Rohan Nevins, a senior sous chef at the 5-star Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel is fast-tracking to become a star of the professional chefing world after being crowned Visionary Chef of the Year.

For on 20 October, the Jamaican born 32 year-old impressed the world-class judging panel, including Peter Birnie, former chief restaurant inspector at the AA, to fend off stiff competition from nine other finalists to lift the prestigious title at the Lakes Hotel School in Cumbria.

Mentored by Aiden Byrne of Master Chef fame and who in the summer opened the 2AA RosetteAiden Byrne British Grillat Macdonald Craxton Wood Hotel (Ledsham, Chester), Nevins cooked up a hare dish par excellence to win the title - and savour the mouth-watering prize of a return flight to dine at any restaurant of his choosing in the world!

Nevins, who since 1999 has been an employee of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, said of his win: "I feel very happy.  All the work I did in preparing my hare dish for the final really paid off. Aiden (Byrne) helped me a lot with his insights. I really want to say a huge thanks to him and all the staff at Macdonald Hotels who have supported me throughout the competition." 

Though it required just 3 minutes to cook, the modest chef explained it took seven hours, including preparation of 40 whole hares, to produce his award-winning dish of fresh loin of hare in chicory leaves and hare cutlets topped with hare mousse and smoked foie gras wrapped in pigs caul. 

Reflecting on the moments before he was named the winner, Nevins said: "After my dish went out (to service) and I spoke to diners, many people commented how good it was.  That gave me a bit of an indication of my chances. And when I was announced as the winner, I was so happy I was hugging Aiden (Byrne)."

Nevins will now enjoy a return flight to Japan with accommodation and dining at the 2- Michelin star Joel Robuchon Restaurant. And he hopes his dream win will also see his chefing career soar to even greater heights: "As part of the team working under head chef Giles Stonehouse at Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel, I am already used to preparing dishes that utilise only the finest and freshest ingredients. Now I hope that winning Visionary Chef of the Year will give me the edge to take a further step in my career within Macdonald Hotels & Restaurants," he said.

Certainly, his achievement hasn't gone unnoticed.  For Alan Swinson, Catering Director of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, commented: "To win the coveted title of Visionary Chef of the Year further underlines the professionalism, passion, culinary skill and flair that Rohan, working as part of a close-knit team, consistently offers diners at Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel. 

"Everyone at Macdonald Hotels, where our chefs always only work with wholesome raw ingredients and use the finest and freshest produce, are very happy for Rohan and proud of his achievement." 

All ten finalists from the regional (UK) heats prepared a pre-determined dish that was served to all 132 diners and the five-strong judging panel of: Peter Bain, former chief restaurant inspector of the AA; Monica Galetti, senior sous chef at Le Gavroche and judge on Master Chef the Professionals; Sat Bains, a World Culinary star; world renowned flavours expert Dr Tony Blake and Vicky Enderson, a former Michelin-start pastry chef and now development chef and flavour specialist at MSK.