The Craft Guild of Chefs
In my career to date I have experienced a wealth of classical training stemming from an apprenticeship with John Burton-Race at the La Sorbonne restaurant in Oxford early in my career. I subsequently worked at the Ritz, the Dorchester and the County Hall Marriott hotels in London.
I am fortunate to be a medal-winning member of the Craft Guild of Chefs culinary team and competed in the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg in 2002, 2006 and 2010 and also the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt in 2000, 2004 and 2008 taking home silver medals in each event.
As the Vice-Chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs I am committed to the development of young chefs to ensure the future of the UK culinary industry. This commitment led to my involvement in the Brakes Student Chef Team Challenge. I have been on the judging panel since 2006 and love the excitement and nervous tension that the competition generates between the students and the overwhelming desire it breeds to win.
The competition is beneficial for student chefs as it incorporates key skills required in a professional environment. From my perspective it is fantastic to be able to offer a unique, weeklong work placement for the winning team. This provides the students with a great opportunity to kick-start their careers.
Click here to watch Christopher Basten's competition video.
Chief Executive Officer
The Craft Guild of Chefs
I have been a member of the Craft Guild of Chefs since 1978 and was delighted to be appointed the Guilds first Chief Executive Officer in 2006. It’s been great to be back working with chefs and many of my peers that I have come to know over the years. To be able to give something back to the industry that has given me so much is a real privilege.
It would be fair to say that my career in the industry to date had been relatively varied and has incorporated a mix of business management positions and first hand kitchen experience. Before entering into the more management focused roles I demonstrated in kitchens around the country, from four-star hotels to hospitals and food manufacturing outlets. I have been the Executive Chef at a four Star Hotel in the Midlands, run my own restaurant and gift shop franchise in a zoo and worked as a larder chef in the famous London Clinic in Harley Street. In more recent years I have been involved with equipment manufacturer Robot Coupe and have been the Managing Director of New Classics, agent for US equipment firm Waring.
As CEO of the Craft Guild of Chefs I became involved in assisting with the organisation and judging of the 2009 Brakes Student Chef Team Challenge. The challenge epitomises all that is important in our industry; it enables young people to showcase their talent, allows existing skills to be improved upon, focuses on team work which is so important to the smooth running of any kitchen and builds confidence in testing, pressurised situations.
I look forward with relish to the 2012 event and the final at Hotelympia at the end of February and I urge Lecturers and Students alike to "get your entries in”.
Head of Business Development Chefs Team
I attended Westminster Catering College and attained distinctions in both City & Guild 706/1 and 706/2. I then served a 2-year chef apprenticeship in the Merchant Navy working for Cunard and BP. Subsequently the majority of my career has been spent working in London at various Corporate Directors Dining Establishments including Michel Roux Senior’s Fine Dining Company.
As a young chef I was an extremely keen competitor in numerous food competitions and I was fortunate to gain the following awards; Hotelympia Silver Medalist - Cold Buffet Work – Salon Culinaire 1982, Cooker & Food Association Salon Culinaire (Cambridge) – Silver Medalist 1983, Le Chaine des Rotisseurs Bailliage of Anglia Winner – 1984, Hotelympia Special Merit Award – Cold Buffet Work (Team Section) – Salon Culinaire 1984.
I joined the Brakes Group in 1997 and was appointed the Head of Business Development Chefs Team in 2005. As part of my role I am required to manage 5 Chefs working with Brakes key Corporate Customers across the Hotels, Restaurants, Contract Catering, Travel & Leisure and Pub Sectors. I am also responsible for the running of the Brakes Food Innovation Kitchen in Covent Garden, London.
I have been a Judge representing the Brakes Group in the Student Chef Team Challenge, since 2008, and I believe it is one of the best competitions around for student chefs who want to demonstrate their culinary skills, creativity and food knowledge in an intensely competitive environment with a huge influence on teamwork. These are all essential qualities that a young chef will require in the industry as they progress their careers.
Having been a young chef competitor myself I have a lot of empathy and a great deal of admiration for the student chefs that dedicate, in most cases, their own time to hone their skills for this competition and I am always impressed with their attitude, enthusiasm and above all else their love of cooking.
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