Viktorija Bernataviciute, 25, a third year chef graduate at Northampton College, Jonah Kellar, 18, of City College Plymouth, and Giuseppe Giorgio Finocchio, 22, of Westminster Kingsway College, beat other finalists to win these coveted places, which will see each of them spend 12 months working with leading chefs Tom Kitchin, Simon Hulstone and Jonray and Peter Sanchez-Iglesias, on a rotational basis in their respective restaurants.
Following a gruelling semi-final at the Electrolux Training Academy, just seven young hopefuls were selected to attend the grand final, competing as individuals but working together in teams to create a three-course meal for the judges. Each student used skills and techniques learnt at college to prove their ability to work in a team and handle the pressure of a professional kitchen.
The judges were celebrated chef Nigel Haworth from Michelin starred Northcote Manor, Craft Guild of Chefs CEO Martin Bates and Electrolux Professional’s Andy Blakemore, who were led by seasoned competition chef Hulstone.
Hulstone said: “Individually the winners were all excellent but ultimately they came together well in their team and showed stand-out qualities such as skill, determination and good attitude that would be perfectly suited in any kitchen brigade.”
The young chefs will now spend their time working in three of the country’s top Michelin starred restaurants – The Kitchin in Edinburgh, The Elephant in Torquay and Casamia in Bristol, where they will benefit from expert guidance and training of their celebrity mentors.
As the only female chef to be placed, Bernataviciute said she was overwhelmed by the opportunity ahead: “I feel absolutely ecstatic to have won a place on the Electrolux Chef Academy. It’s impossible to describe how much this means to me and I can’t wait for this life changing experience to start.”
Electrolux marketing manager Vanessa Holloway commented: “Electrolux has been supporting professional kitchens for nearly a century with appliances. Naturally, we are proud to have launched Electrolux Chef Academy sharing our extensive expertise to create these kinds of life-changing opportunities to aspiring young chefs.
“The success of the academy is about getting the right people together from industry and education to deliver a credible learning platform with true integrity.
“The final challenge was a difficult one – the finalists had to create and deliver a three-course meal to a table of Michelin star chefs and renowned industry experts. All three winners particularly impressed the judges with their skills, attitude and ability to keep calm in a high-pressure situation. We wish them every success on their placements and Electrolux will be supporting them every step of the way.”
Each of the winners’ respective colleges will also receive an Electrolux Professional Touchline Combi-Steam oven to help train future students.
The Electrolux Chef Academy final was held at DSI Foods, a catering business in central London that creates first-class menus for major airlines in a professional development kitchen. DSI is also a key partner of Electrolux and supporter of the Electrolux Chef Academy.