General Manager at the award winning Touchwood Shopping Centre in Solihull, Tony has a rich and varied hospitality and leisure background working in and operating health clubs, bars, restaurants, family entertainment centres and hotels. He also runs his own events business, The Wine Events Company, hosting tastings, pop ups, collaborations and dinners across the region.
Tony is an active ambassador for the region, Deputy Chair for Solihull BID, Executive Board and past President for the Solihull Chamber Chambers of Commerce and has significant judging / Head Judge experience with the Midlands Food, Drink and Hospitality Awards, The Birmingham Awards, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Awards and Midlands Education Awards.
Alex Claridge is chef-patron of The Wilderness, the “rock and roll fine dining” restaurant in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter. The Wilderness serves bold, playful and provocative tasting menus amidst dark interiors, an open kitchen and a rock and roll soundtrack. Alex is a vocal, often outspoken, advocate for the city’s hospitality scene and has recently been appointed as the West Midlands’ first regional Night Time Economy Advisor.
I am a chef from Birmingham, UK, with my heritage being a mix of English, Irish and Cantonese. I am classically French trained but have worked around the world in countries such as New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Italy, Greece and France. I reimagine classic dishes by studying the history and culture where the dish originated from, then rebuild the dishes using my experience and knowledge of ingredients and techniques from around the world.
My food can be described as fusion, but the term is thrown around too often. My food reflects me, my mixed heritage, and my understanding of different cultures. My aim is to create dishes reflecting the diverse world we live in, whilst also educating people on the heritage and history behind each dish, ingredient, and technique.
I am the MasterChef: Professionals UK champion 2021, with my career background being a mix of private dining, Michelin star restaurants, 5 star hotels and banqueting events.
My time on MasterChef The Professionals was an amazing and challenging experience. I received praise for my own style of cookery. Marcus Wareing described me as ‘A star in the making’. Whilst I also received high praise for dishes throughout the competition including 3 Michelin starred Matt Abe describing one of my dishes as ‘Outstanding’
I love to design fine dining menus and really push the boundaries in terms of tastes and techniques to create something refined and new. Along side this I have a huge passion for street food culture and affordable, accessible food that is still of the highest quality.
My travels around southeast Asia and time working in Thailand and Singapore heavily influenced my food style, the Hawker Centre and Street food culture is something that massively appealed to me and where I take a lot of inspiration for my dishes from. Learning about these cuisines, the culture, the history and how it is all linked, then using this understanding to create new dishes with the same amazing flavours but also including European ingredients and techniques into the plates I create.
I currently do a mixture of restaurant residencies, private dining and cooking demos. I have also recently teamed up with Singapore Tourism Board to promote Singaporean food to a wider audience. Alongside this there are talks for a similar project with the Hong Kong tourism board.
I am the Chief Executive of Colmore Business District, a position I have held since 2009 when the BID was first established. Colmore BID is one of the five city centre BIDs. My job is my passion - every day is different and I love making a difference in the city centre, whether it be through exciting public realm projects or delivering our award winning Food Festival. I am the Co-Chair of The BID Foundation, a national membership organisation and a board director on the High Streets Task Force. I am a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Place Management.
Freelance, qualified award winning Chef / Event Chef running my own catering business.
Food Demonstrator, Buffet Caterer, Private Dine Chef, Judge at Great Taste Awards, Product Development Chef Mission Foods
I pimp myself out in the culinary world to keep my catering work fun & varied - “Variety being the Spice of Life”
2022 won the accolade of Casual Dining Chef by Foodie Awards Coventry & Warwickshire.
Beat off two accomplished male chefs at a live Cook Off at Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park.
Esteemed judges Nigel Barden, BBC good food editor and Candice Brown, Great British Bake off winner & restauranteur both judged my dish as the winning dish.
Focus is to champion local suppliers and restaurants.
My aim - educate anyone who wants to enjoy the wonders of food.
Ben has a career spanning 17 years in the hospitality industry, managing boutique hotels, London restaurants and large-scale sporting stadiums. His current role, as Project lead with The Evolve Group, combines his vast experience in the Catering world with large scale development projects. The Group is the first niche staffing provider of its kind, offering staffing solutions to the temporary, permanent, and safeguarding environments within the Catering industry.
The Evolve Group is a collective collaboration by 3 inspiring leaders, to bring together a powerful force of knowledge, expertise, wisdom, and values to the Catering recruitment industry. The group have a combined leadership experience of over 70 years and are creating a company of individual experts in their fields. Most managers and consultants in the business, are unique in their background, coming from the Industry itself. We have an array of experienced chefs who have left the kitchen behind, to recruit the best culinary candidates in the market. Our Front of House Teams are mainly from a management and supervisory level and identify, upskill and service some of the finest establishments in the country.
Ben is delighted to be part of the judging panel for this year’s awards and can’t wait to identify the up and coming and established talent in the Midlands Area.
Conrad is undoubtedly one of our biggest champions of the food, drink and hospitality scene in Birmingham. Conrad entered the catering and hospitality industry at the age of 14 when he started working as a pot wash in a local pub. This led on to basic kitchen prep, restaurant service and eventually bar work. Conrad always held down part-time jobs while at school and college including working at ‘Simpson’s’ (1 star Michelin) and ‘Bank’ (2 Rosette) as a waiter. His passion for the industry led him to study and gain a 1st class BA (hons) in Hospitality and Food Management, a four-year degree, at UCB (Birmingham College of Food). His course included a year in industry which Conrad spent training as a chef in a 1 Rosette kitchen, he also carried out 8 weeks of work experience at the 3* Michelin, No 1 restaurant in the world – The Fat Duck.
Having joined ‘Mitchell and Butlers’ trainee manager programme and placed in a very busy gastro pub Conrad advanced to deputy GM quickly and implemented standards of procedures which were rolled out across the group. Having been headhunted for his first GM role and completed the pre-opening of Après Bar Broadway Plaza, Conrad identified a gap in the market in Birmingham for a top-quality, modern British takeaway, which specialised in fish and chips and he opened 'Great British Eatery’ (GBE). In February 2010 GBE was named England’s No.1 fish and chip shop – the highest accolade that any shop can achieve. He made the move into hospitality and catering recruitment in 2012 and started Tonic Talent in June 2018. Conrad and his team recruit the best talent for Hospitality and Catering business's across the UK.
Conrad is Birmingham born and bred, his knowledge of the Birmingham Food and Drink scene is second to none, and he is proud to champion all things 'Birmingham'.
Midlands Food Drink & Hospitality Awards - A recognition & celebration of the great work done within the industry