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Great chefs.jpgTuesday night’s Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Awards of excellence dinner at Claridge’s brought another hectic summer events season to a close. Well done to all of the winners. I was sat beside Newcastle chef-proprietor Terry Laybourne, who told me about some of the culinary books that have inspired him during his career. Top of his list was Quentin Crewe and Anthony Blake’s Great Chefs of France, which he says he still rereads from time to time. What food-related books do you most cherish?

Last week’s Springboard summer fundraising event was also a roaring success, with Pride of Britain’s Peter Hancock hosting proceedings with his usual steady hand and witty turn of phrase – his “prick with a fork” gag was a personal highlight. In her welcome speech, Springboard chief executive Anne Pierce introduced guests to the latest addition to the Springboard team – Catey - which provided a proud moment for all on the Caterer and Hotelkeeper table.

Also, last week, there was the climax of this year’s Nestle Toque D’Or competition, which saw a team from Carlisle College beat all comers in the battle to be proclaimed the best catering college team in the country. This year’s winners would have had to look no further for inspiration than their own city centre, where 2004 winner, James Hill, now runs his own restaurant, the Bijou. Earlier this year, James, who followed his Toque D’Or success with a stint in Angela Hartnett’s kitchen at the Connaught in London’s Mayfair, told the Caterer that the competition gave him a “really good insight into the whole concept of catering that has helped me in the running of my own business.  I realised that running a restaurant is more than just cooking and serving up dishes – it’s about what your business represents, how to plan it successfully and the messaging you wish to place behind it.” Well done to Nestle Professional for facilitating such a valuable educational process, and congratulations to the team from Carlisle College for its tremendous success.