associated with preparing food of Michelin standard set the foundation for much of Chris’ own cooking philosophy.

From The Crown, Chris moved to work at The Abode Exeter with Michael Caines. After a year there, he was offered the opportunity to move to Gidleigh Park, where he worked as Sous Chef for the next three years. Working alongside Michael for those years was a great opportunity to further develop his culinary skills in one of the country’s leading kitchens.

Chris then decided to move on to further his knowledge of modern culinary styles. He spent just under a year at The Fat Duck in Bray, followed by six months with Adam Simmonds. These positions helped him to define his own style of cooking, drawing upon all the experience that he had gained working in these first-class kitchens.

He then returned to work with Michael as Executive Chef of The Abode in Chester. This role was a great opportunity to learn more about the management side of the kitchen, exposing him to responsibility for budgets, purchasing and staff management.

It is unsurprising that with such a carefully balanced education Chris has achieved such high recognition in his first year as Head Chef of The Olive Tree. His passion and drive to deliver exceptional standards of dining were recognised with three AA rosettes in under nine months. His focus on his relationship with local suppliers, and his commitment to seasonality in his menus underpins the quality that he offers to guests in the restaurant.

 

Bridget Halford

City of Bath CollegeHead of Hospitality, Bath College

 

Bridget HalfordHaving grown up in a bakery and confectionery business I started working in a local pub as a waitress, Before going on to study catering and hospitality at Henley College, Coventry for 3 years. After college I went to work front of house in Oberammergau in Germany.  I returned to the UK and worked in all areas of the catering industry in Leicester, Bristol and London to gain experience for 10 years.

On returning to the family business as a partner, I have taken part in numerous competitions and had the opportunity to look at the bakery and confectionery industry across the world. While still working in the family business, I entered further education and taught part time at East Devon and Exeter Colleges for 2 years before working full time at East Devon College then eventually being promoted to curriculum leader.

For the last five years I have been Head of Department for Hospitality, Hair, Beauty and Floristry at the City of Bath College and work to form strong employer links with the local industry, enhancing our students’ learning experiences.

Wiltshire

Hywel Jones

Lucknam Park

See above

 

Rob Potter

Manor House Hotel, Castle Combe

See above

 

Stephen Lloyd

Wiltshire CollegeChef lecturer, Wiltshire College

 

 

 

 

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