annual award of excellence

The Annual Awards of Excellence (AAE), established in 1983, are the most prestigious awards available to young people in the hospitality industry today.

By recognising the most talented up and coming chefs, pastry chefs and waiters, these remain the only awards to cover all three categories of kitchen, pastry and service. The AAE is not just a competition but an examination, which means that every candidate has the chance to take home an award. It all comes down to their ability to meet the level of skill and excellence demanded by the judges. The top-scoring recipients of the AAE in each category will also be presented with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Young Chef, Young Pastry Chef and Young Waiter of the Year awards. Each year the Young Chef, Young Pastry Chef and Young Waiter of The Year are awarded a once in a lifetime scholarship trip.

Who can enter?

Young people (aged 20-27) working full-time in the UK as chefs, pastry chefs or waiters. Each entrant must submit a C.V. headshot photo and answer three questions.

Chefs can be tested on a variety of food preparation and cookery tasks, from making a salad to butchery skills. They must demonstrate that they can prepare a number of dishes including soups and desserts and a piece of their own free interpretation.
Pastry Chefs will be expected to demonstrate the ability to work with many different kinds of materials including detailed chocolate and sugar work, and a creative presentation piece, as well as an excellent grounding in baking and plated desserts.
Waiters are tested on their knowledge and skills in a wide range of food and beverage service aspects. These include product knowledge, technical service skills, interpersonal skills and teamwork.

Past Winners

A full list of past Annual Awards of Excellence winners can be seen here: AAE past winners 1988 -2019

Why you should enter?

Becoming an Annual Awards of Excellence winner has propelled many young careers over the years. Read how it affected household names such as Nathan Outlaw, Mark Sargeant and Clare Clark MCA along with many others here: AAE Case Study Why you Should Enter


The three top-scoring Annual Awards of Excellence Winners will receive the following: The accolade of Young Chef, Young Waiter, Young Pastry Chef of The Year £2000 bursary thanks to the Savoy Educational Trust The bursary from the Savoy Educational Trust will take the form of an educational trip. Past trips include visits to New Orleans; Dubai; Mexico; Champagne; Tuscany; Barbados; St Lucia; Los Angeles; Hong Kong and Shanghai; Quebec and Los Angeles. A Robert Welch Knife Work experience at Pollen Street Social with thanks to Jason Atherton Work experience at The Fat Duck with thanks to Heston Blumenthal Invited to money can’t buy hospitality experiences and exclusive Royal Academy of Culinary Arts events and trips A specially commissioned engraved Silver Trophy thanks to Gordon Hogg and Finclass All Service Semi-Finalists and Finalists are invited to direct entry to the Gold Service Scholarship The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Young Chef of The Year will gain automatic entry to the Final of Craft Guild of Chefs, National Young Chef of The Year All Annual Awards of Excellence Achievers receive the following: Champagne Laurent-Perrier Jeroboam AAE Lapel Pin Chefs Jacket courtesy of Continental Chef Supplies Membership of the AAE Alumni.


LAUNCH AND CLOSE Monday 10th January Launch Friday 4th February Entries Close
SERVICE QUARTER-FINALS Monday 21st February The Connaught Monday 28th February Gleneagles
KITCHEN & PASTRY SEMI-FINALS Wednesday 13th April Westminster Kingsway College Bournemouth & Poole College University College Birmingham University of West London
SERVICE SEMI-FINALS Monday 9th May Turnberry – Monday 16th May The Savoy
KITCHEN & PASTRY FINALS Wednesday 1st June University of West London – University College Birmingham
SERVICE FINAL Monday 13th June Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
GALA DINNER Date and venue TBC

Our sponsors

Our committee members consist of


Jason Atherton

Honorary President


John Williams MBE

Chairman of the AAE


Martyn Nail

Chairman of Kitchen

Hywel Jones

Chairman of Kitchen


Yolande Stanley MCA MBE

Chairman of Pastry

Sarah Hartnett

Chairman of Pastry

Sergio Rebecchi

Chairman of Service

John Cousins

Chairman of Service

AAE Judging Committees

Our judging committee is made up of leading figures from the hospitality industry. Download PDF List