Fuller’s Chef of the Year Winners for 2019

Luke Emmess, Head Chef of The Still & West in Portsmouth, has been named Fuller’s Chef of the Year for 2019, winning a four-day placement in British Chef Simon Rogan’s new restaurant in Hong Kong.

There were four categories in the competition - Fuller’s Chef of the Year, Junior Chef of the Year for the under 24 years category, Service Coach of the Year for front of house, and this year saw the introduction of College Chef of the Year, which opened the competition to cooking students from Fuller’s partner colleges. All category winners have won a trip to Hong Kong.

The final cook-off took place at Havant & South Downs College in Portsmouth, where finalists were judged on their techniques, flavour, execution and service by an expert judging panel of 12 leading industry individuals – including Michelin Star Chefs – with seven judges for food and five for service.

The eight finalists for Chef of the Year were challenged with designing a menu using pigeon for the starter, smoked cod for the main course, and pumpkin for the pudding. They were teamed with a Service Coach, who served their menus to their guests and the judges.

Winners Chef of the Year 2018

Fuller's Chef of the Year for 2019

luke emmess chef of the year 2019

Luke’s winning menu comprised of:

  • Starter: Pan roasted pigeon, heritage carrots, chard orange, crispy pigeon liver and walnut crumb with pigeon jus.
  • Main Course: Smoked cod, nosi gnocchi, Asian consommé crispy chicken skin, tarasamalata and avocado puree.
  • Pudding: Fresh pumpkin bread, pumpkin toast, roasted pumpkin seeds, oxford blue cheese, smoked bacon, maple and pumpkin chutney.

Luke also won Junior Chef of the Year in 2016, spending four days at Darren Velvick’s restaurant The Croft and Jason Atherton’s Social Marina restaurant in Dubai as the prize.

Junior Chef of the Year

Chefs competing in the Junior and College categories were tasked with creating a main course using smoked cod and a pudding made with pumpkin.

Junior Chef of the Year winner Shey Odysanwo won for his pistachio crusted malt and barley smoked cod, served with mushroom consommé, shimenji and shiitake mushrooms, followed by pumpkin macaroon, served with raspberry and pumpkin caramel, lime gel, and white chocolate and whiskey mousse.

Fuller's Kitchen Chef of the Year winners 2019

College Chef of the Year

This year Fuller's opened the competition to full time and part time students attending the seven colleges and universities that it partners with on its apprenticeship programme.

  • Gold: Jonny Smith, Havant & South Downs College.
  • Silver: Chloe Curry, Havant & South Downs College.
  • Bronze: Bayan Zuraiki, The University of West London.

The winner, Jonny Smith from Havant & South Downs College [below], won for his malt and barley smoked cod loin served with leeks, Jersey royals, egg and wholegrain mustard, followed by his pumpkin baked Alaska pudding.

college chef of the year 2019

Service Coach of the Year

Fuller’s Service Coach of the Year recognises excellence in front of house service. Niamh from The Ship Inn in Langstone won for her flawless, professional service, knowledge of ingredients and drink recommendations.

Fuller's Kitchen Chef of the Year winners 2019

Fuller's Director of Food, Paul Dickinson, said:

“I’m completely blown away by the talent of this year’s competitors. All the finalists truly exceeded my expectations with the skills, techniques and creativity used with the ingredients given to them, and the front of house service, which is integral to everything we do, has truly raised the bar this year. 

“With the introduction of College Chef of the Year, I wanted to inspire and give insight to future talent, showing that they can have a creative career as a chef at Fuller’s. The students displayed the skills, knowledge, passion and self-confidence of experienced chefs. And, as potential head chefs of the future, seeing the young talent coming through inspires me to continue the work we do.

“Congratulations to our Chef of the Year winners for 2019, and to everyone who competed. I'm very proud of everyone who took part, came through, developed and contributed, and I look forward to next year’s competition.

“Chef of the Year celebrates our core values of doing things the right way, being part of the Fuller's family, celebrating individuality and always asking 'what's next?'" - Paul Dickinson, Director of Food.

Thank you to our judges: 

  • David Williams, Chairman of the judging panel.
  • Matthew Tomkinson, Michelin Star Chef, The King’s Head, Whiteparish.
  • Mickael Weiss, Chef & Restaurant Consultant.
  • Dr Andreas Antona – Bocuse d'Or UK Chairman.
  • Tracey Nash, Hampshire Fare Commercial Manager.
  • Billy Owton, CEO Owtons Butchers.
  • Josh Green, British Pub & Bar Association. 
  • Danny Pecorelli, Exclusive Hotels and Venues Managing Director. 
  • Sunil Kanjanghat, Lainston House General Manager.
  • John Harding, Owtons Butchers General Manager. 
  • Pierre, Service Expert.

Fuller’s Chef Apprenticeships

Fuller’s is recruiting talented and passionate people to take part in our Chef Apprenticeship Programmes and become our Head Chefs of the future.

Find out more: Fuller’s Chef Apprenticeships

Become a Fuller's Chef

Fuller’s has a range of exciting job opportunities in our pubs, from Commis Chef roles to Head Chef positions.

Find out more: Fuller’s pub and hotel jobs.

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