Our incredible 2019 judging panel was hand-picked based on their exceptional expertise and experience. Representing the very best chefs and waiting professionals in the business, take an inspiring look at the panel below.
Please note: it is our policy that any judge who is connected to any entrant, is not permitted to judge that specific entry. This means anyone working directly with a judge at their current establishment or organisation.
Theo Randall at the InterContinental
Theo Randall’s career began at London’s acclaimed Chez Max where Max Magarian invited him to complete an apprenticeship in classic French cuisine. In 1989, Theo joined the up-and-coming read more River Café working with legendary Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray MBE. After a year’s secondment with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, Theo returned to The River Café for 15 years as head chef, leading the restaurant to receive its first Michelin star in 1997. He left to open Theo Randall at the InterContinental in November 2006 where he delivers produce-driven Italian food from the prestigious address of No. 1 Park Lane.
Emily Roux is the youngest to join the Roux family dynasty. Daughter of Michel and granddaughter to Albert, Emily is beginning to set her own mark in the culinary world. With Michelin starred training across France read more and Monaco, Emily came back to the UK in 2015 to begin working with the coveted Restaurant Associates. In 2017 she released her first cookbook ‘New French Table’ with her mother Giselle. A year later Emily and her husband Diego opened their first restaurant Caractère in Notting Hill. The restaurant encompasses what both Emily and Diego hold dearest – beautiful food, warm surroundings, expert and friendly service – all delivered with real character.
The Social Company
Jason Atherton launched his flagship London restaurant, Pollen Street Social in April 2011, which was awarded a coveted Michelin star within six read more months of opening. Since then, Jason's 'The Social Company' has grown into a globally renowned restaurant group, with 16 establishments worldwide including 4 that have been awarded Michelin stars.
Chef, restaurateur and consultant Brian Turner CBE is one of Britain's best known chefs, a familiar face on our TV screens read more over many years, and known throughout the industry for his tireless work as President of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts amongst a plethora of other initiatives all encouraging young people to come into our wonderful industry.
Inspired by his older brother Chris, Jeff started his career at the same small neighbourhood restaurant where Chris once washed the pots for Anthony Worrall-Thompson. After completing catering read more college, Jeff joined The Savoy hotel as a young Commis under the direction of Anton Edelman before progressing to the role of Junior Sous Chef at David Levin’s Michelin-starred Capital Hotel working for renowned Chef, Philip Britten. In 1994 he was appointed by Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico at 90 Park Lane as Sous Chef and was part of the kitchen brigade that achieved the elusive third Michelin star. He joined Chris for the opening of Orrery in Marylebone in 1997 before being reunited with David Levin as Head Chef at The Greenhouse restaurant in Mayfair. His Michelin-starred experience led to his appointment at Marco Pierre White’s three Michelin-starred Oak Room, where he was Head Chef under the direction of Robert Reid, and in May 2000 Marco appointed him as Executive Chef at L’Escargot which held a Michelin star for five years. In September 2005, he teamed up with Chris to launch their own venture, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe and so their partnership continues to this day. In 2013 Jeff was awarded the prestigious Master of Culinary Arts (MCA). Held every four years, the MCA is the UK hospitality industry’s most prestigious award.
CORE by Clare Smyth
Clare Smyth is the first and only female chef to run a restaurant with three Michelin stars in the UK. Her restaurant, Core opened in 2017 and has received unprecedented awards in its first year read more including two stars in the 2019 Michelin Guide, 10/10 in the Good Food Guide and 5/5 AA Rosettes.
Tom’s career started as commis chef at Calcot Manor, Gloucestershire. He worked for Stephen Bull and Gary Rhodes before joining Odette’s, Primrose Hill, then Monsieur Max,
Hampton and ran the Michelin-starred restaurant, Adlards, Norwich. In 2005, he opened his own place, The Hand & Flowers, Marlow. Tom’s career has grown with the support of his wife Beth and many members of key staff. In 2011 The Hand & Flowers became the first pub to receive two Michelin stars. In 2014, The Coach, Marlow opened and received three AA Rosettes in 2015 and a Michelin star in 2017. In 2017 Tom opened The Butcher’s Tap, a fully operational butchers and pub under one roof. In 2018, his first London restaurant Kerridge’s Bar & Grill, in Corinthia Hotel London opened. He has appeared in television programmes including Great British Menu, Great British Food Revival, Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food, hosting Saturday Kitchen and was the lead presenter of the first series of Bake Off: Crème de la Crème. His own television series include Lose Weight For Good, Top of the Shop, Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start. Tom is also the author of best-selling cookbooks.
Tom Aikens is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and inspirational British chefs. His father worked in the wine industry, Tom spent his childhood gardening and cooking with his mother which put food read more and using the finest ingredients at the centre of his life from a very early age. His remarkable career took him to David Cavalier’s in Battersea, Pierre Koffman’s La Tante Claire, Joel Robuchon in Paris, Gerard Boyere’s in Riems and Pied-à-Terre where Tom became the youngest British chef ever to be awarded two Michelin stars, aged just 26. Tom currently has Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea which opened in 2006. He launched a new sharing concept, Pots, Pans & Boards, in Dubai in 2015 and in October 2018 in Abu Dhabi Tom successfully launched 3 restaurants in the New Edition Hotel, Ian Schrager’s ground-breaking hotel concept, in collaboration with Marriott International.
Yorkshire-born Hansom left home at 16 to embark on her culinary dream, bravely moving to London to take a place at Westminster Kingsway College. She spent a year at Boundary Restaurant read more then moved to The Ritz London. There she gained a Distinction in her Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Apprenticeship, and over 4 years progressed from commis to Chef de Partie. Hansom has won a plethora of awards including the Michael Bourdin Scholarship 2016, Craft Guild Diploma Award 2017 and 2017 Young National Chef of the Year. In 2018 she caught the eye of chef Atul Kochhar on Million Pound Menu and received an offer of investment. Ruth is now Head Chef at Pomona’s restaurant in Notting Hill.
Claude is the son of Italian parents who moved to France to open a restaurant. He was raised in Lyon, surrounded by food, where his passion for cooking and working in the kitchen began. In his early twenties, read more he moved to England as sous chef at Overton Grange, a small restaurant in Ludlow, Shropshire and was quickly promoted to head chef. In January 1999 the restaurant received its first Michelin star.In 2000 opened his own restaurant, named after his ‘favourite flower’ and in 2004 he received his second Michelin Star. In 2007 Claude relocated to London A trip to Japan in 2008 injected a new wave of passion into his approach to cooking. In 2017 he moved into South Kensington’s iconic Michelin building, Bibendum, where he was awarded two Michelin stars 6 months later. Claude is known for combining highly skilled classical techniques with the world’s best produce. His interests include hunting, shooting, skiing, travelling and spending time with his young family.
Chris Galvin’s career has spanned 30 years working in some of the finest restaurants and hotels on both sides of the Atlantic. Originally inspired by the cooking of his grandmother, Chris started read more in a small neighbourhood restaurant as a pot washer for Anthony Worrall-Thompson before joining the brigade at The Ritz hotel in London as a young Commis under the direction of Michael Quinn. His talent, enthusiasm and dedication was soon spotted by acclaimed Chef Paul Gayler, who first brought him into his kitchen brigade at Inigo Jones before recruiting him again many years later at The Lanesborough hotel as Executive Sous Chef. He also teamed up again with Worrall-Thompson in New York as Head Chef at Ménage à Trois. In 1997 Chris joined Conran Restaurants where he worked directly with Sir Terence Conran for 10 years; opening restaurants Mezzo, Bluebird and as co-founder of Almeida. The launch of Orrery, where he worked for many years, saw him achieve a coveted Michelin star in 2000. In 2003 Chris was appointed by Jeremy King and Chris Corbin to open the much-acclaimed Wolseley restaurant where he established, amongst other things, the now famous Wolseley breakfast. The restaurant went on to earn numerous accolades including Time Out Restaurant of the Year, AA London Restaurant of the Year and inclusion in Restaurant Magazine’s ‘50 Best Restaurants in the World’ for two consecutive years.
Playing a vital role in COYA’s success & menu development, Sanjay is the restaurant’s Culinary Director, overseeing COYA’s flagship venue in Mayfair, along with COYA in Monte Carlo, Dubái read more & Abu Dhabi. Sanjay has been instrumental in creating ground-breaking menus which don’t fall into just one category; instead the food served at COYA spans several cuisines, and highlights a melting pot of flavors, techniques and skills. Sanjay is a raconteur of the culinary world. A man who isn’t afraid of blending the abstract with the mundane, he is forever improving and researching, in order for him to stay ahead of the trends and translate them to a global audience.
Currently overseeing the food programme at The Conduit, Labron-Johnson is an award-winning chef, passionate about the future of food. Honing his skills at Michelin Starred read more restaurants across Europe before settling in London, Merlin gained his own Michelin Star for Portland in 2015 at the age of 24, just 9 months after opening.
Antonio’s professional journey has included success in Europe’s Michelin-starred restaurants and experience as a private chef. He was born in Guardia Perticara, Southern Italy where deep-rooted gastronomic traditions still inform his cooking today. read more After studying at the Istituto Alberghiero di Potenza, working nights in restaurants refining his skills, he worked his way up the ladder in restaurants and hotels in Rome, Florence, Milan before his ambition took him to kitchens in Tenerife, Marbella and other famous destinations. Working with two highly influential chefs, Michelin-starred Juan Pablo Felipe, Madrid, and Nino Graziano, Moscow led him to enter into gourmet catering: being a part of the El Chaflán brigade for a year and directing the Semifreddo-Mulinazzo. In 2016 at the age of 29, Antonio was a finalist in the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 competition, one of his proudest accomplishments. His luxurious cuisine currently shines in Rampoldi, Monte Carlo.
Matthew Ryle cut his culinary teeth training in his first weekend job at Michelin starred L’Ortolan in Berkshire before rising through fine dining ranks to head chef of internationally read more revered kitchens. Matthew won the support of the MasterChef: The Professionals audience in late 2018 with inventive dishes which stunned the judges. Matthew is currently working towards his new restaurant which will launch in London later this year.
Adam Handling is the multi award-winning Chef/Owner of the Adam Handling Restaurant Group which includes Frog by Adam Handling and Eve Bar in Covent Garden, Adam Handling Chelsea and all F & B operations at the Belmond Cadogan Hotel, and The Frog Hoxton. read more A highly accomplished chef, Adam Handling’s beautifully presented modern British dishes start with careful sourcing of top quality, seasonal ingredients, prepared in a number of different, creative ways to enhance their inherent properties and deliver real depth of flavour and harmony whilst maintaining a firm commitment to sustainability.
Chef Winner YCYW 2019
Rich learned his trade under the tutelage of Michelin-starred Chef Hywel Jones at Lucknam Park Hotel before moving to Austria where he worked at Ikarus, the acclaimed Michelin two-starred restaurant at Red Bull’s Hangar 7 in Salzburg. read more Back in UK, encouraged by Hywel Jones, he rejoined the team at Lucknam leading in 2019 to Rich achieving the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts prestigious Annual Award of Excellence and then winning the Chef category of Young Chef Young Waiter. Following the competition, renowned Chef Tom Aikens, a YCYW judge, invited Rich to join his brigade at Muse, his new flagship restaurant in London.
Calabrian born Francesco Mazzei has his first taste of the professional kitchen working in his uncle’s Gelateria. It was at the age of fourteen where his natural talent was recognised by renowned Italian chef, Angelo Sabetto, who encouraged Francesco’s journey into becoming a chef himself.
After having attended catering college in Calabria, Francesco moved to Rome in 1992 where he worked in the Grand Hotel until 1996 as a Sous Chef. Then moving to The Dorchester in Mayfair, London. Following his time in London, Mazzei returned to Rome to work at the Michelin-starred Eden Terazza. He then moved on to open restaurants all over the world, between 2004 – 2007 including the Santini Restaurants in London, Edinburgh and Milan, Anda with Alan Yau on Baker Street, Hakkasan (Istanbul and Miami) and Yauatcha.
L’Anima, Francesco’s first restaurant opened in London in 2008 (until 2015) with a menu inspired by traditional cooking from Calabria, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia. Francesco went on to release his first cookbook Mezzogiorno: Francesco Mazzei Recipes from Southern Italy and became a regular feature on BBC shows including Saturday Kitchen, MasterChef, The James Martin Show and on the Italian edition of Hell’s Kitchen with Carlo Cracco.
In 2015, Francesco took up a position as Chef Patron at D&D’s Sartoria on Savile Rowe in Mayfair. His restaurant Radici opened in 2017, showcasing simple Calabrian cooking in a relaxed and rustic Islington site. Francesco’s most recent opening (also in 2017), Fiume in Battersea, is inspired by southern Italian flavours from the coastal regions and islands off Italy including the Amalfi coast, Sardinia and Sicily, the modern Italian restaurant overlooks the Thames.
Simon’s career started at Amberley Castle, a Small Luxury House hotel. After completing his HND in Hospitality Management, he moved to London. read more While working at The Ritz he won 'Young Waiter of the Year’ 2000'. In 2001 Simon joined Gordon Ramsay, managing his flagship restaurant at Royal Hospital Road and opened the Savoy Grill with Marcus Wareing. He worked with Heston Blumenthal as Operations Manager for the Fat Duck Group on projects including the launch of Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental. In October 2014 moved to New York, working for Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, managing the Modern. March 2018 saw Simon return to London as Operations Director for JKS, overseeing their 16 sites. Simon now runs his own business Igniting Hospitality where he shares his knowledge and experiences advising, inspiring and helping other businesses fulfil their potential.
The Ivy Collection
Hospitality runs through Johanna’s veins, selling cakes and coffees from a young age at her uncle’s coffee shop in Austria. In 2000, she established her love for London at Anton Mosimann’s read more private dining club. Whilst there, Johanna won the Young Waiter award in 2002, before joining Jason Atherton for the opening of Maze in 2005. Johanna’s passion for development and training fully evolved when she joined Westminster Kingsway College as a lecturer in 2007 where she trained students on the art of service and hospitality. In 2015, Johanna joined The Ivy Collection as part of the people and training team. Here, she plays a vital role in staff training, assisting ahead of all openings and ensuring team members are moving ahead in their careers.
Andrew has been in the hospitality industry for over 40 years, since staring as a hall porter at the tender age of 13 and first became a general manager 30 years ago.
He has worked throughout the UK for companies such as Stakis, Prince of Wales,Intercontinental and Shire Hotels. He has been Managing Director of The Vineyard Group since 1998 and overseas The Vineyard at Stockcross, Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa, The Barns Hotel, two golf clubs and the wine wholesaler The Vineyard Cellars.
Andrew is a former Hotelier of the Year, a past chairman of Master Innholders, a multiple Catey winner and sits on the Court of Worshipful Company of Innholders. He is chairman of The Watermill Theatre in Newbury and chairs the SE region of UK Hospitality, and is a trustee of various charities including, Lord Forte Foundation and Swings and Smiles children’s charity.
Anne Lomas, Director of Restaurants at The Savoy, oversees the three Savoy restaurants as well as the In-Room Dining offering, Melba and Savoy Tea. read more Anne began working in hospitality by chance aged eighteen; whilst travelling in New Zealand. Following this, Anne moved to London where her work experience includes Roast, 45 Park Lane, Shangri-La, and Simpson’s in the Strand. During her role as General Manager at Simpson’s in the Strand, Anne saw this rich-in-history establishment through a full refurbishment, and drove the restaurant to be the successful and well-loved culinary landmark it is today.
In 2003 Andy moved to London, progressing to Head Waiter for Marcus Waring at the Savoy Grill. In November 2006, he became assistant restaurant manager for the launch of Theo Randall read more at the Intercontinental before moving to Gordon Ramsay at Claridges where Andy spent 5 years, 2 as General Manager. In 2012, Andy joined D&D London as General Manager at The Old Bengal Warehouse. He then spent 3 years at Social Company with Jason Atherton managing City Social. Andy returned to D&D in 2017 as Senior General Manager for 3 venues and became Operations Manager at Park Chinois in February.
South Place Hotel
Jennifer moved from Switzerland to London in 2011, starting out at the Fenchurch Restaurant within Sky Garden she also spent time at the three Michelin starred Waterside Inn. She then crossed town read more to Sketch where she oversaw the Two-Michelin starred Lecture Room and Library. Now at South Place Hotel as Restaurant Manager, Jennifer is an expert in all things fine-dining at the Michelin-starred Angler Restaurant. Her accolades include winning the Gold Service Scholarship in 2016 (awarded her prize by HM Queen Elizabeth II) and runner-up in the 2018 Restaurant Manager of the Year competition.
67 Pall Mall
Italian-born Beatrice Bessi has been working in hospitality for 20 years. In Italy she rose to the position of Restaurant Manager, working with the Alajmo family, one of the 50 best chefs in the world. read more Thirsty to gain knowledge about wine, she left Italy to join Ronan Sayburn Master Sommelier and his team at 67 Pall Mall , starting as Junior Sommelier. She spent three and a half years studying to prepare herself for the Court of Master Sommelier, recently passing the Advanced Exam, one of the hardest in the world, in preparation for the Master Sommelier exam and her hard work paid off. Eighteen months ago, Beatrice was promoted to become Assistant Head Sommelier to Terry Kandylis at 67 Pall Mall.
James Fleming started his hospitality career in a less than traditional fashion; he completed a degree in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management at University in Bristol but quickly read more assessed this was not the right career for him. Whilst studying, he worked at Brasserie Blanc in event operations and when he changed paths, he was offered a position at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons as a commis de rang. Le Manoir introduced him to the fine dining in hospitality. Next he joined The Berkeley, Knightsbridge, as a guest relations executive, then moved to The Beaumont in Mayfair as Duty Manager. He is currently Reception Manager at The Stafford,St James. James won the Gold Service Scholarship (2014) and achieved the qualification of the Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders Diploma. In 2018, James won the prestigious Acorn Award, which celebrates the Top 30 under 30 in the hospitality sector.
Delta Lambda Hospitality
Dimitris ‘Dimi’ Leivadas is an internationally respected hospitality expert, with extensive achievements and accolades in the premium Restaurant and Hotel market (The Fat Duck, read more Matsuhisa Mykonos, Nobu@Badrutt’s Palace St Moritz, Derby Hotels Collection in Barcelona). Dimi is the Founder & CEO of Delta Lambda Hospitality, a boutique global hospitality consultancy with a portfolio of leading restaurant and hotel brands. He is Curator of BBVA Bilbao Food Capital, advisor and partner to startups, and visiting lecturer at Hospitality Schools across UK & Europe. He judges service skills competitions and develops projects related to premium customer service in collaboration with elite clients in Hospitality, Education, Luxury Brands, Private Banking and Health Care.
Alessandro fell in love with the hospitality industry working alongside his parent’s in their restaurant at 14 years old. read more After hospitality school and few years of experience in Italy, he moved to London 3 years ago, where humble beginnings began as a commis waiter at Fera at Claridge’s (Michelin star), where he first learnt about international hospitality and built the bases for his career. For one year he worked at Jean-George at the Connaught and he decided to improve his knowledge with a university degree in hotel management at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David. After winning 2019 YCYW competition, Waiter category, he now works at the newly open Grill at the Dorchester as headwaiter.
Adam has been a People Development professional for more than 10 years, most notably as Head of Learning and Development for the fine dining Hospitality group, D&D London. read more The aim of his current role is to ensure that employees working in D&D London’s 43 restaurants are performing at their best at each part of their journey, from onboarding to management development. Adam is renowned for his views on learning and is a prominent keynote speaker on topics around modern and digital L&D.