Sodexo has announced Raymond Blanc OBE among the judges for the Sodexo Chef of the Year live final, to be held at Hotelympia next month.

The chef patron of two-Michelin starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons will join more than ten other celebrated industry chefs to judge Sodexo’s top talent as they go head-to-head in a 90-minute live cook off at London’s ExCeL.

National Chef of the Year 2014 winner Russell Bateman, L’Ecrivain proprietor Derry Clarke and Alyn Williams of Restaurant Alyn Williams are also among the judging line up.

The ten Sodexo Chef of the Year finalists will compete on Tuesday 1 March between 12.15pm and 1.45pm at the live theatre.

The prize for the winner includes the experience of working alongside Raymond Blanc and his team at the new Jardin Blanc Hospitality Village and Queen Elizabeth II Suite at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May, a partnership between Blanc and Sodexo.

In addition, the winner and two runners up will travel to Palma, Majorca, on a gastronomic food tour of the region’s producers, growers and fine dining venues.

Also on Tuesday 1 March, a Sodexo team will be one of only two from the foodservice sector to enter La Parade des Chefs. The team will prepare a three-course meal for 100 people under competition standards.

Sodexo is partnering the Springboard Student Centre at Hotelympia. Sodexo teams will be on hand to talk to young people looking to get into the hospitality industry.

David Mulcahy, Sodexo culinary director, said: “I’m proud to announce our best-ever judging line up for Sodexo Chef of the Year. Many of the judges have strong links with our business and having them as judges for the live final demonstrates the commitment and emphasis we place on culinary excellence at Sodexo.

“We have new partnerships this year with Raymond Blanc at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Ascot Racecourse; James Tanner is a consultant chef to our independent schools business; Lewis Hamblet’s son Tom spent a day working with our team at Henley Royal Regatta after winning Springboard’s FutureChef last year, and Alyn Williams and Russell Bateman return as judges from Sodexo Chef of the Year 2015.

“Our chef finalists have already had the chance of working with the judges at our mentor day, and the winner will have the fantastic opportunity of working with Raymond Blanc at our new partnership at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

“I’m delighted we have been invited to enter a team in La Parade des Chefs. As one of only eight teams competing that week, and one of two teams from the foodservice sector, this will not only be a showcase for Sodexo but an opportunity to develop our Sodexo culinary team to compete once again at this level.”

Sue Davison, Sodexo learning & development business partner, said of the partnership with Springboard: “Sodexo works closely with Springboard and as an organisation we are passionate about encouraging young people into the workplace. We recognise that supporting young talent brings a wealth of knowledge and ideas and a new perspective on ways of working. We see this as a superb opportunity to make Sodexo a recognised brand that up-and-coming talent will choose as a future employer.”

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 Chef of the Year 2016 finalists

  • Phillip Thomas, Henderson Global Investors, London – Corporate Services

  • Ross Clark, South Queensferry – Sports & Leisure

  • Adam Collison, AstraZeneca, Alderly Park – Corporate Services

  • Lloyd Walker, Unilever, London – Corporate Services

  • Andy Clarkson, Aliwal Barracks, Salisbury – Defence

  • Daniel Trace, development chef – Independent Education

  • David Hussey, Eton College – Independent Education

  • Tom Bill, Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital – Healthcare

  • David Fountain, PayPal Europe Services, Dundalk – Corporate Services, Ireland

  • Hrvoje Loncarevic, Amex Stadium, Brighton – Sports & Leisure

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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