Mark Austin has been named Aramark’s UK Chef of the Year after winning its annual competition to recognise the culinary talent within its organisation.
The live final took place in the new development kitchen at Aramark UK’s headquarters in Farnborough, where each of the six finalists had 90 minutes to cook two courses, four plates each, with ingredients chosen from a ‘mystery box’.
Mr Austin, who is the executive chef at Northwood Military Headquarters, was awarded the title after he impressed the distinguished panel of judges with his main dish of rabbit and pancetta boudin, offal bon bon, pea and nettle puree with leak ash emulsion.
He said: “I feel very honoured to have won the prestigious UK Chef of the Year title. After such a tough year for the hospitality industry, it’s great to get back in the kitchen and back to competitions again.”
For dessert, he served goats curd and yogurt cream, raspberry and beetroot gel, pickled beetroot and salted cocoa biscuit.
Greg Hewitt, executive chef at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, finished in second place.
He served roast Deeside venison loin, garlic potatoes, heritage beetroot, pickled carrots, and whipped goat’s curd.
His second dish consisted of rhubarb souffle, orange shortbread crumb, cinnamon cream, and rhubarb tea.
The remaining four finalists included Dan Trace, Dean Jones, Chris Swain and Cara Humphrey.
The competition is open to all of Aramark’s chefs throughout the UK, with judging carried out by Aramark ambassadors Gary Maclean and Stu Deeley as well as Paul Gayler MBE, UK managing director Helen Milligan-Smith, UK safety director Fran Collison and culinary director for defence services Mark Webber.
Paul Bloxham, culinary director at Aramark UK, said: “At the heart of Aramark is our great people and fantastic food, and that’s culminated in the chef of the Year competition. This event has been a showcase of the extraordinary culinary talent that we have in our organisation. I’d like to congratulate Mark on the win, and all of the finalists who created beautiful and delicious dishes.”
The competition had over 50 entries from around the business.
Due to the virtual nature of this year’s competition, finalists were chosen based off a two-minute video where they told the judges about themselves, their passions, and their recipes.
Following his victory, Mr Austin will now go on to compete at Aramark’s European Chef’s Cup in April 2022.