Executive head chef Lloyd Walker won the grand finale of Sodexo Chef of the Year 2016 at Hotelympia in the ExCeL Centre on Tuesday (1 March).

Lloyd won gold best in class after a competitive 90-minute cook off against nine other top chefs from across Sodexo UK & Ireland’s business.

Sodexo Chef of the Year judge Raymond Blanc OBE presented Lloyd with the first prize, which includes working with Raymond and his team the new Jardin Blanc Hospitality Village and Queen Elizabeth II Suite at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a new partnership between Blanc and Sodexo.

National Chef of the Year 2014 Russell Bateman and Michelin-starred Alyn Williams were also among the 12-strong judging line up.

Runner up Andrew Clarkson from Sodexo Defence (silver) and third-placed Ross Clarke from Sodexo Sports & Leisure (also silver) will join Lloyd on a gastronomic tour of Palma, Majorca, as part of the prize.

Lloyd is based at the Sodexo Corporate Services contract at Unilever House 100 Victoria Embankment in London, where he’s responsible for a team of nine chefs providing 100 covers a day in corporate and executive dining, as well as 500 covers a day in the staff restaurant.

Lloyd and his commis chef Ronnel Nulud prepared a starter of pan-fried fresh hake with fennel, compressed cucumber, samphire, burnt lemon and carrot-olive puree, a main of roast guinea fowl with stuffing of pine nuts and marjoram served with spring onion-chive risotto, pickled shallot, nasturtium and burnt butter jus, and a chocolate tart with hazelnut brittle, vanilla ice cream and praline powder.

Sponsored by Churchill, Leathams, Knorr and Barry Callebaut the Sodexo Chef of the Year final was held in the Live Theatre on day two of the Hospitality Show.

Also at Hotelympia on Tuesday, the Sodexo team won the best in class (silver) in La Parade des Chefs food sector challenge.

Sodexo Chef of the Year final - results

1st place (Gold) – Lloyd Walker, Unilever, Corporate Services
2nd place (Silver) – Andy Clarkson, Aliwal Barracks, Defence
3rd place (Silver) – Ross Clark, CPU South Queensferry, Sports & Leisure
Bronze – Adam Collison, AstraZeneca, Corporate Services
Bronze – Daniel Trace, Schools
Bronze – David Fountain, PayPal Europe Services, Ireland, Corporate Services
Merit – Phillip Thomas, Henderson Global Investors, Corporate Services
Merit – David Hussey, Eton College, Schools
Merit – Tom Bill, Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital, Healthcare
Merit – Hrvoje Loncarevic, American Express Community Stadium, Sports & Leisure

Lloyd Walker, Sodexo Corporate Services executive head chef, said, “It’s a great feeling to win. In the competition I just tried to keep it simple and get the flavour right. That was the advice I got from Alyn Williams at the mentor day and it really paid off. It was great to meet Raymond too.”

Raymond Blanc OBE said at the presentation ceremony, “I was amazed by the extraordinary standards from all the chefs today. They demonstrated some brilliant skills when working with the ingredients, especially the hake and the guinea fowl. It is good to see the investment and energy that Sodexo puts into events like this.”

David Mulcahy, craft development director for Sodexo, and the competition organiser, said, “This year we had our best ever judging line up for Sodexo Chef of the Year and the finalists responded with some fantastic dishes. Lloyd’s got great culinary talent and prepared some amazing food, his gold medal best in class was very well earned. I’d like to thank all the judges, competitors, sponsors and those who came along to support. Everyone came together to make this an unforgettable event,

“Overall, it was a great day at Hotelympia for Sodexo, with the Les Parade des Chefs team winning best in class for food sector. Well done to everyone involved.”

Sodexo Chef of the Year judges

  • Raymond Blanc OBE, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
  • Derry Clarke, L’Ecrivain
  • Russell Bateman, Colettes, The Grove
  • Alyn Williams, Restaurant Alyn Williams
  • Lewis Hamblet, South Lodge, Horsham
  • Mark Hill, The House of Commons
  • Ben Tish, Salt Yard Group
  • Olivier Geyer, Leathams
  • Dan Doherty, Duck and Waffle
  • James Tanner, The Kentish Hare
  • Sarah Hartnett, Chef Patissiere
  • Vivek Singh, Cinnamon Kitchen

Sodexo team – La Parade des Chefs

  • Tom Allen, Independent Education
  • Steven Wylie, Independent Education
  • Mark Wetherill, Corporate Services
  • Louisa May Matthews, Independent Education
  • Tom Beauchamp, Sports and Leisure
  • Andy Voice, Independent Education
  • Robin Turner, Central Culinary Team


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