Everton’s head chef has been named the best in the business at a national awards ceremony.
Gareth Billington, who oversees the 32-strong catering team at Goodison Park, fought off competition from countrywide rivals to be voted Sodexo UK and Ireland’s Chef of the Year at the glittering Star Awards ceremony in London.
The recognition caps a successful year in which Gareth has also catered for a string of high profile events at other venues across the UK.
At Royal Ascot, Gareth took charge of two restaurants and a number of food outlets, before providing dining at Lord’s cricket ground during the summer's Olympic archery competition.
He also cooked for Paralympic athletes at London’s Olympic stadium.
And reacting to his award, the humbled winner said: “I was stunned when I realised I’d won. When they read out the citation I assumed there must be another chef who’d had a similar career path to mine. Then I realised it was me.
“Winning this award really is the highlight of my career so far but it’s a team effort and my team is superb – they really are among the very best in the country.”
Sodexo, who have provided matchday and non-matchday catering at Everton since 2006, hold their Star Awards annually to recognise the efforts of their employees and Gareth picked up his glass trophy in front of over 600 company colleagues.
Dr Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Chief Operating Officer at Everton Football Club and CEO of Everton in the Community, said: “Gareth is absolutely impeccable in his professional duties. Alongside his exemplary culinary skills, he demonstrates a strong sense of social responsibility, supporting a range of charitable activities hosted by Everton in the Community.
“Gareth goes above and beyond at all times and is a treasured member of staff within our organisation. We are justly proud of his achievements and send our warmest congratulations.”
Before joining the Blues, Gareth trained at London’s The Garrick Club and was formerly in charge of a patisserie on the famous QE2 cruise liner.