Who will take the title in the toughest culinary battle of National Chef of the Year history?

The Craft Guild of Chefs has not let COVID-19 stop them finding ten truly talented chefs to make the National Chef of the Year final this year. Significant changes were made to the competition to ensure that despite the pandemic, chefs had the opportunity to win the UK’s most sought-after culinary title. After 40 chefs were selected last month, the judges have now whittled them down to just ten for a cook-off at Le Cordon Bleu, London next month. 

The ten chefs making the final are:

  • Derek Johnstone, head chef, Borthwick Castle, East Lothian
  • Fraser Bruce, head chef, Fraser Bruce @ The Fish Shed, St Ives
  • Nathan Cornwell, head chef, The Barn at Moor Hall, Ormskirk
  • Sarah-Jasmina Moussabih, head chef, Finnish Embassy, London
  • Marcin Pomierny, head chef, The Maids Head Hotel Limited, Norwich
  • April Lily Partridge, chef, The Ledbury, London
  • Nick Smith, head chef, Vacherin / Ashurst, London
  • Dominic South, head chef, Corinthia Hotel, London
  • Ben Drake, senior sous chef, The Elephant by Simon Hulstone, Torquay
  • Thomas Swaby, senior sous chef, Roux At Parliament Square, London

With the semi-final cook-offs unable to take place this year, the finalists were selected by taking into consideration the marks from both the entry stage and the dishes which summed them up in just two to three bites. Both rounds of the competition were judged by a separate panel of judges to make sure the rigorous judging process which NCOTY is famous for remained throughout 2020. With guidance and advice from some of the most respected chefs in the industry, the final decision on who went through was made by Chair of Judges Paul Ainsworth and organiser of the competition, David Mulcahy.

To take the title next month, chefs will have to impress Paul Ainsworth, chef patron at Paul Ainsworth Collection, Clare Smyth MBE, chef patron at Core by Clare Smyth, Niall Keating, executive chef at Whatley Manor and Claude Bosi from Bibendum Restaurant in Chelsea.

Despite restrictions, the industry will still be able to watch the cream of chef talent battle it out for this career-changing title. The actual cook-off takes place on the 7th September at Le Cordon Bleu but the format for the final has been reinvented with the streaming of an hour-long show during Hospitality Week that offers insights into how chefs have navigated this challenging year.

Organiser of the competition, David Mulcahy, said: “There is no doubt that finding a way to make sure the National Chef of the Year competition could still go ahead has been challenging. But as organisers, we have always remained determined to ensure the competition’s heritage could be maintained and that the industry had a positive success story to come out of this. Chefs have faced some real battles along the way, even to put an entry in, but we have seen huge resilience, determination and passion from these chefs to turn adversity into positivity. Whilst we have had to tweak how the final is run, many things remain the same. We have ten brilliant chefs cooking for the best judges in the industry and what a special winner they are going to find. I really hope that on the 30th September, chefs in kitchens across the UK tune in to support the competitors and watch the final and the live announcement. There has never been a more important time for the industry to come together in this way and show everyone how much talent our culinary scene has to offer.”

Chair of judges, Paul Ainsworth added “My decision to ask the chefs to create a dish that summed them up in just a few simple bites was to help me learn more about the chefs and their style of cooking. I wanted to see great plates of food that showed skill, creativity and innovation but also each chef’s passion and determination to take the top spot. This additional round gave us so much insight and inspiration to help us find that all important top ten. We also considered the scores they received in the first round as ultimately it is those three dishes that we will be tasting in the final. I’m confident we have an amazing line-up of finalists from some incredible establishments and businesses. I can’t wait to taste the dishes in a few weeks’ time as ultimately that’s what this competition is all about.”

Make sure you are supporting the chefs in the final by joining the Craft Guild of Chefs for the live streaming  at 1pm on Wednesday 30th September followed by the big reveal of the winner at 2.30pm. Look out for updates on www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk and the Craft Guild of Chefs social media channels.

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 winners, 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.

The show goes on for 40 National Chef of the Year chefs

Despite the challenging situation the world has found itself in, the Craft Guild of Chefs has confirmed that its National Chef of the Year competition will still go ahead this year as it reveals who has made it through to the next stage. Changes were made to the online entry process so that chefs had the opportunity to design menus, cook dishes and take photography during lockdown.

As the semi-final stage won’t be able to take place in the usual way, 40 chefs have been selected to go through to the second stage. Chair of judges, Paul Ainsworth has tasked the competitors with creating a dish that sums them up in just a few bites. They will then create a short video showcasing that dish and answer four supplementary questions. Judges will then whittle the chefs down to a final ten, who will cook up their original menu in the final.

The news on whether a chef has made the second stage has been revealed in a new and exciting way this year. Throughout the day today, personalised CCS (Continental Chef Supplies) chef jackets have been arriving in the homes or workplaces of all 40 chefs with a note asking them to share the news online as their gift arrives. Churchill has also sent dishes as a congratulations gift and all the china can be used in the next stage of the competition. You can see the pictures of the finalists proudly wearing their customised chef jackets by searching #NCOTY on Twitter and Instagram.

The chefs invited to compete in the next stage are:

  • Mark Austin, executive chef, Northwood HQ, Aramark
  • Andy Bowler, sous chef, Petrus
  • Fraser Bruce, head chef, Fraser Bruce @ The Fish Shed
  • Nathan Cornwell, head chef, The Barn at Moor Hall
  • Paul Croasdale , head chef, Stargazzy Inn
  • David Davey-Smith, SNCO Chef, Royal Air Force
  • Tristan Downes, head chef, Craft London
  • Ben Drake, senior sous chef, The Elephant by Simon Hulstone
  • Nico Fitzgerald , head chef, London Stock
  • Alex Greene, sous chef, Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa
  • Daniel Griffiths, sous chef, Portmeirion Hotel
  • Elliot Hill, head chef, Panoramic 34
  • Asen Ibrov, head chef, Silver Spoon
  • Matthew John, chef patron, The Waggon Inn
  • Derek Johnstone, head chef, Borthwick Castle
  • Daniel Jones, head chef, JT3
  • Martin Lee, head chef, Hartwell House Hotel
  • Rob Marshall, freelance chef
  • Caroline Martins, chef patron, Sao Paulo Group Ltd
  • David Millar, head chef, CH&CO
  • Graham Mitchell, head chef, The Newmachar Hotel
  • Sarah-Jasmina Moussabih, head chef, Finnish Embassy, London
  • Saurav Nath, development chef, JKS Restaurants
  • Christopher Niven, executive chef
  • Andonis Paraskevas, chef/consultant
  • April Lily Partridge, chef, The Ledbury
  • Elisabeth Passedat, head chef, The Cleveland Arms
  • Marcin Pomierny, head chef, The Maids Head Hotel Limited
  • Matt Ramsdale , head chef, The Chester Grosvenor
  • Stefan Sewell, team captain, Combined Service Culinary Arts Team
  • Christos Siomadis, executive chef, Roseate House Hotel London
  • Nick Smith, head chef, Vacherin / Ashurst
  • Dominic South, head chef, Corinthia Hotel
  • Lewis Spencer, sous chef, Davies and Brook
  • Thomas Swaby, senior sous chef, Roux at Parliament Square
  • Nat Tallents, executive chef, Fosters @ The Box Plymouth
  • Simon Webb, freelance chef
  • Fergus Wilford, sous chef, Corinthia Hotel
  • Danny Young, senior sous chef, Northcote
  • Tim Zekki, chef proprietor, Duende

From this list, ten finalists will be selected to compete in a cook-off at Le Cordon Bleu on Monday 7th September. This will be filmed and played out as part of the new Hospitality Week with the winner being revealed live on Wednesday, 30th September, 2020.

Reflecting back on the last few months, Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser, David Mulcahy said: “Back in March, we had to make the difficult decision of whether to continue with the competition this year or postpone it. We spoke with our chair of judges, sponsors and other organisers and listened to the views of chefs who were contacting us via social media and email. There was a real appetite for the competition to continue as it gave chefs hope and positivity during such a challenging time. The level of entry we have received this year is incredible and whoever wins in these circumstances is going to be a truly special person. This year’s winner will have turned adversity into positivity and when asked what they did during the coronavirus crisis will be able to say they won the National Chef of the Year title. Thank you to all our sponsors and everyone who entered as you have helped ensure this culinary competition continues to lead the way in the UK and maintain its 48-year history.”

Chair of judges and Michelin starred restaurateur, Paul Ainsworth added: “This is my first year judging the first stage of NCOTY and many chefs were on the money in hitting the brief they were set. Seeing the huge variety of ways the entrants put their own interpretation on this task was inspiring and there are going to be some amazing dishes served up to us in September. I am already looking forward to watching the videos in the next round and seeing how chefs sum themselves up in just a few tasty bites. Be yourself, cook from the heart and be proud of what you have achieved to get to this stage.”

The National Chef of the Year competition is run in partnership with Knorr Professional and is supported by Boiron Freres, CCS, Churchill, Direct Seafood, Evolve Recruitment, HIT Training, OpenTable, Santa Maria, UNOX, Valrhona, Wearertech and Winterhalter             

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.

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What will the Young National Chef of the Year contenders be cooking up at this year’s prestigious final?

Chefs competing in this year’s Young National Chef of the Year (YNCOTY) final have discovered what they will be cooking up to impress the judges and try and take home the coveted title.

This year’s brief has been planned by Chair of Judges, Hrishikesh Desai and founder of the competition, David Mulcahy. Sustainability is at the heart of the brief after Hrishkesh was inspired by the Knorr Professional Future 50 Foods campaign. This initiative focuses on 50 of the foods we should eat more of to promote a more sustainable global food system. Ingredients have been selected based on their taste, nutritional value and low environmental impact. They include lesser-known varieties of grains, tubers, beans, sprouts, root vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, seeds and beans.

For the September final, YNCOTY competitors are allowed two hours to produce two plated portions of a three-course meal. The starter course will be an innovative vegetarian velouté with freshly prepared ravioli, suitably garnished as a light autumnal dish. This dish must include one or more of the following Future 50 foods - walnuts, sesame seeds, watercress, broccoli rabe and heirloom carrots.

This year the main course is an Asian inspired dish of the competitor’s choice using a fillet of Norwegian haddock or cod. The dish should be accompanied with a light sauce to finish it and must include one or more of the following Future 50 foods - cowpeas (black eyed peas), split yellow lentils, wild rice, sweet potato, pak choi, enoki mushrooms, saffron milk cap mushrooms and wakame seaweed.

For the dessert course, the judges are looking for a seasonal stone fruit and Pain Perdu. Judges will be looking for a modern interpretation of this classic bread and butter pudding dish.

Alex Hall, executive chef UK & Ireland for Unilever said: “Knorr Professional is once again proud to be the headline sponsor of the Young National Chef of the Year competition. At a time when our industry faces a challenge unlike any we have seen or experienced, it’s heartening to see the passion and enthusiasm that these young chefs show for their craft. What’s more, with the YNCOTY criteria this year shining a spotlight on issues of sustainability and promoting biodiversity, we’re delighted to be able to help educate the chefs of tomorrow on our Knorr Professional Future 50 campaign. In partnership with the WWF, the Knorr Professional Future 50 campaign will promote a more sustainable food future using diverse, varied ingredients – and it’s exciting to see this competition, and the young chefs who are part of it, leading the way on this.”

David Mulcahy, Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs added: “It’s no surprise that Hrishikesh has created a truly exciting and relevant brief for these young chefs to get their teeth into. I believe that sustainability has never been more important, and the Future 50 Foods campaign will be brought to the forefront by these ten talented chefs who have been leading the way in young culinary talent over the last year. I’m also particularly inspired by the Asian infusion brief for the main course as this will really allow the chefs to show us their creativity and own personal styles. I’m confident the judges will have some delicious dishes to taste.”

The ten finalists are Nathan Lane, Charlie Crote, Ieuan Andrew Davies, Dervis Mustafa, Jamaar Semper-House, Harry Paynter-Roberts, Rebecca Mary Jackson, Eden Allsworth, Sagar Massey and Jacob Gosselin.

The cook-off will take place on Monday 7th September 2020 at Le Cordon Bleu, but the final will be aired as part of “Hospitality Week” on Tuesday 29th September. You will be able to find out the winner on Wednesday 30th September with a live online announcement following the coverage of the National Chef of the Year competition.

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 07966 549619.

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.

Finalists for The Young National Chef of the Year revealed

The Craft Guild of Chefs has revealed ten talented young chefs who have been selected to compete in the prestigious Young National Chef of the Year final this autumn.

Due to the ongoing situation with Covid19, the selection process has had to be tweaked for this year. Rather than some of the chefs gaining a top ten spot through a semi-final, head judge, Hrishikesh Desai and organiser of the competition, David Mulcahy have handpicked the finalists based on recommendations from industry experts. The final decision on the line-up has come from extensive research and guidance from other leading chef competitions or industry associations. 

The criteria for the final will be announced at the end of June to give the finalists plenty of time to work hard in preparing for the competition, with the support of the wider industry. All finalists will be invited to an online webinar to chat to David and Hrishikesh about the competition and also to connect with each other.

The ten finalists are: -

  • Nathan Lane, chef de partie, The Greenhouse, Dublin
  • Charlie Crote, junior sous chef, Allegra
  • Ieuan Andrew Davies, chef de partie, Manor House
  • Dervis Mustafa, demi chef de partie, Petrus
  • Jamaar Semper-House, junior sous chef, Lucknam Park Hotel (Restaurant Hywel Jones)
  • Harry Paynter-Roberts, commis chef, Moor Hall Restaurant with Rooms
  • Rebecca Mary Jackson, junior sous chef, Leila Lily's
  • Eden Allsworth, demi chef de partie, Cliveden Hotel
  • Sagar Massey, sous chef, Mar Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa Resort
  • Jacob Gosselin, demi chef, Longueville Manor Hotel and Restaurant

David Mulcahy, organiser of YNCOTY and Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs said: “When we began planning the campaign to find our next winner we could never have predicted the situation we’d find ourselves in. However, one thing has remained the same throughout this crisis and that’s our determination to ensure that this competition goes ahead. We have been listening to the Government guidance throughout and safety remains our top priority whilst giving the industry reasons to celebrate. The Craft Guild of Chefs has been determined to support the young chef community throughout this crisis. By personally inviting each finalist to get involved we know we have an incredible list of chefs lined-up. The brief will be fully revealed at the end of June, but it will have particular focus on sustainability as we team up with headline sponsor, Knorr Professional, and celebrate its inspiring Future 50 initiative.”

Chair of Judges for YNCOTY, Hrishikesh Desai added: “Just looking at this list of chefs I know it’s going to be an exciting final. I’ll be challenging the young chefs to be creative and making sure that excellence still prevails this year, regardless of the changes to the format. The criteria will be engaging with the spotlight on produce, sustainability and skills. After a difficult 2020, I can’t wait to bring our judges together for a unique and memorable final.”


The cook-off will take place on Monday 7th September 2020 at Le Cordon Bleu, but the final will be aired as part of the new and exciting “Hospitality Unites” week on Tuesday 29th September. Chefs and supporters will be able to find out the winner on Wednesday 30th September with a live online announcement following the coverage of the National Chef of the Year competition.

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 winners, judges or organisers please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07966 549619.

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.

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