The Executive Chef of the Year is Ryan Holmes, culinary director at Eurest, part of the Compass Group.
Mr Holmes said: “I think winning this award is all about evolving in and with the industry. It’s been a tough year but if you don’t evolve and do things differently you fall behind your competitors so we had to really push ourselves, our kitchens and all of our chefs. I think that’s what we managed to do and it really had a positive effect.”
This accolade, sponsored by Panasonic and presented by UK business development manager Jared Greenhalgh, recognises that whether it is restaurants, pubs, care homes, contract caterers or any other professional foodservice business, the group executive chef has one of the most important roles to play when it comes to what happens on a kitchen level.
From creative menu development and food sourcing to kitchen specification and roll-outs, this accolade honours those individuals that are excelling in their posts.
All five finalists in the Executive Chef of the Year category are highly-respected individuals whose work in the kitchen has left a lasting impression on colleagues, customers and suppliers. The fact that they were shortlisted is testimony to their dedication, craft and leadership.
As the culinary head of Compass Group’s B&I division, Eurest, Mr Holmes has certainly seen the dynamics of workplace catering change dramatically during the pandemic, but he has embraced this challenge in keeping with the company’s ethos of innovation.
He relishes pushing boundaries and is especially focused on plant-based cooking and waste reduction. Ryan has played a central role in implementing a shift in food philosophy at the business over the past 12 months.
Although its strategy is still based on the three longstanding pillars of providing flavourful, mindful and planet-positive food, it has tweaked its food offer and menus to reflect the new catering landscape.
One of the big highlights of lockdown has been the launch of Kitchen Club, giving employees access to virtual cooking lessons from professional chefs and providing education around nutrition.
- Alice Bowyer, The Liberation Group
- Duncan McEwan, The Big Table
- Lee Brooks, McMullen & Sons
- Ryan Holmes, Eurest
- Simon Howlett, Shepherd Neame