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Class of 2002

Who are the heirs to Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White? One thing is certain – tomorrow’s big names are likely to have passed through the kitchens of today’s superchefs. Jay Rayner picks Britain’s brightest hopes

In 1989 a photograph was taken in the kitchens of a small but increasingly well known restaurant in south London called Harvey’s. At one end of the preparation table stands the chef, a young, wild-haired chap called Marco Pierre White. On the other side of the table stands his sous chef, a heavy-browed young man who, at the time, would probably only have been recognised by the other foot soldiers who then staffed London’s kitchens. Today that back room boy is instantly recognisable as Gordon Ramsay; the chef who, in his time, was tipped as the new Marco Pierre White. The lesson from that grainy photograph is clear. If you want to find the star chefs of tomorrow you should start by looking in the kitchens of the star chefs of today.

So it has proved. Five of the seven chefs that we have marked out for great things have spent time in the kitchens of the greats who came before. They have worked for the big five star chefs of their day: Nico Ladenis and Pierre Koffman, Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White and now, of course, Gordon Ramsay himself. Indeed three of our ‘New Gordons’ – Marcus Wareing, Jason Atherton and Angela Hartnett – are currently part of Ramsay’s growing empire. That’s the way Ramsay wants it. ‘A really good chef always has to have someone alongside to help them through,’ Ramsay says. ‘Standing alongside me I have my father-in law, Chris Hutcherson, who deals with the business side.’ That, in turn, gives Ramsay the space in which to help support, and profit from, the next generation. ‘Some of the big chefs, like Nico or Marco, didn’t nurse the talent in their own kitchens. They just rolled out branded chain restaurants. I don’t want to do that. I want to roll out the talent.’

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A grand European tour

The Continental Europe volume of the Good Hotel Guide is out at the end of the month. Here, its editor Caroline Raphael selects places for all tastes and budgets

The Good Hotel Guide specialises in small, personally run hotels of character, and the Continent is rich in such places. Ever since our first edition, 25 years ago, which contained 300 hotels, Continental hotels have outnumbered British hotels in the Guide, a clear indication of our readers’ preferences. In 1978, 55 of the entries were French, 43 Italian.

The Guide is now published in two volumes, one covering Great Britain and Ireland, the other Continental Europe, with a combined total of 1,600 hotels. One thousand are on the Continent with 18 countries represented. France remains the favourite with 400 hotels. Italy still comes second with 131.

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