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.
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 the role of 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 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 in 2016.
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 and national shows with both Big Fire and A Taste of Game. She is an active member of the Budleigh Food and Drink Festival committee. She also enjoys writing about food and is a regular 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. Most recently, Sue took part in the national final of the Teflon Keen Home Cook competition.
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 and 2017 when her quest was successful on both occasions! 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!”
After 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 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
After 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 to Paschoe House, near Crediton, for its opening. In early 2018, Jack took the position of sous chef at the newly refurbished Galley Restaurant in Topsham, Devon.
“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 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 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 currently 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 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.
Overall and Young Professional winner: 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
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 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 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.