BCF Young Chef of the Year 2018



Matthew Nicholls of Cheal’s of Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire was crowned the winner of the British Culinary Federation’s Young Chef of the Year 2018 held at University College Birmingham on Monday 5th November. Having entered this competition on four occasions, he was over the moon when his name was announced.

Both the morning and afternoon heats, with nine finalists in each, were full of fierce competition, highlighting excellent skills and innovative dishes. Millie Tibbins of University College Birmingham was runner-up, with Ben Cowley of Michelin-starred Simpson’s restaurant, Edgbaston, Birmingham coming third.

Awards were also presented for Best Starter, Main Course and Dessert. Megan Carter from the Red Lion, Bradley, Staffordshire picked up the award for her starter; best main course went to Matthew Nicholls, with Jacob Major of Michelin-starred the Manor House, Castle Coombe, Wiltshire winning the award for the best dessert.


Competition organiser and BCF President Peter Griffiths, who announced the awards, which were presented by BCF Chairman Stuart McLeod, said that the BCF Young Chef of the Year continues to attract interest from right across the industry, including many renowned establishments who between them this year accumulated six Michelin stars. This year’s final once again highlighted the exceptional young talent we have working in the industry today. The quality of these young people’s cooking, along with the skills shown, was outstanding; they were a credit to themselves and the industry.

Competitors had two hours to produce a three-course meal for two covers, highlighting British produce and with the first course being suitable for a vegetarian. They also had to use at least one product from the Major International range.

Finalists were:

Louis O’Hara, Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire
Amrita Phull, Buckland Manor, Broadway, Worcestershire
Jacob Major,The Manor House Hotel and Golf Club, Chippenham, Wiltshire
Ben Cowley, Simpson’s restaurant, Edgbaston
Megan Connor, The Red Lion, Bradley, Staffordshire
Harvey Perttola, Swinfen Hall, Lichfield, Staffordshire
Adam Shohet, Portland Restaurant, London
Monty Stonehewer, Hampton Manor, Warwickshire
Theo Hadjitofi, De Banke Group, Solihull
Matthew Nicholls, Cheal’s of Henley, Warwickshire
Rhys McCausland, Houses of Parliament, London
James Prout, The Wild Rabbit, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
Millie Tibbins, University College Birmingham
Callum Wood, North Warwickshire and Hinckley College
Sam King, The Ritz, London
Fraser Cooper, Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel, Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire
Katie Cooper, Carter’s of Moseley, Birmingham
Enrique Diez, The Frog at Hoxton, London


As well as receiving the David Bache Trophy, Matthew was presented with a cheque for £500, commemorative plate, framed certificate, a special dispenser presented by Wrapmaster, a personalised chef’s jacket sponsored by CCS, an invitation to a celebration lunch, courtesy of Villeroy & Boch, plus automatic seeding into the National Young Chef of the Year 2019.

The Awards Dinner was attended by over 90 industry guests. Thanks to Chef’s Butcher, Alan Healy of Aubrey Allen for sponsoring the Beef for the main course and to University College Birmingham for their hospitality and the use of their excellent facilities.

Over the years, this competition, sponsored by Major International, Bidfood, Wrapmaster, Contacto and Villeroy & Boch, has discovered some incredible talent and continues to attract a host of young chefs from a diverse range of establishments around the UK.

Judges this year were Adam Smith, Executive Chef, Coworth Park, Berkshire; BCF Chairman Stuart McLeod, Chef Director, Zuidam Ltd; Peter Joyner, Food Development Director, Elior; Nick Vadis, Culinary Director, Compass Group UK & Ireland; Giovanni Di Vito, Assistant Dean, College of Food, University College Birmingham; Tom Phillips, Sous-Chef, Restaurant Story, London and Bocuse d’Or UK candidate 2019 and David Colcombe, Chef Consultant and Visiting Professor, UCB.


Chadwick Farm duck egg yolk, celeriac, pearl barley, Wiltshire truffle, sour dough, wood sorrel.


Shropshire rabbit, Scottish langoustine, cauliflower, curry, parsley, yeast


Toasted almond panacotta, blackberries, frozen lemon yoghurt, toasted oats, lemon balm