Young Chef of the Year 2020 Finalists
The M & OpenTable Young Chef of the Year Contest is back for its fourth year, showcasing the wealth of great young talent in the industry. This October our eight finalists will each host their own pop-up night at M Victoria Street, with points awarded by a panel of judges from the culinary industry and you, the diners.
The chefs will be judged on the quality of their four-course menu, but also on their approach to sustainability, their ability to demonstrate a zero-waste philosophy and ethical sourcing of produce. You will be given a scorecard when you arrive and will be asked to score your contestant out of 25 for 5 categories; atmosphere, menu construction, presentation, taste and execution.
Find out more about our eight contestants who have made it to this year’s Young Chef of the Year Awards and what four course exclusive menu they have curated to help them secure the 2020 title.
Book your table for our Young Chef of the Year Gala Dinner on Monday 22nd February 2020, by clicking here.
Daniel Araritei has had a passion for cooking from a young age which has stemmed from helping his mother around the kitchen after school, from here he has never looked back. After learning the ropes in kitchens in and around the city Daniel hails from, he moved to London, hungry for more and determined to further his career. With an appreciation for fresh food, working with local suppliers and a zero-waste approach to cooking, Daniel is now at Caesar’s at Dolphin, the celebrated Italian restaurant in Braintree. Although head chef of an Italian restaurant, influences from all over Europe can be found in his menu such as pan-fried duck breast served with confit duck leg bon bons and a traditional French dessert Poire belle Hélène to conclude his four-course menu.
Dominik Robert Mazur
Specialising in Eurasian cuisine, Dominik Mazur hails from Malmasion in Leith, Edinburgh after working his way up through their chef’s academy, promoted to Chef de Partie in 2014 and finally earning his position as head chef in 2018. From Polish decent, Dominik moved to Scotland aged 14 with an eagerness to learn and passion for cooking. Classic dishes such as beef stroganoff can be found in his menu as well as a focus on ingredients Dominik has grown familiar with such as Scottish Smoked Salmon cheesecake served with a lemon and tarragon dressing.
Daniel Rodriguez, of Colombian heritage but raised in Spain has always had a family approach to cooking, working in the kitchen for guests of the restaurant as if he were cooking for his closest friends and family. After studying cuisine in Spain for five years, Daniel relocated to Manchester whereby he began working for Gaucho, the Argentine steak group that has culinary influences which are rooted deeply within Spain. Latin American influences can be found peppered throughout his menu such as Ecuadorian citrus seabass ceviche and a Dulce de Leche ice cream to accompany his dessert.
Eyram started his culinary career at Mews of Mayfair as a demi chef de partie. From there, he took his knowledge and passion for cooking to M Restaurants, working in both M Victoria Street at M Threadneedle Street as a chef de partie with culinary director chef Mike Reid at the helm. Eyram currently resides at The Montague Kitchen at the Hyatt Churchill London, focusing on modern British cooking featuring locally sourced produce. Eyram’s own food is all about what he loves to cook and bringing a certain finesse to the food he grew up with. Dishes such as Cured Jerk Salmon feature on his menu, drawing inspiration from Eyram’s culture as well as dishes such as Egg Yolk Ravioli, drawing from Eyram’s love of cooking homemade pasta.
Jason Ramplin, originally from Gloucestershire, lived in the Wiltshire countryside for 17 years so would certainly class himself as a country boy, focusing on using locally sourced produce in order to support local businesses. Currently working at a small boutique hotel in the Wiltshire countryside, Jason and his team produce a mixture of classic and modern food in the hotels fine dining restaurant with its very own kitchen garden to pick from allowing Jason to grown your own, pick and serve fresh produce on the same day. Rooted in British cooking, Jason’s menu focuses on high quality ingredients such as smoked trout from Mere Farm and loin of Salisbury Plain Roe Deer.
Originally from Venezuela, chef Jesús Castel studied gastronomy in Spain for five years and trained in some of the most celebrated restaurants in Spain. Taking his knowledge and passion with him founded in Spanish kitchens, Jesús currently resides at the renowned Ibérica group, famous for traditional Spanish tapas in London whilst using the finest Spanish ingredients. The menu Jesús has created is centred on one specific product, the turbot. With a focus on nose to tail dining, Jesús wanted to showcase the idea that different cuts and parts of the fish serve a purpose and can be utilised and refined in a fine food setting.
Donovan Dyer is currently at chef at M Threadneedle Street, which focuses on offering dishes that have been prepared using four different techniques, coal, wood, smoke and ice. M Restaurants, also maintains a huge focus on beef, with the highest grade of Kobe beef available in London currently on its menu. Donovan’s menu is full of flavour, delicately paired with finesse such as Jerk Jackfruit as his first course followed by Octopus with red pepper, ginger and olive oil.
Aaron Thomas has had the privilege of working in some excellent and highly regarded restaurants in the country and most recently has found himself at Hawkyns by Atul Kochhar, the two AA rosette restaurant in the picturesque town of Old Amersham specialising in Indian cuisine. Combined with previous skill and learnings, Aaron has begun his own culinary journey into modern Indian and Nepalese cuisines which is reflected in his menu. Dishes include plaice cooked on the bone and traditional Nepalese Pakku pork chop served with pig’s head vindaloo.