TV Chef Paul Merrett to judge Pub Chef of the Year Award

TV chef, food writer and owner of three gastro pubs, Paul Merrett, along with a panel of industry experts, will judge the exciting new Pub Chef of the Year Award, the British Beer & Pub Association has announced.  Entries are now flooding in from MPs following the recent competition launch by the BBPA and the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, in partnership with Nestlé Professional.

With over 50 entries received over the last few weeks, supportive MPs have made a plethora of positive comments on the amazing talent of the chefs working in pubs and bars that they have nominated (see quotes below). Many more entries to the competition are expected as the campaign gathers momentum with the closing date set for this Friday, 13th November.

Paul Merrett’s passion for developing young people within his own business, The Victoria in Sheen, The Malthouse in Fulham and The Fox and Grapes in Wimbledon makes him the ideal choice for supporting and judging the awards.

Paul Merrett

“In my former life as a West End fine-dining chef, being twice awarded a Michelin Star was most definitely the highlight of my career, but for the last half dozen years or so I have loved running my own pub. High quality food and produce remains key to our success but the pub environment allows for a far more relaxed and friendly vibe – for the customers and for the staff too. Like all good businesses I rely on having a great team of people around me. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing young people come into my kitchen with limited experience yet full of enthusiasm and energy and watching them develop into really talented chefs that have the ability to create fantastic food for our guests,” said Paul.  “I am extremely excited to see the range of talent around the country who have come to the notice of their local MPs, demonstrating the important role they play in a local pub’s business.”

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “I am delighted that so many MPs are nominating great pubs within their constituency.  This is a great initiative to showcase to the Government the skills and attributes of the people who are behind the scenes, contributing to the success of the local pub.  If you have not done so already, please contact your local MP and ask them to get on board and to nominate one of your outstanding pub chefs.”

Many MPs have been talking about why they have nominated a local pub chef for the competition. 

On the Crooked Billet in Old Leigh, Southend West MP Sir David Amess said that he was“Delighted to have the opportunity to nominate this pub, and in particular, Luke Cannadine, for the wonderful and fantastic contribution that the pub offers to the local community – notwithstanding a hearty meal.

“Guests are welcomed to an authentic experience of an old fishing village when dining at The Crooked Billet, especially as food on the menu is often locally sourced from the surrounding cockle sheds and fishmongers. I would recommend constituents to visit the Crooked Billet for a traditional taste of what Southend West has to offer!” 


Helen Hayes MP commented, “The Great North Wood is one of many fantastic local pubs we have in Dulwich and West Norwood, and has a great atmosphere and delicious food. I wish Joe Coulter all the best in this competition.”


Following the submission of his nomination, Andrew Rosindell MP (Romford) commented,

“It’s great that quality pub food, and the work of Britain’s best pub chefs is being acknowledged by the Parliamentary Pub Chef award. I’m very pleased to be able to nominate Edgars Pountaf for the award, and I really hope he goes all the way. I often go to the Orange Tree, and I think it’s fantastic that they and Edgars can be acknowledged in this way.”


Rebecca Pow MP (Taunton Deane) commented, “The Ring of Bells is just the kind of friendly pub serving bona fide English food made from the best local ingredients that everyone would like to find on their street corner. There is a strong emphasis on produce sourced from the South West, especially ciders and real ales on the drinks menu. They have brought an out of town pub into the centre of Taunton and chef Dan Lowman is a great asset to the business.’