Eleven chefs made the kitchen final exam and four will compete with pastry following intensive heats last week in Birmingham and London.

Chefs in the pastry exam will need to complete a series of challenges within five hours.The challenges will be a mix of classical and modern techniques with an element of creativity for the finalists.

In the kitchen exam chefs will sit a paper exam before completing butchery and fishmongery tasks. They must also showcase their own style of cooking with a mystery basket challenge and by creating a vegan dessert. Only chefs who achieve the pass mark of 85% or higher will enter the Graduate Awards Hall of Fame.

All 15 young finalists had the opportunity to be involved in the two-day mentoring experience in the Cotswolds. This included a full day at Daylesford Organics where the chefs toured the farm, followed by a cheese demonstration. Chefs enjoyed a barbeque lunch and watched demonstrations from the London Meat Company and pastry chef Andrew Ditchfield.

The second day of the trip included a tour of Shipton Mill before heading to Upton Smokery, followed by an afternoon of gin tasting at Cotswolds Distillery.

Steve Munkley, founder and vice-president of the Graduate Awards said: “So much work goes into planning the two-day mentor experience but it’s absolutely worth it as we aim to make being part of these awards as memorable and valuable as possible.

“Whether the chefs achieve the pass mark or not they will all take so much away from the heats, mentoring and final exam experience. Those who do pass, will go on to test their cooking against the UK’s best young chefs in the Young National Chef of the Year competition in 2020.

“Each year we look to develop and grow the Graduate Awards and our mentoring trip is an important part of our mission to improve culinary skills in the UK.”

The highest achiever of this year’s award will automatically be seeded into next year’s Young National Chef of the Year final with all 15 young chefs being offered a place in the semi-finals.

The eleven Kitchen chef finalists are: 

  • George Birtwell, TRUEfoods
  • Theo Hadjitofi, de Banke Group
  • Rhys Inman, Shears Yard
  • Ieuan Davies, The Manor House Hotel
  • Joshua Rooney, Petrus
  • Ashleigh Hellowell, The Royal Garden Hotel
  • Reece Kallah, Galvin at Windows Restaurant & Bar
  • Thomas Pymer, The Magdalen Arms
  • Nathaniel Berney, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
  • Angelica Kainth, Fenchurch Restaurant
  • Faye De Souza, Deloitte Restaurant Associates

The four pastry chef finalists are:

  • Thomas Bayliss, Le Gavroche
  • Kit De'Ath, Compass Group, Chartwells, De Montfort University
  • Charlotte Bonham, The Pig
  • Kate Mudge, Pennyhill Park Hotel and spa