The Sodexo executive head chef at Everton Football Club won a prestigious Craft Guild of Chefs Award last week (1 June).

Gareth Billington, who is based at the Sodexo Sports & Leisure contract at Goodison Park, was named the People’s Choice at the annual ceremony to celebrate the crème de la crème of the industry.

In front of an 800-strong audience at the Lancaster London Hotel, Gareth collected his award after receiving more than 1,000 online votes from his industry peers.

Gareth’s career has spanned more than 30 years, and includes training at London’s renowned Garrick Club and managing the patisserie section of the QE2 cruise liner.

Gareth is also widely regarded within the catering industry for his mentoring of young chefs, through Springboard’s FutureChef initiative, which helps young people learn cookery skills and train for careers in the hospitality industry. Gareth has mentored two of the last three FutureChef winners.

Sodexo also sponsored the Craft Guild of Chefs Special Award, which went to Michelin-starred chef-restaurateurs Chris and Jeff Galvin in recognition of their market-leading restaurants and wider contribution to the hospitality industry.

Four other Sodexo chefs were shortlisted for Craft Guild of Chefs Awards: Jacob Webb (in the Apprentice Chef category), Tim Roberts (Public Sector Chef), Glynn Lawrence and Liam McDonough (both for Contract Catering Chef).

David Mulcahy, Sodexo craft director and Craft Guild of Chefs vice president, said: “Congratulations to Gareth Billington on his award which is truly deserved. As well as being an excellent chef at Goodison Park, Gareth is bringing through young talent into the industry; he has mentored two of the last three FutureChef winners.

“Congratulations also go to the four Sodexo chefs shortlisted. The Craft Guild of Chefs Awards is incredibly competitive and just to be a finalist is an achievement in itself.

“Well done to Chris and Jeff Galvin on collecting the Sodexo-sponsored Craft Guild of Chefs Special Award.”

Gareth Billington, Sodexo Sports & Leisure executive head chef, said: “These awards are our industry’s version of the Oscars and I was incredibly surprised to win, particularly as I was up against stiff competition from people whose skill and experience I greatly admire.

“This award is very precious to me indeed as I was voted for by my peers within the industry.

“I didn’t think so many people knew me or thought so highly of me – it’s actually very humbling and I’m very proud and touched to have won.”

Oliver Wright, Everton’s Head of Hospitality, said: “We are absolutely delighted for Gareth and this award is thoroughly deserved.

“He and his team produce some of the finest food on offer in the Premier League, something our loyal matchday hospitality members would all agree with.

“In addition, Gareth is a true professional and is committed to finding and training local young people to realise their potential, which is very important to us here at Everton.”

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