The national treasurer of the Craft Guild of Chefs is gearing up for a double celebration after being appointed an MBE for services to the catering industry the day his son gets married.
Retired Army Captain Geoffrey Acott was officially named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List whilst travelling to Edinburgh for today’s big family occasion (Saturday, June 15th).
The former MOD instructional officer, who started his career as a chef at distinguished West End establishments including London’s Ritz Hotel before joining the Army Catering Corps as a private in 1968, said the appointment really had come completely out of the blue.
“I honestly thought I missed the boat,” he said. “You see great chefs such as Albert Roux and Cyrus Todiwala receive honours over the years, and to even be mentioned in the same breath as them is an honour in itself. It really has hit me straight between the eyes.
“The MBE also comes on the day my son gets married, so it will be celebrations all round.”
Geoffrey has made a huge impact on the catering world since he left Westminster Technical College five decades ago, particularly in the competitive cooking arena.
Not only has he judged competitions at an inter-service, regional, national and international level for the past 20 years – including the Global Chefs Challenge, the Culinary Olympics and the Culinary World Cup – he has been instrumental in bringing about positive change as a member of the Culinary Guidelines Committee of the World Association of Chefs Societies.
A keen ex-competitor, Geoffrey gained numerous gold awards himself over the years, taking the podium at top salons culinaire in the UK, Germany and the US, including the Grand Prix Award at the National Restaurant Show, Chicago, in the 1970s.
It is, however, his efforts to raise awareness of the important role military chefs play that he is most proud of. “There is this misconception that they are simply banging out stuff in the barracks, but the reality is there is no difference between trained military chefs and chefs in a swanky hotel in the West End, whether they work in the Army, Royal Navy or RAF.
“These chefs can be one day cooking for the Queen and in a forward operating base in Afghanistan the next, and I hope I’ve managed to get military chefs accepted as specialists in their field. I’m particularly proud to have played a part in the launch of the Craft Guild’s Armed Services Chef Award last year, won by Cpl Alun Davies from the RAF this year.”
Geoffrey is a governor of the Craft Guild of Chefs as well as national treasurer. An MBE is awarded for a significant achievement or outstanding service to the community.