Fuller’s announces Chef of the Year finalists

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Keep it in house: training schemes 'dramatically' improve head chef retention
Keep it in house: training schemes 'dramatically' improve head chef retention

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London pub company Fuller’s has revealed this year's finalists for its in-house Chef of the Year competition.

Four chefs aged 24 and under, and six aged 25 and over, from across the pubco and brewer’s estate will compete against each other at a cook off at Fuller’s manager’s conference at Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire on 10 May.

The finalists:

24 and under:

  • Timothy Hodgson (the Distillers, Hammersmith)
  • Vincenzo Favullo (the Holly Bush, Hampstead)
  • Billie Jean Davis (the Stonemasons, Hammersmith)
  • Rafael Tiglao (the Stonemasons Arms, Hammersmith)
  • Clayton Baker (the Fox & Pelican, Grayshott, Hampshire)

25 and older:

  • Luke Emmess (the Still & West, Portsmouth)
  • Allen Sorrell (the Wykeham Arms, Winchester)
  • Cristian Ciortan (the Red Lion, Barnes)
  • Johnny Joseph (the Queens Head, Kingston)
  • Johnny Atkins (the Old Customs House, Gunwharf Quays)
  • Paul Revill (the Red Lion, Hillingdon)

They were chosen by a panel of judges including legendary chef Pierre Koffmann, former Fuller’s Chef of the Year Gavin Sinden, Fuller’s director of corporate affairs Richard Fuller, food critic David Williams and representatives of The Morning Advertiser​ and British Beer & Pub Association.

Judges evaluated paper entries from chefs, who were asked to design a two or three-course menu around specific ingredients and accurately cost and price them.

‘Keep them competitive’

Fuller’s head of food Paul Dickinson said: “It’s not easy to get this far. I’ve got 1,200 chefs – you have to keep them competitive.”

The company’s chef-led marketing campaign, Fuller’s Kitchen​, combined with its internal training scheme the Chef’s Guild and the Chef of the Year contest, had significantly boosted the company’s staff retention levels and recruitment potential, he said.

“Head chef retention has improved dramatically. Once they’re in and they see the investment in kitchens and chefs, they’re intrigued and it’s easier to get them on board whereas in the days of old, it was a lot harder.

“I’ve seen our competitors say that we are helping them change the perception of the pub business – that’s what we’re trying to do. Not just for us, but for the whole industry.”

Brexit contingency plan

With Prime Minister Theresa May set to trigger Article 50 this week and begin formal negotiations to leave the European Union, Dickinson said the company would work to ensure the security of all its EU staff.

“We have a plan that we’re working through. Once we know exactly what we can do with free movement, we can start acting on it,” said Dickinson.

“We’re communicating with our people and working closely with them. The workforce we have at the moment, I wouldn’t lose any of them.”

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