Putting on the Ritz: South Shields chef John Williams wins Lifetime Achievement Award
He’s cooked for the Queen, has been awarded an MBE for his services to hospitality and helped The Ritz London to earn its first Michelin star.
Now South Shields-born chef John Williams has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for his culinary skills.
John, whose journey into the world of food began peeling spuds in his mum’s kitchen in Morton Street, near the Lawe Top, picked up the prestigious award at this week’s National Restaurant Awards in London, which celebrates the cream of the UK dining scene.
The Executive Chef at The Ritz London said: “I’m over the moon and very humbled.
“To win this lifetime achievement award, surrounded by a room full of my industry peers and some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the country, is the greatest honour and means the world to me.
“I’m very lucky to have a brilliant brigade of chefs working with me at The Ritz and this award is also a testament to their dedication in delivering excellence to every guest, every day.”
Commenting on his win, award organisers said: “Williams is respected for his unflinching dedication to his craft, regardless of what other restaurant trends are out there, his deep knowledge of classic cooking and a dedication to upholding those traditions, but also a willingness to innovate and modernise.
“He describes the haute cuisine of which he is so passionate as epitomising true gastronomy and purity, something which requires constant refinement, and recognises his food must be classic yet still evolve.”
Despite working in the kitchens of some of London’s most famous hotels, including The Berkeley and Claridge’s, John has always remained true to his Sanddancer roots and makes trips back to the North East to visit friends and family.
The son of a fisherman, John grew up surrounded by the wealth of produce from the North Sea and, of course, South Shields curries, which set his palate on a journey of ingredient discovery.
After leaving Mortimer Road School, John went on to study cooking at the Marine and Technical College before an apprenticeship in Otterburn.