21’s Megan Armstrong named RACA Young Pastry Chef of the Year

The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts has named its Annual Awards of Excellence recipients, including Newcastle-based Megan Armstrong – winner of the RACA Young Pastry Chef prize.

The results were announced at a gala dinner at Claridge’s, hosted by RACA chairman John Williams.

Three AAE recipients were recognised for scoring the highest mark in each category – kitchen, pastry and service.

Megan, chef de partie at 21 on Newcastle’s Quayside, was crowned RACA Young Pastry Chef; while Billy Etheridge, demi chef de partie at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, was named RACA Young Chef; and Cleo Hudson, demi chef de rang of L’Enclume in Cumbria, became RACA Young Waiter of the year.

The winners were presented with a scholarship from the Savoy Educational Trust, an engraved silver trophy, and work experience opportunities at the Fat Duck in Bray and Pollen Street Social in London’s Mayfair.

Pastry finalists in this year’s competition had five-and-a-half hours to make a strawberry Charlotte royale with sauce anglaise, two Paris-Brest and a nougatine stand.

Megan said: “I am just in complete shock, it’s unreal! Huge thanks to my head chef Helen Doyle and our sous chefs who gave me the best support throughout. I really focused on the nougatine stand, which was quite technical, ensuring that nothing snapped or that the caramel didn’t cook too far.”

“The Annual Awards of Excellence provides a much-needed opportunity to showcase the exemplary talent of our brightest young chefs, pastry chefs and waiters working throughout our culinary and hospitality industries,” added John – who grew up in South Shields and is the executive chef at The Ritz hotel in London.

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