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From Competitor to Judge – An Inside Look at Culinary Competitions with Ann Brown of Worldchefs Culinary Competition Committee

Welcome to World on a Plate, where the latest culinary trends and industry insights are brought to the table.

On Episode 86: From Competitor to Judge – An Inside Look at Culinary Competitions with Ann Brown of Worldchefs Culinary Competition Committee, Ragnar speaks with Ann Brown, a recent appointee of Worldchefs Culinary Competition Committee, about her journey from award-winning competition chef to international judge.

Hear her advice for aspiring chefs, an inside look into the development of competition rules and standards, and how to get the most out of competition experiences. 

Tune in and learn about:
  1. Embracing Failure in Culinary Competitions: Amy shares perspectives from both a competitor and a judge on the challenges and pressures that chefs face when competing in culinary competitions, such as time constraints, ingredient limitations, and the need for innovation. She offers advice from her experiences with setbacks and failures, and the importance of taking risks. Gain insight into the resilience required in the face of challenges, learning from mistakes, and how these experiences ultimately contribute to personal and professional growth.
  2. Behind the Scenes of Judging: Explore what it’s like to transition from competitor to judge in culinary competitions. Amy gives an insider’s look into the judging process, the criteria used to evaluate dishes, and the responsibility of providing constructive feedback to competing chefs.
  3. The Ever-evolving World of Pastry Arts: Deepen your understanding of industry trends. Amy shares tips on staying up-to-date in your pursuit of excellence in pastry arts and culinary competitions. Hear more on the importance of perseverance, pushing boundaries, experimentation, and continuous learning.

Worldchefs is here to help you build skills to foster your culinary passion.

Register for an upcoming Worldchefs Competition Seminar. Designed for ambitious culinarians looking to gain insight into the height of international culinary competition standards, these intensive seminars provide key information about current trends, competition rules and judging criteria, to help chefs keep up-to-date and at their best.

From New Orleans to Jakarta, you can search the events calendar to find the next seminar near you!

Gain your Culinary Foundations with Worldchefs Academy! Completely free and all online, you can sign up today for Culinary Foundations, Pre-Commis Chef Training Program, and Sustainability Education for Culinary Professionals. Worldchefs Academy gives you a chance to learn the culinary basics needed to kickstart your career, brush up on current international standards, and help deepen your knowledge of sustainable cooking methods.

The Pre-Commis Chef Course is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Italian, German, and Mandarin.

Don’t forget to create your free Worldchefs account for the latest resources and industry news.

About Ann Brown

Ann Brown is an award-winning chef, Worldchefs Certified Judge, member of the Worldchefs Culinary Competition Committee with a remarkable track record in culinary competitions.

Ann’s journey in the world of pastry began at a young age, where she honed her skills and developed a keen understanding of the intricacies of the craft.

Ann is dedicated to supporting Young Chefs and the next generation on their journeys into the world of food, whether it be advocating for action on International Chefs’ Day or in helping to shape judging criteria that meets the shifting needs of the industry.

Share more about your career journey. How did you go from competitor to judge?

On leaving school I began work as a commis chef in Liverpool in my local hotel. I stayed two years before graduating from what was considered Liverpool’s top Italian restaurant. It was here I learned the intricacies of immaculate food preparation and presentation. The restaurant was visited on a regular basis and was popular with a variety of celebrities. It was in Liverpool that I completed my initial years of cookery education. 

I moved up to Scotland and finished studying my pastry and advanced pastry diploma qualifications. It was while attending college I was introduced to the world of culinary competition. The competition was known as ‘Scothot’ and took place in Glasgow.

My first competition took place in 1993 at Scothot, where I entered the Pastillage Show Piece Category and won the gold medal as well as the Table of Honors Award.

I was then invited to become a member of the Scottish Culinary Team which came as a complete surprise and of course, I accepted.  My acceptance meant competing at the highest level, representing Scotland and UK around the world as a team member and as an individual. The team won many accolades.

As an individual, I gained valuable experience at a high level, winning many gold medals in the process and special achievements, plus awards, including making British History in Singapore 1994 with gold, gold with distinction, and the ‘Most Outstanding Pastry Award’, double-gold medalist in Luxembourg, as well as numerous Table Of Honour awards and overall winner in the pastry category.

In the year 2000 I was presented with the ‘London Craft Guild of Chefs Pastry Award’

I am an approved Worldchefs International Certified Judge. I have been adjudicating at culinary events since 1999 to the present day, including events in countries such as the United Kingdom, Malta Kulinarj, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Luxembourg, Germany, Sharjah and soon to be China in my new role as a member of the Culinary Competition Committee.

What has changed since you started out?

People seem to have less time now than before. Things have changed a lot since I made my first marzipan sculpture. Everything I produced was made with anything just lying around in my kitchen. I had no option, no other avenue other than to be creative and to experiment. I was forced to improvise, which in turn helped me hone my skills without realizing, it became second nature. The online world has opened the door to the world of pastry. Books, wonderful cutters, and moulds are all widely available. One can surf the web for almost any ideas, flavors, techniques, and where to source the tools and equipment to produce them.

Any words of advice for Rookie Judges who would like to become a Worldchefs Certified Judge?

Potential judges need to know and understand what it’s like to be a competitor. That the experience, on many occasions, is sleepless nights and little to eat, or even the time for it. This kind of experience could be considered a crucial factor and prove invaluable, not to mention beneficial when it comes to judging whatever a competitor has created.        

What does Worldchefs mean to you?

A door of opportunity for all those who wish to step over its threshold.


Special thanks to Ann for joining us.

World on a Plate is supported by Nestlé Professional and our podcast sponsors.

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