Previous Winners

Where are they now?

Previous winners of the professional classes of the South West Chef of the Year competition have gone on to enjoy successful careers in the hospitality industry.  Here we catch up with all previous winners and find out where they are now!

Don’t forget, you don’t have to win to be noticed!  You can read about some of our finalists below too.

Click here to read about a few of our finalists.

2004

Professional winner: Adam Gerrish

Adam GerrishAfter studying for his NVQ in hospitality and catering, Adam opted to specialise in pastry, completing a level 3 patisserie and confectionery course before going on to further chocolate, sugarcraft and pastry courses. Adam is a member of the Association of Pastry Chefs.

During his studies, Adam worked at Charlton House Hotel, Shepton Mallet, initially as a Commis chef and later as Chef de Partie and it was from here that Adam entered and won the South West Chef of the Year competition.  Adam also took advantage of a number of opportunities to broaden his experience whilst working at the Charlton House Hotel, spending some time at The Castle Hotel in Taunton, The Horn of Plenty at Gulworthy, The Seafood Restaurant at Padstow and The Savoy in London.

In 2006 Adam took a job as Chef de Partie at Brockencote Hall in Worcestershire but moved back to the South West working initially at the Old Government House on Guernsey before returning to the mainland where he has taken jobs at a number of high quality hotels and restaurants including Hotel Penzance, the Mount Haven Hotel, The Alverton, Truro and the Boscundle Manor, St Austell.  In May 2015, Adam became head chef at Tremarne Hotel, Mevagissey before moving on to Brend Hotel’s flagship hotel, The Carlyon Bay Hotel in St Austell in May 2017.

During his career, Adam has been successful in a number of competitions including the Annual Awards of Excellence Academy of Culinary Arts, Dessert of the Year, the Heston Blumenthal’s Finish Innovation Challenge and most recently, won the inaugural Cornwall Masterchef Competition in 2013.

There was only one professional class in 2004, the Young Professional class first being introduced in 2005.

Home Enthusiast winner: Liz Truscott, Lyme Regis

2005

Professional winner: Simon Hulstone

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.

“Being awarded the title of South West Chef of the Year during my first year back in Devon was a boost for me personally and for The Elephant.  The competition helped to put the restaurant on the map and since then we’ve gone from strength to strength.  The South West Chef of the Year is a great regional competition and I’m looking forward to discovering new talent this year.”

Young Professional winner: Callum Tasker

Callum Tasker

Callum started his career 14 years ago at at Cotswold House Hotel in Chipping Camden which held 3 AA Rosettes. He has worked closely with chef Simon Hulstone at the Elephant in Torquay which has held a Michelin star for over a decade. He has won gold medals at the International Salon Culinaire at Hotelympia as well as Best Chef in Class at HCTC Future Masters Competition. He has since worked at many fine dining establishments around Devon before joining Ashburton Cookery School in 2016.

 

Home Enthusiast winner: Liz Truscott, Lyme Regis

2006

Professional winner: Ian Webber

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, sister pub to The Jack in the Green, helping the Inn secure its first Bib Gourmand within 12 months.

“Winning the South West Chef competition in 2006 opened the door to working in one of the best restaurants in the country, Gidleigh Park.  The competition allowed me to show my skill and with out it I would not have had the opportunity to work in such a special place as Gidleigh.”

Young Professional winner: Helen Turnbull (née Flitter)

Helen Flitter After almost a decade overseas Helen has set herself the challenge of further defining the essence of kiwi cuisine at Rata Restaurant, Queenstown, New Zealand.

Equally excited and daunted by the task her inspiration comes from the fact that as a young country New Zealand’s cultural influences are constantly growing and progressing.  Originally from Wellington, Helen grew up with an awareness and appreciation of where food comes from with both parents being keen gardeners who liked to experiment in the kitchen. Her grandparents owned a mushroom farm and were active in the organic growing scene.

Helen’s early career coincided with Wellington’s rapid rise as the country’s culinary hotspot, she completed an apprenticeship at the aptly named Icon Restaurant in Te Papa in 2003. Soon after she landed in Tokyo eager to explore the secretive world of Japanese cuisine.

With gender and limited language ability as barriers, Helen worked for 3-months at Kuon fusing traditional cooking methods with modern twists without pay to earn the respect of her head chef. Once accepted she learnt to handle the highest quality products, a new level of attention to detail and how chefs are an integral part of the customer’s service experience.

Her career continued in the UK at the award winning English House, Torquay and it was whilst she was here that Helen won the South West Young Professional Chef of the Year for creating a menu sourced entirely from the local region.

Helen returned to Tokyo in 2006 and joined Gordon Ramsay at the Conrad, the one Michelin starred restaurant received critical acclaim in the food-obsessed city. Seeking a new challenge Helen moved to two Michelin starred Cuisine(s) Michel Troisgros in Tokyo’s exclusive Hyatt Regency Hotel. The Troisgros family regarded as royalty in the restaurant world have run a three Michelin star restaurant in France since 1968 and won numerous international awards. Here Helen worked in an environment that drew upon the best of both Japanese and French produce, ingredients and culinary traditions.

Heading back to Europe Helen travelled overland across Asia keeping a diary of everything she ate in more than 20 countries before joining a private luxury super yacht in the Mediterranean. Her journey came full circle when she met New Zealand business icon Sir Michael Hill in Italy who invited her to work at his exclusive golf club, The Hills, in late 2010.

Early in 2012, Helen joined Josh Emett at his new restaurant, Rata.  Encouraged by the passion of Queenstown to provide a great experience to visitors Helen is looking to share delicious food that invokes the land, light and energy of the seasons filtered through her travels and vision for New Zealand cuisine.

Home Enthusiast winner: Fiona Ravenscroft, Frome

2007

Professional winner: Matt Mason

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!

Not only was winning the South West Chef of the Year competition a great marketing tool for the business but the recognition and a huge pat on the back from my peers meant such a lot.  Being a chef I think we all crave recognition whether it is from a two Michelin-starred chef, our bosses or our customers.  Taking part was a huge pleasure and helped me to become the chef I am today.”

Young Professional winner: Ramone Burton

Ramone was inspired to become a chef as soon as he began his first job as a kitchen porter in his local pub at the age of 14.  He then took a position as Commis Chef at the Two Bridges Hotel near Princetown before leaving school to begin his studies for NVQ level 2 and 3 in food preparation and cookery at PlymouthCollege.

Whilst still at college, Ramone moved on to become a Commis Chef at Browns Hotel, Tavistock in 2005 before being promoted to Sous Chef two years later.

During the summer of 2009, Ramone left Brown’s Hotel to take on stages at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Gidleigh Park and The Crown at Whitebrook, after which he opted to gain more experience in a classic French restaurant, taking a role as Senior Chef de Partie at Chloe’s Restaurant in Plymouth.  In early 2010 Ramone moved to a similar position at the Queensbury Hotel in Bath where he was promoted to Sous Chef in 2011.

At the beginning of 2013 Ramone took on the role of Sous Chef at Ston Easton Park, near Bath.  He is currently working at Chequers restaurant in Bath.

Home Enthusiast winner: Richard Doyle, Cheltenham

2008

Professional winner: Paul Hudson

Now Head Chef at Holbrook House Hotel in Bayford, Somerset, Paul was formerly the Executive Head Chef at the Wood Norton Hotel, Evesham.

He was formerly Head Chef at The Hare and Hounds, Tetbury, Gloucestershire and was working at Stanton Mannor, Chippenham at the time of entry.

Young Professional winner: Jennifer Aston

Jennifer worked at Browns at Tavistock when she entered the South West Chef of the Year competition.  As part of her prize upon winning the Young Professional class, she enjoyed work experience at Gidliegh Park and was subsequently promoted to junior sous chef at Browns.

Six months later Jennifer spent a further 3 months at Gidliegh Park, returning to Browns as sous chef, running both Browns and 22 Mill Street at Chagford until 2010.

After taking a year out Jennifer returned to the kitchen taking up a position at Lewtrenchard Manor at Lewdown following John Hooker, where she is currently the pastry chef.

Home Enthusiast winner: James Hooper, Plymouth

2009

Professional winner: John Walton

John WaltonGrowing up in Padstow, John started his career with Rick Stein at The Seafood Restaurant before moving to London and working at Petrus for three years where he first met Paul Ainsworth.

John came back to Padstow and was reunited with Paul at Number 6 in 2006, working his way up to Head Chef in 2008. Paul and John continue to work closely together, shaping the restaurant and menu; they constantly strive to innovate and create something really special at Number 6 using the very freshest of ingredients and passing on knowledge and experience to the whole team.

As a Cornishman, John was particularly proud of his achievement in winning South West Chef of the Year 2009; although not a frequent participant in competitions, he felt that this one really mattered and was especially close to his heart. John also felt that his success in the competition gave him a real insight, and was a valuable experience, that helped in developing winning ideas with Paul for the Great British Menu.

Young Professional winner: Scott Paton

Scott Paton

My 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 taking his position at Boringdon Hall, Scott has secured three AA Rosettes and in 2017 won both the Food Magazine award for Best Chef and was also a recipient of one of the prestigious  30 under 30 national Acorn Awards for 2017.

Home Enthusiast winner: Tony Normile, Wembury

2010

Professional winner: Matthew Downing

Matt DowningMatt Downing is Head Chef at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage in Axminster, a position he took in March 2016.  Prior to that Matthew was Head Chef at The Magdalen Chapter Hotel in Exeter.  In 2010, he won Professional South West Chef of the Year.  Matt is crazy about top quality fresh produce. He has his own allotment and regularly makes his own preserves and chutneys from the produce he has grown.

Professional development is very important for Matt who is constantly looking to further his own skills as well as mentor others. Matt himself recently trained to become a Charcuterie Chef Specialist enabling him to design imaginative, exciting and innovative menus using cured meats.

Matt is actively involved in helping younger chefs climb through the ranks and plays a leading role in delivering Chapter Hotels culinary work experience programme.

He said: “I put a huge amount of effort into entering the Professional South West Chef of the Year competition in 2010.  Winning the Chef of the Year title has opened up so many doors for me. It has given me the opportunity to present lots of cookery demonstrations to the public including ones at Torquay Food Festival and The Celebration of Beef at Exeter Cattle Market, Matford.

I am always looking to take on new challenges and develop even further as a professional chef. The recent Charcuterie course I did has given me the insight and skills to specialise in producing menus of cured meats such as bresaola, coppa ham, pancetta, chorizo and black pudding.”

Young Professional winner: Ben Champkin

Ben Champkin

Ben began his career working under Brett Sutton at the Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne directly from school.  He says that he learnt so much from Brett and he will always be his mentor.

Brett and Ben built up a very strong father-son type of relationship over the years and it was Brett that helped Ben to progress encouraging him to take part in a lot of events and competitions.  He won Dorset Seafood Master Chef 2011 and South West Chef of the Year in 2010.

Ben completed his NVQ levels through on-the-job training.  After 3 1/2 years it was time for him to move on and extend hislearning . Brett set up 3 working stages for Ben in February 2012 where he completed a week at Sienna Restaurant in Dorchester, then the Elephant Restaurant in Torquay and finally a week at Gidleigh Park. Ben wanted to see three very different Michelin starred kitchens.  He was fortunate enough to be offered a job in all three kitchens and chose the Elephant, where he took up a position in April 2012 before moving to L’enclume in the Lake District in 2013 to work with Simon Rogan.

In 2012 Ben passed the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards exams and in 2013 won the Craft Guild’s Young National Chef of the Year award.  Ben entered for the Roux Scholarship 2016 and was selected as one of six finalists for the grand final.

Home Enthusiast winner: Mary Atherton, Chard

2011

Professional winner: Tom Scade

Tom Scade

Tom Scade is currently sous chef at The Ritz in London where he moved in 2016 from his position as head chef at the Crab and Boar in Chieveley.  This followed his time working with Martin Blunos at Blunos in Bath. Prior to that he was Head Chef of Tides Restaurant and The Mariners Rock for four years. In January 2012, Tom was promoted to General Manager too, overseeing the day to day running of the Restaurant and the Pub with his partner Carla.

Tom graduated with Distinction from Bournemouth College of Further Education in 2004 after gaining a scholarship with The Academy of Culinary Arts – his sponsor was Richard Shepard of Langans Restaurants. In 2006 Tom took part in the National finals of the Young Chef of The Year and gained The Award of Excellence from the Academy of Culinary Arts.

Prior to taking over Tides and The Mariners, Tom worked as Sous Chef at The Bee in Windlesham, earning a Michelin Bib Gourmand in it’s first year of opening. Before that he spent 3 and a half years at The Ritz Hotel in London  and also completed a three year apprenticeship scheme under Keith Stanley at Langans Coq D’Or.

In November 2011 Tom won South West Chef of the Year, beating three other finalists in a cook off. Tom also demonstrates at various events.

Tom describes his food as using influences from European classical and modern cuisine to produce fresh, honest and flavoursome dishes.

Young Professional winner: Daniel Kavanagh

Daniel KavanaghI started my career working in a cafe in the centre of Exeter between my GCSE exams. I was a kitchen porter – washing plates, cleaning the kitchen and other odd jobs for the chefs and owners of the business.  When I finished school I worked full time at the cafe.

I had planned to take an art course at college but the head chef suggested that if I change to an NVQ in catering I would always have a job!  This made sense to me so I changed to an NVQ level 2 at Exeter College. I soon realised that I had a passion for food.

I wasn’t going to learn much in a cafe so I asked my tutor if he had any other options for me and he told me about the Rodean Restaurant in Kenton. After two interviews I started work and was there for over 5 years.

During my time at the Rodean I worked on various stations including garnishes, starters and desserts and opened the restaurant with myself at the pass.  I have completed both my NVQ 2 and 3.

I won Advanced Apprenticeship of the Year 2010 and in November 2011 I entered the Taste of the West’s Young Professional chef of the year contest to measure my skill against other top chefs from the South West.   It was a hard contest due to the talent of the young chefs competing and I was delighted to win!

Early in 2013, I moved on from the Rodean to work under Ian Webber at ABode Exeter and thoroughly enjoyed learning to work to Ian’s and Michael Caines’s high standards.  I am now working in Manchester at the Cholton Green Brasserie.

Home Enthusiast winner: James Hooper, Plymouth

2012

Professional winner: Michael Tweedie

Michael TweedieAfter achieving an NVQ at Exeter College, Mike took his first job as Chef de Partie at The Castle Hotel, Taunton before moving to work with Hywel Jones at the Michelin-starred Lucknam Park, near Bath.  Initially working as Chef de Partie, Mike later became Junior Sous Chef and it was whilst working at Lucknam Park that he entered and won the Professional class of the South West Chef of the Year competition 2012.
At the end of 2012 Mike began working at Gidleigh Park as Junior Sous Chef with Michael Caines and as a result of his success in the competition, was soon promoted to Sous Chef.  At the beginning of 2015 Mike took the position of Head Chef at prestigious Ballyfin Hotel, County Laois, Ireland.  More recently, Mike has been appointed head chef at The Oak Room at Adare Manor in County Limerick, Ireland, due to open in Autumn 2017.

Young Professional winner: Elly Wentworth

Elly WentworthElly began her catering career at the tender age of 13 where she started as pot washer at a local pub.  She knew that catering was for her and went to Plymouth City College to study for an NVQ Level 2 in professional catering and also took an apprenticeship at St Mellion Golf Club in Cornwall.

Elly then worked in restaurants in Wales and the Lake District before returning to the South West to work at Tanners Restaurant in Plymouth and then  at the Elephant Restaurant in Torquay.

From Devon, Elly moved to the Manor House Hotel at Castle Combe in Wiltshire, where she worked as Chef de Partie.  It was from here that she entered and won the Young Professional class of the South West Chef of the Year competition in 2012 and again in 2014.  As you will read below, after winning the title for a second time in 2014, Elly went on to win the title of overall South West Chef of the Year too.

In June 2015, Elly took a position as Chef de Partie at Lucknam Park, Bath and graduated to junior sous chef three months later.  In 2017, Elly was promoted to sous chef in the newly launched Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park.

As winner of South West Young Professional Chef of the Year 2014, Elly secured her place in the semi-final of the Craft Guild of Chefs Young National Chef of the Year competition 2015, successfully reaching the final!  Elly has also reached the final of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence.  In 2016 Elly competed in the BBC’s MasterChef The Professionals successfully reaching the final 3 contestants!

Home Cook winner: Gillian Evans

Gillian Evans

A retired PA, Gillian certainly wasn’t looking for a new career when she won Home Cook in 2013, however her passion for fresh locally sourced ingredients has taken her down the route of  spreading the word about the wide range of food produced locally.

Gillian gardens, with husband Bob, in their half an acre producing supplies of salads, herbs, vegetables, soft fruit, tree fruit and fresh eggs.  Not quite self-sufficiency but getting there!  She regularly blogs about the produce they grow and the recipes she uses to enjoy the fruits of their labours.

“Winning Home Cook has given me a platform to indulge my own love of fresh seasonal food,” commented Gillian.  Her blog can be found at www.gillianskitchengarden.co.uk

2013

Overall and Young Professional winner: Nathan Cornwell

Nathan Cornwell

Nathan Cornwell studied for his NVQ at Bournemouth and Poole College in Dorset before taking a job at Lucknam Park, near Bath, where he worked as Chef de Partie at the time of entry into South West Chef of the Year.

In 2013 Nathan entered and won the Young Professional class (aged 16-22) of South West Chef of the Year.  The judges were so impressed with the skills that Nathan demonstrated in both the semi-final, when he prepared his own menu, and the final, when he prepared a two course meal using ingredients from a mystery box, that they also decided to award him the title of overall South West Chef of the Year 2013.

Since his success in the competition, Nathan has taken a job as Chef de Partie at the 2 Michelin star Le Champignon Sauvage with David Everitt-Matthias.

Professional winner: Andrew Chan

Andy Chan

After achieving his NVQ 1 and 2 in both food and food service at Weston college, Andrew went on to work in the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel in the two rosette restaurant, becoming chef de partie before moving on to other positions in the Bristol area working in such establishments as Loch Fyne restaurant and Cadbury House Hotel, where he became sous chef, working with head chef, Mark Veale.

Mark and Andrew took their successful partnership to Thornbury Castle where Andrew once again worked as sous chef and it was from here that he entered South West Chef of the Year 2013.

After winning the Professional chef award, Andrew was offered and accepted a position as sous chef at The Castle Hotel in Taunton, under head chef, Liam Finnegan before moving on to a head chef position at Polurrian Bay Hotel at Mullion in Cornwall.  More recently, Andrew has returned to the Thornbury Castle as head chef.

Junior winner: Maia English

Maia EnglishMaia English became the very first winner of our new Junior class (for 11-16 year olds) in 2013.  A pupil at The Kings School, Ottery St Mary, Maia initially won the Devon heat of the Junior class.  She was mentored by one of our judges, Matt Durrant, in preparation for the final which she went on to win.

Since winning the competition, Maia has enjoyed her prize of valuable work experience at two-Michelin starred Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham with David Everitt-Matthias and has also taken opportunities for further work experience at Gidleigh Park and The Jack in the Green.

After finishing school, Maia began her apprenticeship at Gidleigh Park in August 2014, working with Michael Caines and Allister Barsby, before moving on to work with Simon Hulstone at The Elephant, Torquay in the Autumn of 2015.

South West’s Best Dish (home cooks) winner: Steve Ashworth

Steve Ashworth

Steve Ashworth is very well-known throughout the South West’s food industry being passionate about good food and will be a familiar face to those attending food events across the region.

A tax specialist by trade, Steve’s reputation as more than a gifted amateur was cemented in 2013 when he won the title of South West’s Best Dish at the South West Chef of the Year competition and was selected as a finalist again in 2014 and 2015.

Since entering the competition Steve has hosted (and cooked) on many food demo stages and has become a judge for numerous food awards schemes including Bristol and Bath Good Food Awards, Taste of the West, the Guild of Fine Food and the Western Daily Press Awards.  Steve is also part of the judging team for the Soil Association’s 2016 BOOM Awards (Best of Organic Market) with many top named chefs and food enthusiasts from around the UK.

Steve’s passion for food means he is often invited to talk about food on the radio and is helping with the food areas for the Bath & West Show and Weston Super Mare Food Festival.  He is a keen promoter and supporter of food across the South West and further afield. You can follow Steve and his food musings on Twitter: @steve_ashworth.

Recently Steve has taken on the role of a home development cook for Clifton Sous Vide range of home products.

2014

Overall and Young Professional winner: Elly Wentworth

Elly WentworthElly entered South West Chef of the Year for the second time in 2014 and in so doing, became the first chef to win the Young Professional award twice!  She also went on to win the overall South West Chef of the Year award.

Elly began her catering career at the tender age of 13 where she started as pot washer at a local pub.  She knew that catering was for her and went to Plymouth City College to study for an NVQ Level 2 in professional catering and also took an apprenticeship at St Mellion Golf Club in Cornwall.

Elly then worked in restaurants in Wales and the Lake District before returning to the South West to work at Tanners Restaurant in Plymouth and then  at the Elephant Restaurant in Torquay.

From Devon, Elly moved to the Manor House Hotel at Castle Combe in Wiltshire, where she worked as Chef de Partie.  It was from here that she entered and won the Young Professional class of the South West Chef of the Year competition in 2012 and again in 2014. going on to win the title of overall South West Chef of the Year in 2014!

In June 2015, Elly took a position as Chef de Partie at Lucknam Park, Bath and graduated to junior sous chef three months later.  In 2017, Elly was promoted to sous chef in the newly launched Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park.

As winner of South West Young Professional Chef of the Year 2014, Elly secured her place in the semi-final of the Craft Guild of Chefs Young National Chef of the Year competition 2015, successfully reaching the final!  Elly has also reached the final of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence.  In 2016 Elly competed in the BBC’s MasterChef The Professionals successfully reaching the final 3 contestants!

Professional winner: Dean Westcar

Dean WestcarDean was born and raised inSouth Africa.  He always loved cooking as a child, especially baking cookies for the family.  He moved to England at 14 and took a full time job in catering as soon as he left school.  He fell in love with being a chef enjoying the passion, creativity and hard work and wanting to learn as much as possible in order to progress his career.  Dean was junior sous chef at the 1 Michelin star/3 rosettes Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe, Wiltshire for three years, from where he entered and won the title of South West Professional Chef of the Year in 2014.  2015 brought further competition success for Dean when competed in the BBC’s MasterChef competition, successfully reaching the semi-finals.
In October 2015, Dean took the position of sous chef at the Michelin-starred Lucknam Park, Bath and in 2017 was promoted to head chef in the recently launched Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park.  Dean also became a recipient of a prestigious Acorn Award in 2017, awarded to 30 leading lights of the industry aged under 30.

Student/Apprentice Chef winner: Emily Colling

Emily CollingEmily began baking with her Grandmother at a very early age.  She has been competing successfully in cookery competitions since her secondary school days and providing the inspiration and motivation to go into catering.

Emily began to study catering seriously at 15, gaining a wealth of knowledge and inspiration from her first catering teacher.  She was given an opportunity to spend a week working in the kitchens at Gidleigh Park where she gained valuable experience of a working kitchen creating dishes of exceptional quality and it was at this point that Emily realised that this was the career for her. During her time at Gidleigh, Emily learned about the Michael Caines Academy for which she applied and was fortunate to gain a place, starting her course in 2012.

At the same time, Emily took part-time work at her local pub where she learned the basics and gained many new skills. During her two years at the Academy, Emily benefitted from many great practical experiences including six weeks of work experience at the Arundell Arms.

On completion of her course in 2014, Emily secured an apprenticeship with the 2 Rivers Restaurant in Okehampton, Devon and entered South West Chef of the Year soon after her apprenticeship began.  ”Being involved in the competition has taught me so much and since then other opportunities have arisen and I have already entered another competition.”

Junior winner: Melissa Johnson

Melissa JohnsonMelissa’s love of food and cooking stemmed from a very early age when she would help her mother with the cooking, often cooking family meals herself as she grew older. Melissa is currently studying for her GCSE’s, including one in catering, at The Kings School in Ottery St Mary. Melissa says that she is very lucky to go to a school with such a good catering department – it was awarded the Best Secondary School Catering Department at the British Cookery School Awards in 2014. “My teacher, Mrs Capon, is such a motivational teacher and along with ‘chef’ they encouraged me into doing my first ever competition, the Rotary Young Chef competition. It was around this time that I realised that this was the career I want to go into.”

Soon afterwards, Melissa entered the Exeter Schools Cook Off winning the final which took place in front of an audience at the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink festival in April 2014.

Melissa was offered a week’s work experience at the The Salty Monk restaurant in Sidford as part of the schools program, following which owners, Andy and Annette Witheridge, offered her a weekend job.  Melissa reports that she has learned so much, both in the kitchen and front of house, and has demonstrated alongside Andy at the Budleigh Food Festival in both October 2014 and March 2015.

Melissa entered and won the Junior class of South West Chef of the Year in 2014.  “This was such a fantastic time for me and I am hugely grateful to Matt Durrant, chef lecturer at Exeter College, for mentoring me.  One of the prizes was a week’s work experience at Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham.  I was amazed at the precision that the team there put into their food and the amount I learnt in such a short space of time was incredible. David Everitt-Matthias and his team made me feel very welcome.”

Melissa is currently studying for her A levels in geography, art, business studies and maths, whilst continuing to work at The Salty Monk.

South West’s Best Dish (home cooks) winner: Alexandra Jenkins

Alex Jenkins

Alexandra grew up in Surrey but is now based inDevon, where after the tragic loss of her beloved mother Jane, she has pursued the passion for cooking instilled in her by her mother and developed her skills as an aspiring chef, putting both to good use in a brand new career.

Alex was working as creative director for a marketing agency when she entered and won the South West’s Best Dish award 2014.  Without any formal chefs’ training, Alexandra has now become the newly appointed head chef of The Beer Head Bistro, a thriving seaside bistro in Beer,East Devon.

2015

Overall and Professional winner: Jamie Rogers

Jamie RogersAfter two years as head chef at the Langdon Court Hotel at Down Thomas near Plymouth, Jamie took a position as head chef at the Belgrave Sands Hotel, Torquay before moving to The Wardroom in Salcombe in 2017.  He began his career in catering at the age of 12, washing dishes and helping with some prep at The Cricket Inn, Beesands.  He later worked as an apprentice with the Tanner brothers at Tanners and the Barbican Kitchen before taking a position as sous chef at the Glassblowing House on the Barbican at Plymouth.  After a spell at the South Sands Hotel at Salcombe, Jamie moved to Langdon Court Hotel in 2013, initially as sous chef but he was promoted to head chef in 2014.

Later that year, Jamie entered BBC MastcefChef reaching the quarter finals and after entering South West Chef of the Year three times, won the Professional Chef category in 2015, also being awarded the title of overall South West Chef of the Year.

“South West Chef of the Year has been such an amazing boost to my career.  It has given me so much confidence and refined me as a chef.  I learned a great deal from fellow competitors and the fantastic judges and feel that my food is improving all the time as a result.  I would recommend all chefs to enter!”

Young Professional winner: James Mason

James MasonJames trained as an apprentice chef at Exeter College while working at the Diggers Rest at Woodbury Salterton.  He then moved to Oxford to work as chef de partie in a 2 rosette pub and worked a stage at Gordon Ramsey’s 3 star Hospital Road restaurant.
James then returned to Devon temporarily to take the position of chef de partie at ABode Exeter before moving to Sussex to work at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Tristan in Horsham, Sussex.  James then returned to Devon again to work as junior sous with Tom Williams-Hawke at The Salutation Inn, Topsham.  Later taking the position of sous chef, it was from here that James entered and won South West Young Professional Chef of the Year.
Thanks to his success in the competition, James was offered the position of head chef at No.1 Rock Road, Rock, Cornwall and he began his new role there in March 2016, achieving a Gold award in the Taste of the West restaurant awards in June 2016 and being named as a finalist for Chef of the Year in the Cornwall Food and Drink awards.  James also took part in the finals of the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year in 2016.  In November 2016, James was appointed by Michael Caines as head chef at The Coach House by Michael Caines at Kentisbury Grange Hotel in North Devon.
“Entering South West Chef of the Year was such a great experience.  It has given me much more confidence in my own abilities and has taught me to be a lot more organised.  One of the most exciting things I’ve gained is the confidence to develop my own style of cooking.”

Student/Apprentice Chef winner: Jack Sharland

Jack SharlandAfter leaving school, Jack initially took a two year course at the Michael Caines Academy and as part of this course worked a stage at The Salutation Inn, Topsham with chef Tom Williams-Hawke and another at the Hand and Flowers, Marlow, with Tom Kerridge.  Following his stage, Jack was offered the role of part-time commis chef at The Salutation Inn, while he continued his studies for a level 3 NVQ at Exeter College.  After completing his NVQ, Jack worked as commis chef at the Salutation Inn before moving in February 2017 to take the role of commis chef at Kentisbury Grange, North Devon, working with head chef and fellow South West Chef of the Year winner, James Mason.

“Winning South West Student Chef of the Year has helped me to believe that I really can cook!  It’s such a confidence boost and what an incredible experience to meet and cook for some of the best chefs around!”

 

Junior winners: Andrew Callaghan and Julia Kwiatkowska

For the first time in the history of South West Chef of the Year the judges selected joint winners in the Junior class.  Andrew Callaghan, a pupil at Clayesmore Senior School, Blandford Forum, Dorset and Julia Kwiatkowska, from Hayle Community School in Cornwall both demonstrated a fantastic range of skills and understanding of the locally produced ingredients they were using to create their very accomplished dishes.  Our judges were simply unable to split them!

All junior finalists benefit from mentoring in preparation for the final from top chefs and as part of their prize, Andrew and Julia spent a week gaining valuable experience in the kitchen at Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham with two Michelin-starred chef proprietor, David Everitt-Matthias and his team!

Andrew Callaghan

Andrew was mentored in preparation for the final by twice finalist in the professional category, Brett Sutton, chef proprietor of The White Post in Rimpton, Dorset.

Andrew is currently studying for his ‘A’ levels and whilst still undecided whether to pursue a career as a chef or as a pilot, he received several job offers after winning the competition and has taken advantage of various opportunities to gain further work experience.  Andrew entered the Home Cook category of South West Chef of the Year the following year and successfully reached the final!

“Winning the Junior Class of South West Chef of the Year has changed my life, and the opportunities granted and gained from it have been truly phenomenal.  To be honest, without the South West Chef of the Year Competition I can truly say that I don’t know where I’d be today. From the terrific two Michelin star work experience at the Le Champignon Sauvage (which was a tremendous experience), to the knowledge, expertise and skills that I have learnt from both the competition and work experience, all will help to get me out into the culinary world.

I can recommend South West Chef of the Year to anyone out there wishing for a challenge and just wishing to improve, because when I started out, although I wasn’t the best at first, the competition grants you opportunities to thrive and improve working with some of Britain’s most famous chef faces! Never say never, the only way you’ll improve is through practice!”

Julia Kwiatkowska

Julia was received mentoring in preparation for the final from South West Chef judge, Stephane Delourme, head chef at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow.

Julia has always enjoyed cooking as her family cooks and bakes on a regular basis. Julia helped out from a young age and has now started to take responsibility for more of the family cooking. Since she was around 10 years old, she has also enjoyed making birthday cakes with fun decorations. As she has developed her skills, she has been commissioned by others to make celebration cakes.  Julia also bakes for and helps out with charity bake sales.

As a result of winning South West Junior Chef of the Year, Julia was offered a job at the Rosewarne Manor restaurant in Cornwall where she works while studying for her ‘A’ levels.  In the future she hopes to work in various restaurants to gain further knowledge of the industry and ultimately dreams of opening her own bakery to create a business from her passion for baking and decorating cakes.

“I loved my work experience at Le Champignon Sauvage as it was my first in depth experience of working in a restaurant and luckily it didn’t put me off!! The team was extremely welcoming and got me fully involved from the moment I arrived which helped me experience what it’s like working as a chef. I’d like to thank Stephane Delourme from The Seafood Restaurant who mentored me before the competition and his staff who made me feel very welcome during the time I spent in the restaurant. And an extra special thank you to David Everitt-Matthias who kindly let Andrew and I observe and participate in his busy kitchen and to his staff who educated us about how a restaurant works and how to work together in it.”

Home Cook winner: Nicola Youngs

Nicola YoungsNicola loves to cook for her family and has always been keen to use ingredients produced in the area surrounding her home in Dymock in Gloucestershire.

Since winning her title, Nicola has appeared regularly on BBC Radio Gloucestershire, sharing her recipes and cooking tips with the people of Gloucestershire.

2016

Overall and Professional winner: Jamie Coleman

Jamie Coleman

Jamie started his career, studying for his NVQ level 2 in catering at Petroc College in North Devon when he also began working at a small restaurant in Barnstaple, Devon.

In 2008 Jamie packed his bags and moved to London where he took a job starting as a commis chef on pastry at the Michelin starred, Gordon Ramsay at Claridges, working under Mark Sergeant.  Jamie soon worked his way through the ranks to be a chef de partie able to run any section.

With progression and learning on Jamie’s mind he decided to leave this restaurant after 2 years to move closer to home and in 2010 Jamie took up a position as demi chef de partie at the 2 Michelin starred, Gidleigh Park. under Michael Caines and within a month, was promoted to chef de partie and given the responsibility of the starter section.

After a year Jamie decided to move back home to Barnstaple to take up the position of junior sous chef at the 4 AA star Saunton Sands Hotel.  Learning “on the job” has always been a priority for Jamie and, in order to further his training, he spent some time as a temporary chef in various high-end and Michelin starred restaurants, including a year at the 5 AA red star Summer Lodge Hotel.

Jamie then decided home was where he wanted to be so a return to Devon was calling. In 2015 Jamie returned to the Saunton Sands Hotel to take up his current role as head chef, helping to keep hold of the restaurant’s rosette and building a reputation for great food in the South West.

In June 2017, Jamie moved on from the Saunton Sands Hotel to take up the position of head chef for renowned Michelin-starred chef and South West Chef of the Year judge, Mark Dodson, at The Masons Arms, Knowstone.

Young Professional winner: Timothy Kendall

Timothy chose cooking as a career because he loves eating and he knew he wanted to be a chef from a young age!  He began his career at Cornwall College St Austell where he studied for two years for a VRQ.  Whilst at college, Timothy enjoyed a number of stages at various restaurants, including one at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow working with head chef, Stephane Dolourme, who has been a significant mentor for Timothy and who offered him a permanent position as a commis chef.

After a year, Timothy decided to move to London to work for Marcus Wareing and was a part of the opening team at his restaurant, The Gilbert Scott, in the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.  He then took a position with Michel Roux Junior at the 2 Michelin starred Le Gavroche. After working in London for 2 years, Timothy came back to Cornwall to take on stages at St Moritz under Jamie Porter (a great friend and mentor), Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 and Chris Eden at the Driftwood.  In July 2014 Timothy took a break from the kitchen before going back to the Seafood Restaurant in January 2016.  In January 2017, Timothy took on the position of Senior Chef de Partie, working with Guy Owen, at The Idle Rocks in St Mawes, Cornwall.

“I love my job now more than ever; there isn’t another job where you can use all 5 senses. I told Stephane that I wanted to enter a competition and South West Chef of the Year seemed the best one. I never thought my application would get through let alone win the competition!” 

Student/Apprentice Chef winner: Harrison Brockington

Harrison started working in kitchens at the age of 14 by volunteering at a local pub before moving to a local seafood restaurant at the weekends whilst at school. In so doing, he developed a passion for cooking which he decided to pursue.

Upon leaving school, Harrison gained a place at the Michael Caines Academy, where he achieved both Level 1 and Level 2 VRQs.  Whilst at the academy, he started working at ABode Exeter (The Royal Clarence), when he developed his skills under Nick Topham and Alex Gibbs before moving to work at Dart Marina Hotel in Dartmouth.

Harrison is currently continuing his training at Exeter College, working towards an NVQ Level 3,  where, in January 2017 he was awarded the Michael Caines Academy Student of the Year award.  In February 2017, Harrison began his new job as apprentice chef working with John Burton Race at the Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay.

Harrison is looking forward to pursuing his career and gaining a lot more experience in various restaurants and hopes to continue competing in other competitions.

 

Junior Chef winner: Ethan Macdonald

Ethan Macdonald

Ethan was interested in a career as a chef from an early age and, wanting to learn as much as possible, he began helping out at the HH Restaurant in Broadclyst at the tender age of 11.  Continuing to work there until he was 15, Ethan then spent a week at the Salutation Inn in Topsham to gain additional work experience and was offered a job by chef proprietor Tom Williams Hawkes.

Ethan was a pupil at The King’s School, Ottery St Mary and worked as many evenings and weekends as he could!  From September 2016, he began a professional cookery apprenticeship through Exeter College, spending one day a week at college and 4 days working at The Salutation Inn.

Ethan is keen to develop his skills and his career further at the Salutation Inn but also states that one of his long-term ambitions is to work on a private yacht enabling him to cook and travel at the same time!

Home Cook winner: Sue Stoneman

Sue is an enthusiastic home cook from Exmouth who loves to cook for her family and friends.  Her cooking is not confined to her kitchen, she also cooks outdoors on her barbecue and in a wood-fired oven that she built herself.  A real ‘foodie’, Sue loves to create dishes using local produce and enjoys hunting out new, local food products, suppliers and foodie gadgets wherever she visits on her travels.  It is no surprise then that she was also presented with the award for the Best Use of Regional Produce.

Sue works at Bigfire at Dartington near Totnes, where she is occasionally able to cook and demonstrate her skills in a variety of outdoor ovens.  She also does demonstrations at local food and drink festivals, being an active member of the Budleigh Food and Drink Festival committee and this year, will form part of the judging panel for the Budleigh Food Festival Master Chef competition.  She is a contributor for the UK BBQ Magazine and has written restaurant reviews for Crumbs Magazine.  Her love of cooking has also led to a television appearance on the BBC programme, The Box, with James Martin.

Sue has been very successful in other competitions too, holding the title of West Country Baking Champion which she won at Exeter Food & Drink Festival in 2015 and Sticky Toffee Pudding Champion 2015, a regional competition open to both professional and amateur chefs held annually in Padstow.

Sue reached the final of South West Home Cook of the Year originally in 2015 and, taking on board the feedback provided by the judges, entered again in 2016 when her quest was successful!  Since winning South West Home Cook of the Year, Sue shares her cooking stories, hints and tips on her local radio station BayFM and describes herself as “one happy Home Cook!”

 

Check out a few of our finalists too!

It’s not all about the winning!  South West Chef of the Year is a great opportunity to be noticed by our judges and just taking part can provide a fantastic platform to demonstrate your skills!  In addition to the exciting careers that previous winners are enjoying (outlined above), take a look at what some of our other finalists have gone on to do since competing:

Jordan Bailey

Jordan BaileyJordan was born and trained in Cornwall, gaining an NVQ level 3 and 4 A levels at Cornwall College.  He took his first job in catering at Rosewarne Manor in Hayle before moving to work as Chef de Partie with Simon Hulstone at The Elephant in Torquay.  It was from here that Jordan entered the Young Professional category  of South West Chef of the Year.  Although he did not take the title, he did receive the award for  Best Presentation – his flair was evident for all to see.  Shortly after the competition, Jordan took a position at Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham before moving to work at Maaemo in Oslo, Norway, with Chef Proprietor Esben Holmboe Bang.  He was working as Sous Chef at Maaemo when the team was awarded its third Michelin star in February 2016 and in April the same year, Jordan was promoted to Head Chef!  Since competing in South West Chef of the Year, Jordan has enjoyed much success in various competitions, including Bocuse d’Or, where he came 4th in the European qualifications and 12th in the world; Global Chef (2nd); Culinary Olympics (gold medal) and he successfully passed the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Award.

Anton Piotrowski

Twice finalist, Anton Piotrowski began cooking in a pub in Ivybridge, Devon, at the age of 16 while training in Plymouth and soon moved on to the kitchens of the Burgh Island and Plantation House hotels.  After a brief spell working in London, Anton returned to Devon where he and his wife Claire bought The Treby Arms in Sparkwell in 2011.  In 2012 Anton entered and became joint winner of BBC MasterChef The Professionals and later that year, also secured a Michelin star at The Treby Arms.  In 2014, Anton and Claire opened their second pub, The Springer Spaniel near Launceston in Cornwall.  In early 2016, the Treby Arms was named 15th in the UK’s Top 50 Gastropubs.

Brett Sutton

Brett SuttonFormerly head chef at The Eastbury Hotel, Sherborne, Dorset, Brett also reached the final of South West Chef of the Year twice.  Since then he has taken ownership of his own pub, The White Post at Rimpton, Dorset, in 2014, where he and his wife Kelly have already been awarded a plethora of accolades!  These include Best Dining Pub Awards from a range of awards bodies including Taste of the West, Dorset Magazine and most recently South West Tourism.

Camilla Waite

Camilla WaiteCamilla was a pastry chef at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow when she entered South West Young Professional Chef of the Year.  Fellow Padstow chef and competition judge, Paul Ainsworth, instantly recognised Camilla’s potential and offered Camilla a job at Paul Ainsworth at Number 6.  Camilla has not looked back and has worked her way up to Chef de Partie.  Paul has supported Camilla in her career development, helping to arrange a stage for her with Sat Bains and her next big adventure in America.  Despite not winning the Young Professional award, Camilla did scoop the award for Best Dish.

Dan Gambles

Dan GamblesChef de Partie at Gidleigh Park at the time of entry to South West Chef of the Year, Dan then secured the dream job, working and travelling the world as a chef with the Williams Forumula 1 team before being appointed as sous chef at Michael Caines’s new hotel, Lympstone Manor, in February 2017.

Why not give it a go?  What’s to lose?!

Click here for more details about this year’s competition.

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