Head chef Neil Yule won the grand finale of Sodexo Chef of the Year 2015 at the Hospitality Show in Birmingham.

Neil won gold best in class after a grueling 90-minute cook off with seven other top chefs from across Sodexo UK and Ireland’s business.

With a strong emphasis on seasonal, sustainable produce, Neil and his commis chef Daniel Taw, had to produce an exciting three-course menu to include a sea bass starter, British or Irish Lamb as a main course and an innovative dessert using Bramley apples.

National Chef of the Year Russell Bateman, Michelin-starred Alyn Williams and Sodexo Chef of the Year 2014 Louisa Matthews, junior sous at Eton College, were among the team of judges who chose Neil’s three-courses over those prepared by his colleagues.

Bateman and Williams were also on hand at a Sodexo Chef of the Year mentor day in which Neil took part last month. Watch the video.

Neil is based at the Sodexo Corporate Services contract at GSK Mansion House in North Mymms, where he’s responsible for a dozen catering and hospitality staff delivering lunches, buffets and fine dining for up to 150 people at a time.

As winner, Neil will take part in a unique study trip focusing on British artisan producers. This will include a hands on training activity at River Cottage, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s award-winning cookery school.

Tom Beauchamp of South Queensferry (Prestige Scotland) came second and also took home a gold medal. Danilo Barbagallo from Bateaux London (Prestige) came third, taking silver.

Sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions, Churchill and Leathams, the Sodexo Chef of the Year final was held in the Live Theatre on day two of the Hospitality Show on Tuesday 20 January.

Neil Yule, head chef for Sodexo at GSK Mansion House, said, “It’s a fantastic feeling to win and it’s been a great day out. I was a little bit nervous before the start, but once I got into the 90 minutes I really enjoyed the experience. Daniel and I only got the chance to practice together once before the contest, but once it got under way we were able to get ahead of schedule and give ourselves time to produce dishes the judges seem to have liked.”

David Mulcahy, craft development director for Sodexo, and the competition organiser, said, “It was an extremely competitive field and there wasn’t much in it for the judges, who were highly impressed with the quality of dishes from all competitors but Neil put in an excellent performance on the day to claim the top spot. Not only does this contest help identify talent, it also helps Sodexo keep our clients excited and interested, it improves the skills of the chefs, and the quality of the food that we serve every day.”

Final placings

  • 1st place (Gold) Neil Yule, GSK, Corporate Services International Large Accounts

  • 2nd place (Gold) Tom Beauchamp, South Queensferry, Prestige Scotland

  • 3rd place (Silver) Danilo Barbagallo, Bateaux London, Prestige

  • Bronze - Darren Poulton, Santander, Corporate Services

  • Bronze - Andy Clarkson, Aliwal Barracks, Defence

  • Bronze - Jonathan Preece, Leeds Nuffield, Healthcare

  • Merit - Lea Eastman-Thompson, LVS, Education

  • Merit - Dennis McCarroll, Almac, Corporate Services Ireland


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