Chefs invited to compete for the National Chef of the Year 2021 title

Chefs from all sectors across the UK have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of head chef, Steve Groves from Roux at Parliament Square as entries are now open for the National Chef of the Year competition.

The new Chair of judges and Michelin starred restaurateur, Paul Ainsworth has collaborated in designing this year’s menu criteria. Competitors are required to produce a creative menu for two guests in two hours, celebrating the very best of seasonal summer ingredients.

Chefs must make a starter consisting of three different plates per portion, for two guests all using the core ingredient of fresh Gilt-head bream. Ainsworth wants chefs to think “San Sebastian, modern style tapas”. Each dish must use bream in a different format and must make the best use of the fish in some way. Judges will focus on how competitors have used by-products in the dish and are looking for entrants to showcase a variety of techniques in their starter.

For the main course, chefs must create a lamb dish sourced from the UK and Ireland coastline using both a prime and offal cut, suitably garnished. Judges are looking for the best use of accompanying summer vegetables, herbs and coastline flavours to enhance the lamb. Competitors may clean, butcher and marinade the lamb elements in advance but prime cooking must be carried out on the day. The sourcing and provenance of the lamb is also important.

Finally, Paul and his team of judges are looking for a showstopping dessert of the competitor’s choice focusing on strawberries and cream. Judges will be searching for the best use of this seasonal classic with flair, innovation and creativity.  

It is recommended that chefs register for a National Chef of the Year account at www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk straight away to read the full brief. They will then be able to update the entry and save it as they add more to it over the coming weeks. Chefs have until Friday, 3rd April, to submit their final entry and a shortlist of 40 chefs for the semi-finals will be revealed on Friday 15th May. This year’s heats will take place at Sheffield College on Monday 15th June, and at Westminster Kingsway in London on Monday 22nd June. Ten chefs will go through to the National Chef of the Year final, which takes place at The Restaurant Show on Tuesday, 29th September 2020.

The current National Chef of the Year, Steve Groves said: “Winning the National Chef of the Year is an incredible honour and one of my proudest moments. For me, it's the UK's top chef competition and the chefs associated with this event are the shining lights of our industry. The connections I made throughout and since the competition are invaluable and have been a real boost to my career.”

As he prepares to take on his first head judge role for National Chef of the Year, Paul Ainsworth added: “When considering the criteria for this year, I wanted to be able to excite and inspire chefs when they saw this brief, and I hope as you are reading it, your mind is already whirring with ideas. My advice is to make the best use of your ingredients, focus on flavour and avoid waste by using by-products. Keep it local, fresh and simple. Over the next few months I am going to be on the hunt for the best chefs and I’d absolutely love to see more females entering, so please help to make this happen by encouraging all chefs to give it a go.”

The National Chef of the Year competition is open to chefs who are 26 years or older as of 29th September 2020. Competitors may come from all areas of the hospitality business including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors and they may be working in the UK or overseas.

Organiser of NCOTY and Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs, David Mulcahy said: “As we launch another year of competition, we are full of anticipation as we wait to see who will be throwing their chef’s hat into the mix and entering the UK’s most prestigious culinary title. Steve Groves is already proving to be an outstanding winner and former champions such as Kuba Winkowski have become true ambassadors for the competition, so this is about so much more than the cooking on the day. When Paul first told us his ideas for the brief, we knew that this would inspire chefs from across the hospitality industry. So whatever sector you work in, get involved, show us what you’ve got, and you could find you are the National Chef of the Year 2021.”

The National Chef of the Year competition is run in partnership with Knorr Professional and is supported by Churchill China UK Ltd, Mash Purveyors Ltd, Evolve Hospitality Recruitment Ltd, Santa Maria UK Ltd, Valrhona Ltd, Bidvest Fresh Ltd, HIT Training, Ritter Courivaud Ltd, Boiron Freres, OpenTable and Unox.

 

Issued on behalf of the Craft Guild of Chefs by Digital Blonde Ltd. For more information about the event or to arrange interviews with candidates, judges or organisers please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07967 823854.

Craft Guild of Chefs

The Craft Guild of Chefs is the largest UK chefs’ association with members worldwide in foodservice and hospitality, from students and trainees to top management working everywhere from Michelin starred restaurants to school catering divisions.

Paul Ainsworth announced as Chair of Judges for The National Chef of the Year

The Craft Guild of Chefs has announced that Paul Ainsworth will take over as Chair of Judges for its 2020 and 2021 competitions. He takes over the role from Gary Jones, executive head chef at Le Manoir, who has led the team of judges for the last three years and crowned Steve Groves, Kuba Winkowski and Luke Selby as winners.

Paul is Chef Patron of the Paul Ainsworth Collection and has been selected by the Craft Guild of Chefs to bring new ideas to the competition. The Guild regularly changes its chair to ensure the competition grows, develops and entices the best chefs in the UK to enter.

Organiser of the competition, David Mulcahy who is Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs said: “Paul has been on the judging panel in the past and has helped us to discover some amazing winners. He has shown real integrity in his judging style and will bring a wealth of experience to what’s regarded as the UK’s biggest culinary challenge. We’ve already started working with him on the plans for the year ahead and we are excited by what he’s set to bring to the competition. Sustainability has been at the heart of The National Chef of the Year for many years but under Paul’s guidance, we are going to see this more than ever. All chefs should be ready and waiting for the brief to be revealed and to start working on their entries as it’s going to be an incredible year to enter.”

Paul Ainsworth has given a taster of how he will be putting his own spin on the competition, adding: “I am absolutely committed to this role and believe it’s important to lead from the top so my judging will be honest, firm and honourable. As head judge, I’ll be watching semi-finalists and finalists closely during the cook-offs and making sure the team of judges are working hard throughout the two hours to find the right winner. The full brief will be revealed next month but I’ll be going back to basics so that all the chefs need to think about, is making food that is truly delicious and showcases their own style, skill and flair. Whilst it’s important this competition remains current, it’s a cooking competition at the end of the day and I want the competitors to produce food that appeals to all five senses. As judges we just want to taste food that makes us say ‘wow’.”

The National Chef of the Year competition will be open for online entry next month and chefs should follow the Craft Guild of Chefs social media channels for updates using @Craft_Guild on Twitter, @CraftGuildofChefs on Instagram and through Facebook at www.facebook.com/craftguildofchefs. Chefs who would like to be added to the NCOTY mailing list and be notified when entries open should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or send a message via social media.

 

Issued on behalf of the Craft Guild of Chefs by Digital Blonde Ltd. For more information about the event or to arrange interviews with candidates, judges or organisers please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07967 823854.

Craft Guild of Chefs
The Craft Guild of Chefs is the largest UK chefs’ association with members worldwide in foodservice and hospitality, from students and trainees to top management working everywhere from Michelin starred restaurants to school catering divisions.

About Paul Ainsworth
Southampton-born Paul Ainsworth is the successful chef and businessman behind Paul Ainsworth at No.6, Caffe Rojano, Padstow Townhouse, Mahé Cookery School and Chef’s Table, all located in Padstow, Cornwall. In 2006 Paul became head chef at Padstow’s No.6. Paul and his wife Emma took over the business in 2009 and earned the restaurant a Michelin star four years later. The restaurant has become synonymous with high-quality ingredients served simply, while incorporating playful twists. In 2011, Paul acquired Rojano’s in Padstow, a Mediterranean restaurant opened by Stanley Rojano in 1974. In a nod to Paul’s mentor Gary Rhodes, the restaurant was renamed Rojano’s in the Square in 2011, with their classic Italian dishes proving popular with guests. In 2020 Paul and Emma purchased the lease to the building and carried out a full rebrand, renaming it Caffe Rojano and implementing a fresh New York/Italian inspired menu. Padstow Townhouse opened in 2015, a six-suite guesthouse in Padstow’s Old Town, realising the couple’s dream of offering their diners somewhere to stay. 2018 saw the launch of the Paul Ainsworth Academy in partnership with Truro & Penwith College, offering hospitality students paid experience across all five of Ainsworth’s businesses. In May 2019, Paul and Emma reopened The Mariners pub in Rock, Cornwall in partnership with Sharps Brewery. 2019 also saw the launch of Mahé Cookery School and Chef’s Table, the couple’s fourth Padstow venture. With Executive Chef, John Walton at the helm, it’s named after an island in the Seychelles, Mahé takes its name from the location where Paul’s parents first met.

Tuesday, 1st October, 2019

The National Chef of the Year and Young National Chef of the Year 2020
winners revealed

An impressive list of chefs has been whittled down from over 100 to just one as Steve Groves, head chef at Roux at Parliament Square was selected by the UK’s toughest culinary experts to take the title of The National Chef of the Year 2020. However, it was a closely fought battle with ten talented chefs aiming to take the top spot in a live two-hour cook-off at The Restaurant Show.

Taking the runner-up spot was Derek Johnstone, head chef from Borthwick Castle with Nick Smith, head chef at Vacherin placing in third.

Chefs had to create three courses in two hours and Steve served up a menu of red mullet, shellfish mousse and bouillabaisse sauce, followed by a main course of suckling pig, Jerusalem artichokes, quince, hazelnut and trompettes with Calvados Baba, honey poached pears and creme fraiche Chantilly for dessert. This year’s judges were led by Gary Jones, executive head chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons who had a team of 19 chefs helping him find the winner. The list included Sat Bains, Clare Smyth, David Mulcahy, Claude Bosi, Jonny Lake, Philip Howard, Ollie Dabbous, James Petrie and former winners Alyn Williams and Simon Hulstone.

Sustainability and seasonality were the key focus points of this year’s brief which was put together by Gary Jones and competition organiser, David Mulcahy. Finalists were tasked with creating a bouillabaisse style flavoured starter using under-utilised fish. For the main course, chefs had to use cuts of suckling pig with the opportunity to pre-cook one element of the pig prior to the competition, ensuring it did not amount to more than 20% of the final dish. Finally, the chefs were asked to create an elegant dessert honouring seasonal pears, which showcased technical skill, balance and maximum flavour impact.

Straight after scoring the dishes, Gary Jones said: “We’ve seen some amazing cooking today. What stood out for me about Steve was his good, strong, clean flavours. He didn’t over complicate his menu and approached the brief well resulting in beautiful flavours. When it came to the main course, he served-up the best crackling in the room and I was salivating just looking at it.”

Knowing he now holds the title of The National Chef of the Year, Steve Groves said: “I am delighted, relieved and surprised. It was hard work and those two hours went by in the blink of an eye but I focused on the flavours of the dish. I am incredibly pleased to win this title and I can’t wait to celebrate with my team, who I couldn’t have done this without.”

Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs, David Mulcahy who has organises the competition added: “What an amazing final we’ve seen today! Firstly, congratulations to Steve Groves who has done an incredible job and now becomes a true ambassador for our industry. When you take this title, it’s about more than what you have cooked today as the chefs who have won previously are still some of the most talked about figures in hospitality. Each year, we make sure that the competition is truly relevant to today’s diners and is addressing industry trends whilst putting all our finalists firmly on the map. It’s known as the hardest culinary competition in the UK which is why this title is so sought-after and the one competition every chef wants to win.”

It’s not just the senior chefs who are in the spotlight today as a new Young National Chef of the Year has also been crowned. William Keeble who is demi chef de partie at Whatley Manor won the competition. In second place was Jordon Powell, chef de partie at South Lodge Hotel and George Harding, senior chef de partie, The Atlantic Hotel took the final place on the podium.

The ten finalists were tasked with creating two different vegetarian or vegan canapes for the starter and a Norwegian cod main course appropriately garnished and served with an emulsified hot, warm or cold sauce. Finally, they served up a plated dessert using a classic Victoria Sponge as a base.

Hrisikesh Desai took on the role of Chair of Judges for the YNCOTY competition earlier this year and alongside his team of ten judges, has truly found one to watch in William Keeble. Commenting on the level of cooking he’s seen today he said: “It wasn’t easy to decide the winner and it was extremely close, coming down to tiny details but I think we’ve got a fantastic winner. William balanced the flavour well and showed artistry in his work. He showcased a lot of skill elements that can be easy to mess up under pressure and on top of that his organisation was incredible. He was cool, calm and showed that he has practised and wanted to push himself to the absolute limit.”

Both of the winners have access to some amazing prizes following today’s success. Steve not only takes home the title but also wins:

  • The National Chef of the Year winner’s medal.
  • One-year’s membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs.
  • Thanks to Knorr Professional and Unilever Food Solutions, the 2020 NCOTY winner will have the opportunity to create their own digital recipe book as well as receive a media training session up to the value of £7,500, in addition to opportunities to raise their profile working with Unilever Food Solutions.
  • £1000 voucher to spend within the Lockharts’ range.
  • A chef’s tour of Lebanon - the three top chefs will win a culinary trip to Lebanon. They’ll have the chance to explore the region’s exciting food, wine and restaurant culture and bring some inspiration back to their kitchens. From Beirut’s innovative street-food to outstanding wines from the Bekaa Valley, there’s a whole world of stunning cuisine to discover.
  • Exclusively designed winner’s plate framed together with the winner’s medal as well as an additional prize of £500 worth of Churchill products.
  • A bespoke Savernake knife to be made for the winner of The National Chef of the Year.

As the YNCOTY winner, William will enjoy:

  • One year’s membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs.
  • The 2019 YNCOTY winner will win the opportunity to grow professionally via a work development or trial session in a Michelin starred restaurant, valued at £2,500. In addition, they will promote this trial via an Instagram take-over and blog post with Knorr Professional and Unilever Food Solutions to further raise their profile.
  • This year’s Young National Chef of the Year winner will join Michel Roux Jr for the culinary trip of a lifetime to Norway, in conjunction with Seafood from Norway. Over three exciting days in February 2020, they’ll celebrate the Skrei cod season (a seasonal Norwegian delicacy) at a beautiful fishing village with unrivalled local hospitality, plenty of fantastic food with fishing, hot tubs and hopefully sightings of the northern lights. On their return, the winner will have the opportunity to cook a signature Skrei menu at a high-level luncheon for press, chefs and industry members, hosted by the Norwegian Embassy and Michel Roux Jr.
  • As well as a product prize of £250 and a framed presentation plate, Churchill will also be taking the winner to a European city for a Gastronomic Experience trip.
  • A bespoke knife to be made for the winner of the Young National Chef of the Year. 

Churchill ran its ‘People’s Choice’ prize to reward ‘Exceptional Presentation.’ The award was presented to Bethan Disley-Jones for her main course in YNCOTY after receiving the most votes on social media.

The competitions are run in partnership with KNORR and Lockhart Catering Equipment and are supported by British Premium Meats, CCS, Churchill, Direct Seafood, Evolve Recruitment, HIT Training, Mash, Norwegian Seafood, OpenTable, Ritter Courivaud, Santa Maria, Sousvide Tools, UNOX, Quorn and WearerTech.

ENDS

Issued on behalf of the Craft Guild of Chefs by Digital Blonde Ltd. For more information about the event or to arrange interviews with candidates, judges or organisers please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07967 823854.

Craft Guild of Chefs

The Craft Guild of Chefs is the largest UK chefs’ association with members worldwide in foodservice and hospitality, from students and trainees to top management working everywhere from Michelin starred restaurants to school catering divisions.

Meet the YNCOTY 2020 Finalists

Sion Hughes

Sion is currently working at Carden Park Hotel and Spa in Chester as the chef de partie and he is in charge of the larder section for the à la carte restaurant and the four banquet venues they have at the hotel.

Unlike many chefs, Sion did not go to college to do his training. Some of what he knows has been self-taught and the rest has come from working under Graham Tinsley, Harri Williams and Dion Jones over the past three years. 

Sion actually left Carden Park last spring to go to Rogan and Co. in Cartmel but he felt it was too big a jump for him, so he returned to Carden Park to improve his skills with new chef, Harri Williams. Hopefully in the next few years he will work his way up to Michelin starred kitchens, when he feels more ready and confident in his cooking. 

When asked what he loves most about being a chef, he said it’s that moment when you have prepared, made and served something special for a customer and they love it and give good feedback. It’s a feeling he doesn’t think you can top. He also loves the team at Carden Park and how when the going gets tough they all work together. They have a saying “one team, one dream.” 

Sion has wanted to be a chef since he was about five or six years old after helping out in the kitchen at home. His favourite things to make as a child were pasta and a banana loaf for dessert.

When it comes to career influences, Sion has followed Gordon Ramsey from quite a young age. He loves the passion and pure talent of him and that inspires him to want to push himself. Whenever someone says to Sion “that’s perfect” his response is always “nothing’s ever perfect, there’s always room for improvement”.

The reason for Sion wanting todo competitions is not only to push himself and try to improve his skills but also to see what other people are doing. He feels it’s a good way to see what other chefs are up to and to network with people you otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to meet. He loves the feeling you get during and after a competition with a slight adrenaline rush. To be in the final of the Young National Chef of the Year (YNCOTY) means a lot to him and he is very grateful and fortunate to be in the position many young chefs only dream of. This makes all the long hours practicing and researching recipes and methods worthwhile.

Winning the YNCOTY competition would mean everything to him, so much so he just couldn’t put it into words! He will approach this final in the same way he does any other competition, with 100% focus and determination to find out what works and what doesn’t. Normally in a competition he will try to stay within his comfort zone and not try new things. However, to win YNCOTY he thinks he’s going to have to push himself even harder.

Matt Nicholls

After training at University College Birmingham, Matt has worked at The Cross at Kenilworth, Simpsons Restaurant and Fishmore Hall in Ludlow before taking on his current role at Cheals of Henley where he is working as a sous chef. The thing he loves most about cooking is to be able to take an ingredient that isn’t of expense or popularity and to turn it into something that is delicious.

Matt has wanted to be a chef since he was 15 years old and believes his love of cooking with his grandmother from a young age is what influenced him into this career path. As a 16-year-old, he took a lot of inspiration through the books of David Everitt-Matthias who won the National Chef of the Year title in 1996. As Matt has grown older, he has taken his inspiration more from what’s going on around him, such as his own dining experiences or the changing seasons.

What Matt loves most about competing is how it gets you away from the day to day routine of being a chef. It gives you the ability to draw on all your skillsets, past and present and he believes pushing yourself out of your comfort zone makes you a stronger chef. Being in the final of YNCOTY is an incredible feeling for Matt although he admits, a very nerve racking one. It’s inspiring for him to know this competition can help put your cooking infront of some of the industry’s biggest legends. 

Winning this competition would be a huge achievement for him and is something he has aspired to achieve since he first heard about it as a young college student. 

Preparation for this competition will be the make or break for Matt. He has competed in the British Culinary Federation Young Chef competition and also supported Adam Bennett during the 2015 Bocuse d’Or and this taught him that preparation is key. Once his dishes are planned, he will be using his days off to do full run throughs and taste testing to make sure he is happy with timings and the overall dishes. 

George Harding

George is currently working at The Atlantic Hotel in Jersey as a senior chef de partie. He trained at Pembrokeshire College in South West Wales, where he completed his three-year professional cookery course. After leaving college, he worked for Will Holland at the Coast Restaurant in Saundersfoot before taking a placement at Le Manoir for three months. He then returned to work at Coast for a further 18 months. His next move was to Bristol where he worked at Wilks restaurant for chef, James Wilkins before going back to work for Will after he had moved to Jersey.

George loves the challenges which working in a kitchen brings. He admits he would be lost without the kitchen structure and organisation that lies within it. However, his main reason for being a chef is making the customers that come to the restaurant happy with the food he creates. He loves helping make the memories that being around a dining table generates.

Being a chef is all he has ever wanted to do. After he finished school, his brother was doing his level two cookery at Pembrokeshire College, so George went in for some open days and loved it too. 

Chef Will Holland has played a massive part in his cooking career, helping him develop his skills and giving him the drive and confidence to go off into other kitchens and hold his own. Will was the one that introduced George to competitions when he was competing in National Chef of the Year. Plus, the time at Le Manoir and the love and passion that goes into the food there really opened George’s eyes and showed him the style of food he wanted to make. With chef James Wilkins he learnt a lot about new ingredients and working in a Michelin starred restaurant inspired him. 

George thrives on the pressure of having to get something prepared, cooked and plated in a certain time and then the relief of completing. The adrenaline rush at the halfway point in the semi-finals was a great boost and he can see why people get hooked on doing competitions. He also loves meeting all the other chefs that he’s competing against as well as the chefs judging.

He still feels shocked to have made the final as it doesn’t feel real. Winning would mean everything to him and he knows what a massive achievement it will be for both him and everyone who has supported him. When it comes to the day, he is just going to go and give it everything he has got and is taking this time to just think about the way he works and how to organise everything for the final. This is something the judges told him in the semi-finals he needed to improve on, so he’s taken their advice on board. Once he has the brief it’s going to be head down and serious planning for the dishes to take to the final in October. 


Jordon Powell

Young National Chef of the Year finalist, Jordon Powell is currently working at Tom Kemble at the Pass Restaurant in Horsham as a chef de partie. He was trained on the job at South Lodge Hotel and also took on a part-time course at Westminster Kingsway College for two years. He has worked at many other places around Sussex but most of his time has been spent at South Lodge Hotel working in the various departments.

What he loves most about being a chef is the constant learning and that no day is ever boring.When he was younger, Jordon always wanted to run his own business then growing up he discovered his passion for cooking so getting into the hospitality industry just felt a perfect fit.

When it comes to competing, Jordon loves how you get to test your skills against other chefs your age, as well as the networking opportunities it provides. 

Being a finalist in Young National Chef of the Year is an amazing feeling for Jordon who has worked so hard to get to this level and have the chance to compete. He is very excited for the final and winning would mean a lot to him. He has followed the competition for many years now and has always wanted to compete in the event and take home the title. He’ll be preparing over the coming weeks by staying behind the stove and working hard as soon as he gets the brief. 

Gercelynn Mae Dionio

Gercelynn Mae Dionio is currently a chef de partie at Restaurant Hywel Jones at Lucknam Park. Fresh out of college she went straight to Lucknam Park and she has been working there for the last four years.

She loves learning about different kinds of food, techniques and gaining another family in the kitchen team. Hywel Jones is her biggest inspiration and he has already played such a huge part in her career. She is most looking forward to competing in Young National Chef of the Year to be able to challenge herself as well as meet other competitors. When her name was called out as a finalist, she really didn’t expect it and was so shocked, overwhelmed and grateful. 

To take home the title would be a massive achievement for her as she recognises how huge this competition is. She’s going to be spending the coming weeks working hard to practise and will be giving it her all using everything she has learnt from Hywel Jones and the rest of the Lucknam Park team. 

Bethan Disley-Jones

Bethan is currently working at The Art School restaurant in Liverpool as an apprentice pastry chef. She is also studying for the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Chefs’ Apprenticeship at the City of Liverpool College. The Arts School is herfirst full-time job since leaving school, although while studying for her GCSEs she worked on match days at Everton Football Club with her FutureChef mentor, Gareth Billington.


The reason she loves being a chef is it allows you to be creative. Pastry is what she is most passionate about and she’s lucky to work on that every day. She also loves that being a chef creates opportunities to work anywhere in the world.

Whilst Bethan didn’t really know what she wanted to do when she was growing up, she chose Food Tech as a GCSE and her teacher encouraged her to enter the FutureChef competition, which she was lucky enough to win. This gave her lots of opportunities like work experience at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. It was such a wonderful experience that she knew this was the career that she wanted to do. 

During her career so far, Bethan has met so many inspirational people who have all been encouraging and offered their support. Particularly inspiring is her boss, Paul Askew who has given up so much of his time to get her career started. 

Bethan believes the best thing about competing is that you get to create your own dishes and try them on such well-respected judges. She has learned so much from entering competitions as you get to learn new techniques and skills. Competitions really test her and push her to put herself out there and become a better chef. She’s very excited about making the final and it wasn’t something she expected to be able to do as it’s such a big achievement. Whilst she admits she hasn’t really thought about winning she knows to take the title would be amazing. She will be trying to improve her skills in all areas as its mainly pastry she focuses on in her job so there will be plenty of practising over the next few weeks.  

William Keeble

The Young National Chef of the Year finalist, William Keeble completed two years of culinary training at Farnborough Technology College before taking on a role at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. He is currently working at Whatley Manor as a demi chef de partie. 

William loves being a chef because he enjoys working as part of a team in which everyone strives towards one goal. He grew up watching a lot of food programmes on TV and believes these inspired him from a young age to become a chef. Growing up it was all he wanted to do.

For William, Raymond Blanc is a big inspiration and he watched a lot of his programmes when he was younger. Having the chance to work for him for three years showed him just how passionate he is about the industry, which is something that William admires greatly.

With just a few weeks until the final of YNCOTY, William admits he likes the pressure of competing and believes it’s a good test to see where you are compared to other chefs of a similar age.Being a finalist is definitely a goal he can now tick off his list and it was an honour for him to be invited to compete in the semis. To make it through to the final is a massive achievement for him. 

Whilst for William, winning would be surreal it would mean all the hard work he has put in over recent years has paid off. He will be preparing for the final by doing as many run-throughs of his dishes as possible. This way when it comes to the big day, he can just focus on what he needs to do to impress those judges. 

Sam Everton

Sam is currently working as a senior sous at ‘Crwst’, which is a small restaurant located in Cardigan, West Wales. His culinary career started as a trainee at a restaurant called Hammet House. He then went to Pembrokeshire College and trained for three years, walking out with a Level 3 qualification. Sam then joined Wordskills UK and received some of the best training in the country, training at James Sommerin, Gidleigh Park, Launceston Place and the House of Commons and he had one-to-one training with Heston Blumenthal’s sous chef. 

One of the things Sam loves most about being a chef is the long hours as he loves working to his full potential and trying to push himself every single day. Sam has always wanted to be a chef for as long as he can remember, he even asked for a food processor for his 12thbirthday. That’s where it all started. He’s inspired everyday by different things, but the biggest inspiration so far is probably his mum and nan. They have always been good cooks and from a young age he would love to help them in the kitchen. 

When it comes to competing, Sam thrives on the buzz of the event. As soon as the timer starts, he gets in the zone and there is no better feeling than being fully focused with the adrenaline pumping. For Sam, competing in Young National Chef of the Year is a great honour. He has trained for competitions for the last three and a half years so to be a finalist in one of the biggest competitions in the country is a massive achievement, and he is really excited to be taking part.

Winning would mean so much to him, having spent years training in competition environments and he would love for all that experience to pay off and try and put Cardigan on the map. Sam will prepare for the final like he does most of his competitions. He’s hoping to practise hard and try and get as much flavour into the dishes as he can, work on his presentation and just enjoy the experience. 

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