Two prominent Welsh chefs both said they felt humbled to be among the winners at the inaugural Chef Mentor Awards, designed to recognise the most inspiring mentors in the sector, last night (Tuesday).
Held at Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, the awards brought together leaders from restaurant, hotel, catering and education establishments to celebrate individuals who have trained, nurtured and inspired chefs in kitchens across the UK.
The award for Best Hotel Chef Mentor, in association with McVitie’s, went to Hywel Jones, executive head chef at Lucknam Park at Colerne, near Chippenham while the Best Contract Catering Chef Mentor award, in association with Hope & Glory Tea, went to Colin Gray of Capital Cuisine, Caerphilly.
Hywel’s reaction to the award: “Amazing, it’s quite humbling. I don’t consider myself as a mentor but I guess, at my age, I have got young people working under me. To be a good mentor, you have to have been mentored by good people.
“I have had some very good mentors during my career, including my parents. This award is as much for them as it is for me.”
Colin, who is vice president of the Culinary Association of Wales, a Worldchefs judge and former member of Culinary Team Wales, said he was shocked to receive the award.
“I didn’t expect to win the award,” he added. “I have been involved in mentoring chefs over the years without expecting recognition. To be honoured in this way is very humbling and hopefully it will inspire other Welsh chefs to become mentors.”
The Rising Star Chef Mentor award was presented to Leon Seraphin, of Beyond Food CIC by Katy Godsell, marketing manager of Welshpool-based Cambrian Training Company, award sponsor.
Cyrus Todiwala, OBE, chair of judges, said: “We’d like to congratulate all the winners in what was an incredibly difficult competition to judge. Every single one of the chefs who were nominated have given so much to the industry and have helped us continue to be one of the most significant contributors to the UK economy.
“All the mentors deserve recognition and we’d like to express our sincere thanks for all they do. Our industry is built on the talent, hard work and total commitment to development of many of our winners tonight.”
The awards were held as part of H&C EXPO, a two-day event designed to help future-proof the industry and the first of its type for the sector.