Chartwells Independent celebrates culinary excellence with Craft Skills event

Award Winners, Finalists, And Judges

We’re passionate about celebrating the amazing culinary talent across our business.  This focus saw the Chartwells Independent culinary team get together for a Craft Skills for Chefs engagement day held at Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham.

The day was organised by Chartwells Independent’s Executive Chef, Rob Kennedy, bringing together 120 of our chefs from across the country alongside a host of suppliers, colleagues, and key industry stakeholders for a day of culinary workshop sessions, competition, and engagement.

Throughout the day, a series of expert culinary workshops were delivered from leading industry chefs, including Adam Lestrelle, from Coworth Park; Karl Pendlebury from AHDB; Frank Pontais, from Koppet Cress; and Mohit Malhotra, from Rational, amongst others.

The focal point for the day was a culinary competition with over 20 participants. The competition included three rounds: two static judging rounds, including a bread category and a bakery category, followed by a live cook off signature dish category.

The entrants were judged by a panel of experts, including Graham Crump, British Culinary Foundation; Steve Scuffle, Craft Guild of Chefs; and Nick Tessyman, Christ’s Hospital; alongside several senior Compass UK & Ireland chefs, all chaired under the watchful guidance of Nick Vadis, Compass’ UK Executive Chef.  

The judges were particularly impressed by the calibre of entries throughout the day, which all demonstrated high levels of culinary skills and creativity. The hotly contested event saw Krzystof Mikulski from Redmaids take home first price in the bread display category; while Georgi Georgiev, from Christ’s Hospital received a special award for the quality of their standalone loaf; Sarah Van der Walt from Rugby School won the bakery category, with an incredibly detailed tree cake; while Amy Joyce, from Whitgift School, took home the signature dish, with a Caribbean rum cake.

Amy Joyce, Senior Sous Chef at Whitgift School, said: “It was amazing to get together with likeminded chefs from across Chartwells Independent for the first time since the pandemic started. We’re a tight knit community that’s passionate about serving quality food to our pupils, but we rarely get the opportunity to showcase the full range of our skills in front of our peers and a panel of industry judges, which made it extra special.

“Truth be told, I was incredibly surprised when I was announced as the winner. I’d been perfecting my dish of Caribbean rum cake for several weeks now, but as can be the case with live events, I’d had a few issues when starting the round.  It’s a dish that takes inspiration from my roots and a lot of thought and emotion went into developing the recipe, so receiving the top accolade really means a lot.”  

Noelle Jones, Managing Director of Chartwells Independent said: “I’m immensely proud of how the day has gone and the quality of food that was on show; a true testament to the depth of talent we have across Chartwells Independent.

“Coming out of the pandemic, we challenged ourselves to go on a culinary journey, focusing around three core principles – quality, simple, delicious. Rob Kennedy has been a driving force behind this, having a significant impact on the consistency and standard of food we now offer across the business. The food stands up when it comes to quality of ingredients and skill of execution – today was very much a celebration of that.

“However, it’s no longer enough to just create quality, simple, delicious food, you also must stand up when it comes to innovation, nutrition and sustainability. To do this well, you need to form strong partnerships with your clients and suppliers, so that you can work collaboratively, sharing insight, guidance, and best practice. To see so many fantastic partners turn up and engage today, gives much cause for optimism as we look ahead to growing and expanding the business in a sustainable fashion.”