Top chefs from Europe and the UK judged the Aubrey Allen Chef of the Year competition at Food and Drink Expo at the NEC on the 8 April and in the evening all joined in congratulating the winner, young Birmingham Chef, Thomas Wells of Turners restaurant in Harborne, Birmingham.
Aubrey Allen, award winning nationwide catering butchers, organised the Chef of the Year competition together with the British Culinary Federation. This year, chefs from as far as Cornwall and London were amongst the 8 finalists cooking it out at the Chef's Live stand at the NEC.
The audience were delighted as they watched industry greats such as Pierre Koffmann of Tante Claire restaurant and Christophe Marguin, President of the prestigious Toque Blanche Lyonnaise, expertly taste the food and observe the techniques.
Amongst the judges was Dick van Leeuwen, master butcher and project manager for EBLEX who assessed the contestant's seam butchery techniques prior to cooking.
Chairman of the judges, Roger Narbett, said: "The standard was extremely high and the winning places were very close indeed. It is great to see that the competition attracts such a high calibre of talent." The University College Birmingham was the venue for the awards dinner and lobster salad and fine English roast beef were on the menu after a champagne reception. Bob Warman of Central Television interviewed all the finalists bringing much humour to a great evening.
The runners up in 2nd and 3rd place were Matthew Cheal of Simpsons Birmingham and Olivier Perard from Opus.
Young Chef Thomas Wells, sous chef to Richard Turner at his eponymous restaurant in Harborne, Birmingham, won first prize - £2,500, engraved knives, champagne and automatic entry into the National Chef of the Year competition in London. He also received surprise gifts from the Lyon Chefs - a decanter and a limited edition print of Paul Bocuse.
On winning, the delighted chef said: "It's my first competition. I was nervous at first but once it started I settled into it. Pierre Koffmann was fantastic, talking to each of us in turn during the competition. I am so delighted to have been part of it and to have won is just brilliant."