Press release   •   Mar 15, 2012 12:00 GMT

Picture - Winner Simon Webb with Hugh Judd, EBLEX (left) & Russell Allen (right)

Simon Webb, head chef at Restaurant Associates, Merrill Lynch restaurant in London, has been crowned British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year 2012, following a live final held at Hotelympia recently.

As the [13th] winner of the competition, Simon joins an elite group of past winners and Michelin starred chefs which include Simon Hulstone, Richard Turner and Adam Bennett.

Sponsored by EBLEX and a national catering butcher, Simon received his award, together with a cheque for £2,500, from EBLEX foodservice project manager, Hugh Judd and Russell Allen, director at the catering butcher. 

Simon’s culinary talents impressed the celebrity line-up of top judges which included Raymond Blanc, Alain Roux, Ashley Palmer-Watts, Roger Narbett, Matt Cheal and Idris Caldora. Roger Narbett said: "Simon stood out by demonstrating great cooking skills and he produced food to a very high order.”

Simon was one of ten leading UK chefs to reach the live final cook off, which was compered under the watchful eye of TV celebrity chef, Brian Turner. All the finalists were tasked with producing a three course meal for two for the live final, which centred on using the Cap/Picanha muscle of Dry Aged Beef, which they had to prepare and butcher themselves for the main dish.

The ten were selected following an intense semi-final cook-off held in January. As part of the competition, all the finalists had to attend a butchery masterclass organised by EBLEX, held at the catering butcher’s office in Coventry. The experience enabled the chefs to enhance their butchery skills and learn more about how to prepare inspiring and innovative cuts of meat in preparation for the final judging.

Simon’s winning menu was Flame Grilled Cornish Mackerel, Salt Baked Beetroots, Pickled Radish, Crab and Coastal Leaves followed by Slow Cooked Rump Cap of Suckler Beef, Smoked Parsnip, Buckwheat, Blue Cheese and Bone Marrow with Heritage Apple and Honey Cake, Brown Butter, Spiced Raisins and Cider for dessert.

Commenting, Peter Griffiths, president of the British Culinary Federation and Salon Director of Hotelympia, said: "The competition, which is open to all chefs, provides a fantastic opportunity for both new and established professionals to showcase their cutting-edge creativity and be recognised for their talent and culinary skills. We have an outstanding winner in Simon Webb this year, who undoubtedly will be a name to watch in the future and go on to reach new culinary heights.”

Filled with excitement following his success, Simon said: "Taking part in the BCF Chef of the Year competition is the highlight of my career to date. I look forward to making the most of opportunities that arise as a result of winning this award”.

The other finalists were: 

1. Michael Tweedie, Lucknam Park Hotel, Bath
2. Byron Franklin, Pembroke College, Cambridge
3. Sheldon Fonseca, The Dorchester Hotel, London
4. Raymond Thomson, Stirling Management Centre, Scotland
5. Carlos Martinez, Cliveden House, Taplow
6. Colin Layfield, Paramount Restaurant, London, who came third
7. Adam Simmonds, Danesfield House Hotel, Marlow
8. Adam Smith, The Ritz Hotel, London, who came second
9. Dez Turland, Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon

EBLEX is the organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England and is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

It exists to enhance the profitability and sustainability of the English beef and lamb sector. Its aims are:

  • To help the beef and sheep meat supply chain become more efficient
  • To add value to the beef and sheep meat industry.  

The EBLEX Trade Marketing team supports businesses throughout the retail and foodservice supply chains for beef and lamb. From abattoirs and processors to wholesalers, independent and multiple retailers and foodservice operators, we work with businesses to improve their operational effectiveness and assist with beef and lamb product development, marketing and promotion.Visit our websiteTwitter. Facebook.