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Lesley Waters

Lesley Waters Cookery School

Lesley studied French Cuisine for three years at Ealing College, which included time as a chef at the Waldorf Hotel.

During this training period, she won one gold, and two silver medals at Hotelympia and was awarded a scholarship to the Hotel Intercontinental, Dusseldorf.  

Lesley joined Prue Leith's restaurant and was quickly promoted to senior chef. She then worked as a freelance corporate chef and caterer for government officials before joining Leith's School of Food and Wine as an instructor, rising to head tutor.

Renowned for her regular television appearances on Ready Steady Cook, Great Food Live and This Morning, she is head judge of The Teflon™ Diamond Standard Awards.  

Lesley is also a regular contributor to a number of food magazines including BBC Good Food Magazine, and an author of several cookery books.  Lesley now runs her own cookery school in Dorset.

We're delighted to announce that Lesley will be head judge again for the 2021 finals.

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Jacks McDonell

Lesley Waters Cookery School

Having studied French Classical Cuisine at Ealing College, she worked in the hotel restaurant and Directors fine dining industry for 15 years. 


Then moved into teaching at Leith's School of Food and Wine where she also worked on food styling for the Leith's cookery bible. 


Following this she spent time in the publishing world, working as deputy food editor, food stylist and recipe development chef for IPC magazines.  Currently head teacher at the Lesley Waters Cookery School in Dorset. 

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James Golding

The Pig Group

James Golding is a graduate of the Specialised Chefs Scholarship. Placed at the Savoy as part of this training, within 3 years he had completed all sections in this prestigious kitchen and in 1998 secured the position of Demi Chef de Partie at Le Caprice.

James is now Chef Director of The Pig Group, most recently listed in the Conde Nast top 15 hotels in the world, one of only two in the UK.

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Paul Dayman

Bournemouth & Poole College

Paul is a former Specialised Chef graduate who now has the privilege of teaching the current students on the programme, which is one of the most prestigious culinary courses in the country. 


Having taken part himself in various competitions, he now mentors students for events including Salon Culinaire at Hotelympia and the Entente Cordiale in France.