Craft Guild of Chefs reveal brief for The National Chef of the Year online entry

The annual search for the UK’s most up and coming chef is under way as the Craft Guild of Chefs opens its entries for The National Chef of the Year (NCOTY). 

Despite the cold British weather, the organisers are focusing on warmer times as competitors are required to produce a creative summer lunch menu for two guests, cooked within two hours.

The menu must consist of the ‘Perfect Egg Dish’ starter served hot, of the competitor’s choice. This must be suitable for a spring/summer menu and be perfectly balanced. Judges are looking for a beef main course to include two cuts and two cooking methods. The beef must be sourced from the UK and competitors should indicate the breed of beef, farm sourced from and maturation period. 

For the dessert, chefs must create a delicious chocolate tart incorporating or garnished with seasonal fruits. Chefs are advised to focus on skills, creating the perfect pastry, filling, texture and overall execution of dessert.   

The brief was created by Gary Jones, executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir, who was invited to return as Chair of judges for a third year. Commenting on this year’s brief he said: “Nothing represents nature more than the purity of an egg, it’s also incredibly versatile, as well as an economical ingredient, so practise and development won't cost the earth.In terms of the beef task, previously everything has been cooked at speed on the day. This is a good test, but panic can set in and the final execution can be compromised. I believe we should give chefs the opportunity to prepare one element in their own environments. It will allow more care and attention to detail and the result on the platewill be more precise. For dessert, I wanted a task that will test the chefs and give them the opportunity to demonstrate their skill, balancing the pastry, chocolate and fruit elements. These tasks are achievable, familiar and most chefs will have a good knowledge of them. I'm passionate about building skills and seeing our industry becoming ever stronger. We have some brilliant chefs in the UK and NCOTY allows them to demonstrate their creativity and showcase their talent.”

The National Chef of the Year is open to chefs who are 24 years or older as of February 1st, 2019. Competitors may come from all areas of the hospitality business including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors. Competitors may be working in the UK or overseas.

Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of NCOTY, David Mulcahy said: “We are delighted to welcome back Gary Jones as the chair of judges. Gary has done a fantastic job over the last two years and pushed the competitors and judges to raise the bar even higher. With Gary’s input, we’ve got an exciting British brief for the chefs to start working on this year and we are confident it will be a popular task that will showcase skills, creativity, innovation and culinary talent. We see chefs develop, both in and out the kitchen, from the moment they start working on their entries, right through to cooking in the final. Some chefs come back year after year and it’s inspiring to see how much they have developed their skills at every stage.”

Chefs have until Friday, 22ndMarch, to submit their entry and a shortlist of 40 chefs for the semi-finals will be revealed on 17thMay. This year’s heats will take place at Sheffield College on Tuesday, 11thJune, and at Le Cordon Bleu in London on Tuesday, 18thJune. Ten chefs will go through to the National Chef of the Year final, which takes place at The Restaurant Show on Tuesday, 1stOctober 2019.

Kuba Winkowski, who is the current title holder, knows what it takes to impress the judges adding: “It took me two attempts to win the title of The National Chef of the Year and it was absolutely worth the wait. Hearing my name called as the champion is something I had dreamt of since I started working in the UK. The list of former winners is so impressive and to have my name added to that hall of fame was just the most incredible feeling. It’s regarded as the hardest chef competition in the UK, but also the most prestigious and I would encourage any chef to enter. Whatever stage you get to you will develop and grow, not only as a chef, but as a person.”

The National Chef of the Year competition is run in partnership with KNORR and Lockhart Catering Equipment and is supported byBritish Premium Meats, CCS, Churchill, Direct Seafood, Evolve, HIT Training, Mash, Ritter Courivaud, Santa Maria, UNOX 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.

The search is over: The National Chef of the Year and Young National Chef of the Year winners revealed

Eight months after the Craft Guild of Chefs began its hunt for the most up and coming chef in the UK, Kuba Winkowski, head chef from The Feathered Nest Inn has been crowned the new The National Chef of the Year. Kuba served a menu of Native Lobster, Oyster Emulsion, Celery, Sea Herbs Buttermilk followed by Yorkshire Grouse, Cabbage, Foie Gras, Quince, Celeriac, Seeds and Sticky Toffee, Lemon, Clotted Cream and Walnuts for dessert. His dishes were ranked the tastiest by 21 of the UK’s best chefs, overseen by Gary Jones, executive chef from Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons.

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In the runner-up spot was George Blogg, head chef at Gravetye Manor with Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle taking the final podium place at The Restaurant Show.

Today’s cook-off was the grand finale after a series of rigorous challenges which the ten finalists have undertaken during their culinary journey. It started with an online entry in February where chefs were tasked with devising a three-course menu for two guests. Judging of the menus was completed anonymously and then the top 40 chefs battled it out at either Sheffield College or Le Cordon Bleu in June, to be whittled down to just ten. The panel of judges for today’s final included Tom Kerridge, Clare Smyth, Claude Bosi, Jonny Lake and Paul Ainsworth.

Commenting on the standard of cooking he’d seen and tasted today, chair of judges for The National Chef of the Year and executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons Gary Jones said: “This has been a fantastic The National Chef of the Year final, with an exciting line-up of chefs from a variety of sectors. The chefs have really thought about the brief I set at the mentor day. As always, it’s been good to see former finalists returning as this shows persistence and tenacity, which is what every talented chef needs. As chair of judges, I didn’t make it simple by choosing lobster and grouse, both are easy to get wrong on the day, especially under the pressure and in a completely different environment to normal. Kuba was frustrated after last year, not because he didn’t win but because he wanted to be better. He’s gone away and thought about what he could achieve with real determination, ambition and competitive spirit. He’s sharper and fitter than he’s ever been so he could be the best chef possible and he absolutely deserved to win today.”

David Mulcahy, chef organiser of The National Chef of the Year Award and Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs added: “All ten finalists have done an incredible job, not only today but throughout the competition. To get to this stage, you’ve already beaten some of the UK’s best chefs. At each stage of the award, competitors have had the opportunity to connect with other chefs, judges and suppliers and this has helped them grow both personally and professionally. Each year we look for ways to develop this award and the Guild has recently enjoyed some inspiring discussions and debates on topical issues such as the chef shortage, PR and sustainability. These finalists are true ambassadors for the hospitality industry and we’ll be watching their careers with great interest.”

Straight after his name was announced Kuba Winkowski told us: “I am obviously super happy but for me the feeling of relief is immense. Coming back for a second time really helped because this time I knew more about the venue and the whole competition experience. This meant I only needed to think about the cooking. Winning isn’t just about me as I have an amazing team around me and it takes dedication from us all, including my commis chef who has worked with me for hours on end over the last few weeks. Everyone who knows me will be sick of lobster and grouse as I’ve made them taste my dishes over and over again. I am just so relieved the practice has truly paid off.”

The title of ‘The National Chef of the Year’ is always the most sought-after prize but the overall winner will also enjoy an extensive list of gifts including:

  • The National Chef of the Year Winner’s Medal.
  • 1 Year’s Membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs.
  • The 2019 NCOTY winner will have the opportunity to create his own recipe book as well as receiving a media training session OR receive £7,500 towards their own culinary development, all thanks to headline sponsor KNORR.
  • £1,250 voucher to spend within headline sponsor, Lockharts’ range as well as a Norwegian Culinary Prize Trip for the NCOTY & YNCOTY champions in 2019.
  • Exclusively designed winners plate framed together with the winner’s medal as well as an additional prize of £500 worth of Churchill products.
  • A bespoke knife to be made for the winner of The National Chef of the Year courtesy of Savernake Knives.

Earlier today ten chefs aged 24 or under also battled it out to take The Young National Chef of the Year title. Henry Wadsworth, chef de partie from Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons was announced as The Young National Chef of the Year winner after serving up a menu of Baba Ganoush, Medjool Dates, Preserved Lemon, Tempura followed by Poached Halibut Veronique, Suffolk red grapes, cucumber and Verjus with a Caramelized Pear Tart for dessert. Aaron Middleton, sous chef from Hide Above was revealed as the runner-up with Conner Farrer, chef de partie from The Ritz in London being announced in third place.

Chair of judges and ambassador for The Young National Chef of the Year competition, Mark Sargeant said: “The standard was really high today and the competition was close, especially for second and third. However, for me Henry was really on form and deserved that top spot. He’s been a part of the competition for two years but today he just nailed it.  His food was simple, delicious and spot on and as soon as I had tasted his three fantastically consistent dishes it was clear he was the winner.”

Each year, competition sponsor, Churchill awards a prize for the best presentation of the day for a starter, main course or dessert. The winner could be from either the young or senior competition and votes are made on social media. At the awards ceremony, Derek Johnstone from Borthwick Castle was announced as the winner of the ‘People’s Choice’ Award for exceptional presentation of his starter in The National Chef of the Year competition.

You can continue to follow the story of the competitions on Twitter with @Craft_Guild and #NCOTY and #YNCOTY and on the website at www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk

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.

New ‘extra mile’ award created in memory of talented chef, Matt Campbell

Next week the Craft Guild of Chefs will reveal the winner of The National Chef of the Year award, which is one of the most hotly-anticipated announcements in the chef world. For 2018, the Guild has introduced a new award which has been created in memory of talented chef, Matt Campbell, who tragically died running the London Marathon in April.

When judging The National Chef of the Year entries, it was found that Matt Campbell had not only entered the competition, but his menu had impressed the panel and successfully made it into the top 40. Judging of the dishes is completed anonymously so when compiling the names of the semi-finalists the organisers were sad to discover that Matt was unable to take his semi-final spot. The Kendal chef was running the London Marathon for The Brathay Trust in honour of his father, Martin. In the days following the run, thousands of people pledged to complete ‘3.7 extra miles’ in memory of the MasterChef: The Professionals star.

Named the ‘Matt Campbell Extra Mile Award’, it will be presented to one of the ten National Chef of the Year finalists who has made a big impression on the judges, in both the build-up to and during the competition.

Revealing why this award is so special to The National Chef of the Year, organiser and Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs, David Mulcahy said: “We wanted to recognise the work of not only Matt Campbell but also our ten dedicated finalists. Throughout the competition, we’ve been looking at every element of the chefs’ work, not only when competing but also in the part they play as ambassadors for our industry. As the most prestigious chef award, we recognise the role NCOTY has in inspiring all those who work in hospitality and celebrating the positive work that goes on to attract and retain talent, promote culinary skills and encourage sustainability. I feel honoured to introduce this award and am looking forward to revealing our first winner next week.”

The Chair of judges, Gary Jones has overall responsibility in finding the recipient of the Matt Campbell Extra Mile Award 2018. He added: “Over recent years there has been a lot of discussion about creating positive environments in modern kitchens and how senior chefs support those youngsters around them. It’s vital we work together to ensure we are truly nurturing the next generation to succeed in our industry. The National Chef of the Year is a key part of this mission with its long list of ambassadors, judges and competitors who always go the extra mile to develop their teams and steer the industry forward towards a sustainable future.”

The Craft Guild of Chefs will reveal the winner of the first Matt Campbell Extra Mile Award at The National Chef of the Year VIP celebration which takes place at Adam Handling’s The Frog in Covent Garden.

If you are unable to make it to The Restaurant Show, you can discover who the winners of both the overall competition and this new award are by following the Craft Guild of Chefs and the #NCOTY hashtag on Twitter @Craft_Guild, Instagram @CraftGuildofChefs and www.facebook.com/craftguildofchefs..

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

June, 2018
For immediate release

A strong focus on sourcing and seasonality, innovation and creativity are the key ingredients in creating a National Chef of the Year finalist

Following a series of exciting cook-offs at Sheffield College and Le Cordon Bleu, the Craft Guild of Chefs has revealed its ten talented chefs for the National Chef of the Year final. Under the watchful eyes of some of the culinary world heavyweights, four heat winners and six runners-up cooked up a storm to take their place in the UK’s most prestigious culinary final.  

Last week, Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle, took the first place in the NCOTY final when he won the Sheffield heat. Today he was joined by fellow heat winners, George Blogg from Gravetye Manor, Glenn Evans from Las Iguanas and Liam Fauchard-Newman who works at Rhubarb/Fenchurch.

Joining them at The Restaurant Show on the 2nd October are the six chefs who received the next highest scores across all four heats. These chefs were named as Martin Frickel from The Forestside, David Neilson who works at Number One at the Balmoral, Nick Smith from Harbour & Jones Ashurst, Kuba Winkowski from The Feathered Nest Inn, Stefan Sewell from CSCAT, Thomas Westerland who works at Lucknam Park.

Chair of judges, Gary Jones, executive chef from Belmond Le Manoir said: “What a week it’s been for the National Chef of the Year competition. Some of the cooking has been exceptional which made it a challenge for the judges to whittle 40 chefs down to just ten. What really stood out for me was how much the finalists listened to the brief this year and focused on the sourcing of their ingredients, considered seasonality when planning their menus, as well as showcasing their creativity and innovation. It’s set to be one of our most exciting finals yet and I can’t wait to judge it in October.”

Organiser of the competition and Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs, David Mulcahy added: “It wasn’t an easy brief this year with a vegetarian starter thrown into the mix and a very classic dessert brought in to truly test each chef’s culinary skills. However, the semi- finalists really embraced the challenge when putting together their menus. We saw a real variety of menus and this showed the diverse range of chefs we had from all sectors of hospitality. For those who didn’t make the top ten, I hope they have really learnt from this experience, and come back and try again next year. Whatever stage you get to, NCOTY helps every chef to grow and develop in some way.”

Before the final, all ten chefs will take part in a Mentor Day on Tuesday, 11th September where the mystery basket of ingredients will be revealed. Some big names have already been confirmed to judge the final exam which takes place at The Restaurant Show on Tuesday, 2nd October including Tom Kerridge, Clare Smyth, Philip Howard, Ollie Dabbous and Mark Flanagan.

At today’s award ceremony, the organisers also revealed the six talented young chefs taking the Young National Chef of the Year final spots. This included heat winner from Sheffield, Jamie Mackinnon who works at The Seafood Restaurant in St Andrews. He was joined by the London heat winner, Henry Wadsworth from Belmond Le Manoir. Claiming the remaining places in the YNCOTY final are Jonathan Ferguson from Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Thomas Reeves who works at L’Enclume, Arron Tye from Grosvenor Pulford and Aaron Middleton who works at The Above Restaurant. These six chefs join Gilles Varone who works at Petrus and was the Highest Achiever in the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Graduate Awards, Luke Turner from L’Enclume who won the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year and Supatthra Viriphan who works at Chewton Glen and represents World Skills. The final place will be the winner of the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence which will be announced in July.

Following the Young National Chef of the Year heats, chair of judges, Mark Sargeant commented: “I know I say it every year, but these young chefs really could compete with the senior chefs. In all the years I’ve judged, I don’t think I have ever seen such enthusiasm and energy from a group of young chefs in a competition. It was incredible to see the level of food they put out in just 90 minutes. Hearing about where their ingredients had come from and their overall knowledge of sourcing and seasonality was really inspiring and the future is definitely in safe hands with so much young talent on its way through.”

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