Scot's honour, Ryan Waddell nabs Head Chef title

Ryan Waddell, head chef of Reform Social & Grill and The Black Lion, has cooked his way to winning the Head Chef, Independent Outlet title

Ryan Waddell on stage with Paul Farhat
Ryan Waddell on stage with Paul Farhat

Ryan Waddell has won the title of Head Chef of the Year – Independent Outlet at the Caterer Middle East Awards 2016, a recognition hard won after being shortlisted for the accolade in 2014 and 2015.

Waddell was praised very highly by the judges for his expertise and the quality of his food. His role expanded last year with the launch of a second gastropub, The Black Lion, meaning he has had to develop his skillset immensely over the last year.

The winning chef told Caterer Middle East on the night: "I wanted something else to get my teeth into. It was not easy, but easier than it could have been because I wanted to make it happen. I wanted that second site."

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He doesn't plan to stop there; Waddell added: "[I want] another couple of sites hopefully! I’m not shy – I want more. I want to keep developing Reform; it’s already been recognised within Dubai, it’s got a culture status behind it… I want to keep that."

His skills with retaining staff was also a factor, with 75% of the team with him from the start of his career in Dubai at Reform Social & Grill. His junior sous chefs and CDPs have all been trained and are climbing up the career ladder with his guidance.

Waddell said: “I’ve had the same team in Reform since we opened and that’s all about developing these guys to help me move on to bigger and better things. I’m hands-on in the kitchen, I lead by example. They work standard hours and I’ll work more. I look after them."

New policies and procedures put into place by Waddell have also resulted in a drop in operational expenses, and savings on the P&L.

The chef has also been instrumental in the launch of healthier dining options for children, which has been enthusiastically received by guests.

Waddell said: “It’s a big concern, it’s something that needs to be noticed. Healthy eating or sustainable eating in general. It needs to be looked at – whether it’s sustainable fisheries or kids eating right. They learn from adults so it’s as simple as that. What we do as adults, they’re going to take on."

Highly commended in this category was Andrew Padreres from Claw BBQ, Crabshack & Grill, Dubai. Waddell and Padreres were shortlisted alongside: Riva Palm Jumeirah’s Rashid Mohammed; Frankie's Italian Bar & Grill Dubai’s Giovanni Pintore; Cavalli Club Restaurant and Lounge’s Francesco Stara; and Atisuto Galleria Mall’s Aijiro Shinoda.

The event took place on June 1 at the Conrad Dubai, and the category award was presented by Paul Farhat, head of food services at Al Rawdah.

Sponsors of the Caterer Middle East Awards include: category sponsors Figjam, SIAL Middle East, TSSC, Ronai, MMI, Aramtec, Al Rawdah, Sample Me, Bragard, Tequila Patron; water sponsor Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino, and coffee sponsor Dallmayr.

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