The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts has announced the results of its 2017 Master of Culinary Arts (MCA), the UK's highest culinary and hospitality honour, which is presented every four years.
Seven people were awarded the MCA title having demonstrated the exceptional standards required to achieve the honour. They were recognised at a gala presentation dinner at Claridge's, London, this evening.
The 2017 Master of Culinary Arts are:
Adam Bennett, chef director, the Cross at Kenilworth
Chris Hill, premier sous chef, the Ritz London
Adam Smith, executive chef, Coworth Park, Ascot, Berkshire
Adam Thomason, head chef, Deloitte, Restaurant Associates
Anthony Wright, senior chef lecturer, University College Birmingham
RESTAURANT MANAGEMENT AND SERVICE
Alessandro Fasoli, general manager, the Woodspeen Restaurant and Cookery School, near Newbury, Berkshire
Giovanni Ferlito, head of wine and beverage, the Ritz London
Now in its 30th year, the MCA celebrates those who display advanced specialised knowledge and skills in culinary arts and restaurant management; accept accountability for their decision-making; contribute to supervision and management; express comprehensive knowledge of the principles of sustainability and the viability of our food sources throughout the scope of the food chain; demonstrate leadership and support the development of others; and act in the best interests of the hospitality profession.
In order to reach the finals, each candidate had to win through a number of trials that tested not only technical and artistic mastery of their craft but also the ability to work under extreme pressure of running a restaurant and/or a kitchen, motivating a team, customer service, and, in the case of the restaurant managers, speak two languages fluently, display universal social skills, wine appreciation and menu pairing, organising events and managing a balance sheet.
Despite the judges' confidence in the pastry candidates based on the previous challenging semi-finals, it the first time that all the finalists in this category have not been successful.
Brian Turner, president of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, commented: "Like fine wines, some years produce great vintages, some years are less fruitful. This prominent award is based on perfection. The judges, experienced industry professionals and MCA holders themselves, are looking for candidates to deliver the highest standards under the extremes of pressure that working in the catering industry demands on a day-to-day basis.
"It is for this reason that only a very few candidates ever achieve this standard. It takes real courage to enter the MCA and exceptional skill, to reach the finals. This year we have seen some immensely talented and dedicated individuals yet only seven from two of the three disciplines were able to demonstrate the unique talent to win this esteemed title. We hope that those who were less successful this year will take heart and be inspired by previous winners and that they will contend again."
The chef finalists had six and a half hours to prepare and present a Dover sole dish using langoustines, mussels and razor clams, and a partridge dish, each dish accompanied with three garnishes. Each dish was prepared for eight covers, all portions of the Dover sole were plated, and the partridge dish was presented on a silver flat with two plated portions.
Meanwhile, the pastry chef finalists were required to present a large centrepiece reflecting the theme: ‘the sea: above, below or on the seashore'. During the 12-hour examination they had to produce a small centrepiece inspired by their main piece; pudding soufflé royale; three types of confectionery, including nougat Montelimar, miniature layered chocolate bar and a confection using both pâte de fruit and marshmallow; fruit pithivier using either pear or apple; gateâu succès; and a mystery task.
Together with a commis of their choice, restaurant management and service finalists were assessed on their preparation and the service of a four-course meal to two tables each, one of three covers and one of four. The menu included Laurent Perrier Champagne, four wines and a digestive.
Judges included David Pitchford, proprietor, Reads Restaurant with Rooms, Idris Caldora MCA, executive chef, Adopt a School, André Garrett MCA, executive head chef, Cliveden House, Michael Nadell, Michel Roux , Benoit Blin MCA, head pastry chef, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons and Claire Clark MCA, partner, Pretty Sweet, Silvano Giraldin, director, Le Gavroche, Sergio Rebecchi, director, Serenata Hospitality and Simon Girling, executive food & beverage operations manager, the Ritz London.
Videos from The Caterer archives