Craft Guild announces NCOTY semi-finalists and a surge in interest levels for 2016

Today, the world is one step closer to finding out who will be the next National Chef of the Year (NCOTY), with the announcement of the competition’s semi-finalists. The Craft Guild of Chefs has also revealed that this year saw the highest recorded level of interest in the competition ever, with 159 entries on the new National Chef of the Year website and over 400 chefs registered to view the brief.

To celebrate the impressive number of chefs who entered and registered, the Craft Guild has released some key figures from the competition so far:

National Chef of the Year in Numbers:

• 159 entry forms received from hopeful chefs
• Back in 1972, in the competition’s first year just 19 chefs entered, highlighting the dramatic rise of what is now regarded as the UK’s most prestigious culinary title
• 11 expert judges deliberated for over 20 hours each, that’s 220 hours in total, to whittle the entries down to the 40 semi-finalists
• The semi-finals will last for a total of 360 minutes, at the end of which just 10 chefs will be announced as finalists
• With the toughest skills test yet, the judges’ focus will be on three key elements, a perfect risotto, an innovative chicken dish and a stunning choux pastry dessert
• Chefs from over 500 different establishments have entered NCOTY since it began in 1972.

David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the National Chef of the Year competition, commented on the competition so far:

“As the leading culinary challenge in the UK today and recognised across the industry, the National Chef of the Year is as strong today as it was in 1972 when it was first introduced. Following the paper entry stage all judges agreed that the standard this year has improved on recent years, and I have no doubt that we are in for a tough competition. The focus on a very clear set of skills at the semi-final stage will determine who deserves to go through to the final stages where they will be able to show their own personal innovation and skills with what will be the best mystery basket yet. The National Chef of the Year continues to grow and develop and to reflect today’s fast paced and exciting industry.”

The 40 semi-finalist chefs who made the grade come from around the UK, from a variety of establishments and backgrounds. These include contract caterers, pubs and even food suppliers and colleges, as well as some of the country’s best hotels and restaurants:

Andy Wright- Restaurant 23
Robert Cox- Tudor Farmhouse Hotel
Liam McKenna- Trump International
James Devine- Deanes Eipic
Daniel Parker- House of Tides
Jack Bradley- Hipping Hall
Dion Wyn Jones- Lion and pheasant townhouse hotel
Rohan Wadke- Forth Valley College
Paul Foster- Salt
Matthew John- The Waggon Inn
Jake Jones- The Grand Hotel and Spa
Martin Carabott- The Royal Automobile Club
Thomas Westerland- Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa
Ollie Hay- Restaurant Associates
Diane Camp- Reynolds
Gavin Edney- Cliveden house
Nicholas Smith- Vacherin
Stephanie Coupland- Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
Andrew Mckee- Lough Erne Resort
Kamil Wierzbowski- Petrus Restaurant, Gordon Ramsay
Robert Taylor- Compasses inn
Jahdre Hayward- Haywards Restaurant
Sally Abe- Great British Chefs
Adam Handling- Adam Handling Restaurant Group
John Price Nomura - Restaurant Associates
Adam Thomason- Restaurant Associates
Simon McKenzie- The Old Government House Hotel and Spa
Cormac Mc Creary- The Ritz
Aidan McGee- The Truscott arms
James Buckley- Levy Restaurants @Excel london
Sarah-Jasmina Moussabih 10 Feet Tall
Luciano Lucioli Lusso - CH&Co
Ben Murphy- The Woodford
Simon Webb- Restaurant Associates
Grzegorz Olejarka-Grain Store Cafe and Bar
Philip Harrison- Anglesea Arms
Jenny Warner- The Thomas Cubitt
Neil Yule -Sodexo
Andrew Birch- Fishmore Hall Hotel
Bobby Retnakumar- Geetha Hilton Hotels UK

Chairman of Judges, Clare Smyth MBE, commented on this year’s competitors:

“What’s fantastic about this competition is not only does the number of entrants grow each year but the quality of the entries continues to rise. Having discussed the entries and menus at length with my fellow judges I know it is going to be a very tough, close and exciting semi-final. On a personal note, I’m delighted to see five female chefs make the top 40 which is the highest we’ve ever had and is something as a committee we’ve really encouraged for the last few years. I hope the chefs will grab this opportunity with both hands and ensure they are ready for it!"
Following the semi-finals, the ten highest scoring chefs will then face the ultimate challenge in the NCOTY final on the 4th October at the Restaurant Show.

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 07836365427.
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.

National Chef of the Year expert entry tips revealed ahead of deadline extension

There is good news this week for any chefs still working on their National Chef of the Year entry form. The Craft Guild of Chefs has extended the entry deadline for National Chef of the Year 2017. Chefs now have until Friday 15th April to visit www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk and submit their entry form online for judging.

To coincide with the extension announcement, the Craft Guild of Chefs has released seven expert tips from judges and past winners. David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) competition, explained further:
“We know what a challenge preparing the perfect entry can be, so along with the decision to extend the deadline we’re also releasing some valuable advice. The guidance comes straight from the National Chef of the Year Hall of Fame, with advice from several successful chefs including Alyn Williams, Mark Sargeant and the current title-holder Larry Jayasekara. We’ve distilled the expertise of these industry leaders into a series of succinct top tips on what it takes to win, starting with advice on a winning entry form. We’d advise anyone who has yet to enter to refer to the tips and really try to apply them to their own entry in order to give themselves the best possible chance of success.”

1. Read and read again
“It sounds simple but it really is so important that chefs read the brief and entry guidelines over and over again to ensure nothing has been missed” – David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the National Chef of the Year

2. Prioritise your presentation
“Take pride in your entry as it is an extension of you as a chef. It goes without saying it should be neatly formatted and the attached photos should be in focus, correct orientation and free from scattered and smeared mise en place in shot.” – Hayden Groves, Judge and 2013 National Chef of the Year

3. Showcase but don’t show off
“Keep it simple. Use the entry form to showcase your skills, knowledge and taste but avoid the temptation to show off.” – Mark Sargeant, Former National Chef of the Year and ambassador for Young National Chef of the Year

4. Write it for a plumber not a chef
“Make sure your paper entry is clean to read, well presented and makes sense. Don’t write a recipe as though another chef is reading it, write it as if a plumber is reading it and can follow it from start to finish.” - Simon Hulstone, National Chef of the Year 2008

5. A good title gets attention
“A good title for your dish will stand out and get you noticed right away. It needs to be something straightforward that gives judges an idea of the techniques and flavours they can expect from your dish.” Alyn Williams, Judge and National Chef of the Year 2012

6. Consistency is key
“Be consistent throughout the competition. All the dishes you create have to be ten out of ten if you want to win. Keep that in mind from the beginning when you’re at the entry form stage.” – Larry Jayasekara, Current 2016 National Chef of the Year

7. Put all your effort in
“Even if you are fantastic in the kitchen, it’s what’s on the entry form that will get you through to the next stage. You’ve got to put all your effort in, just as you would with cooking. We know chefs are busy people with limited time but this is a very difficult stage and dedication is required to complete the form to a high standard.” - Clare Smyth MBE, Chairman of Judges and Chef Patron at three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Enter online now:

The seven expert tips, plus more in-depth advice can all be found on the dedicated website at www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk, where for the first time ever, chefs can enter online.

A shortlist of forty chefs for the semi-finals will be revealed on 24th May following the paper judging. This year’s heats will take place at Sheffield College on Tuesday, 14th June, and at Le Cordon Bleu in London on Wednesday, 22nd June. Only ten chefs will go through to the National Chef of the Year final, which takes place at the Restaurant Show on Tuesday, 4th October.

The National Chef of the Year competition is run in partnership with KNORR and Lockhart Catering Equipment, and is supported by Evolve, CCS, Churchill, British Premium Meats, Cacao Barry, Wild Harvest, Direct Seafood and Sous Vide Tools.

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 07876365427.

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.

Search gets underway for a new Young National Chef of the Year

The Craft Guild of Chefs, in partnership with Unilever Food Solutions, has today officially launched its search for the most exciting, up-and-coming culinary talent in the UK.

To kick-start the hunt the Guild has unveiled which 15 competitions or examinations the Young National Chef of the Year (YNCOTY) finalists and semi-finalists will be coming from.

The overall winners from the British Culinary Federation, the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence, World Skills UK and the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Graduate Award will be automatically seeded a place in the final.

The final six places will be taken by those who score the highest at two semi-finals in June. To get a place in the semi-final young chefs must have already wowed the judges in one of these competitions or examinations over the last year:

  • South West Young Chef of the Year
  • The Master Chefs of Great Britain Young Chef of the Year
  • Chaine des Rotisseurs Young Chef
  • North West Chef of the Year
  • Young Scottish Chef of the Year
  • Young North East Chef of the Year
  • Guernsey Young Chef of the Year
  • Young Welsh Chef of the Year
  • Young Game Chef of the Year
  • Young Grampian Chef of the Year
  • UK Skills runner up
  • Craft Guild of Chefs’ Graduate Awards

The semi-finals are to be held at Sheffield College on Tuesday, 14th June and at Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London on Wednesday 22nd June to coincide with the National Chef of the Year semi-finals.

David Mulcahy, the competition organiser and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs said “The standard of dishes served up by young chefs impresses the judges year on year which is why we seed through only the highest calibre of young talent the UK has to offer. All semi-finalists will already have been put through their paces and should be ready to take on the challenge of becoming Young National Chef of the Year. Not only does this competition celebrate young talent but it ensures that the chefs are mentored and supported throughout, enabling them to achieve their best in the final. Winning Young National Chef of the Year firmly establishes a chef as a rising star of the culinary world both in the UK and beyond.”

Young National Chef of the Year Ambassador, Mark Sargeant has high expectations for this year’s competition and commented: “It's always an absolute pleasure to be involved with YNCOTY and to witness the competition go from strength to strength. Each year the standards get higher and I'm really looking forward to seeing what talent this year’s competition brings.”

Being crowned as Young National Chef of the Year is a highly sought after prize but as well as going home with this prestigious accolade, the winner will also receive some incredible stagiaire and PR opportunities that will truly raise their profile in the industry.

Danny Hoang, who took the title of YNCOTY in October 2015 agreed and added “Being seeded into the live final of the Young National Chef of the Year competition was an honour in itself but to go on to win it was more than I could ever have hoped. I loved every part of this competition and have had some incredible opportunities since winning but there’s still plenty more to come. If you are looking to get your name seen and heard, this is definitely a competition to be part of.”

This year’s winner will be revealed along with the National Chef of the Year at an awards ceremony following The Restaurant Show on Tuesday 4th October 2016.

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 07876 365427.

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 on

The search is on

Craft Guild of Chefs begins search for new National Chef of the Year

The search to discover who will be crowned this year’s National Chef of the Year is underway as the Craft Guild of Chefs has opened the entries for this year’s competition.

Over the last 44 years, the UK’s most prestigious and respected culinary competition has shone a spotlight on the fresh talent coming out of kitchens. Previous winners such as Gordon Ramsay, Alyn Williams and Mark Sargeant have demonstrated how it helps fast-track careers and put winners firmly on the map, and on the path to Michelin stars.

For the first stage of the contest, competitors are required to produce a creative lunch menu for four guests that could be cooked-up within two hours. The menu must consist of a risotto starter of the competitor’s choice; a main course using a whole chicken, with appropriate accompaniments and a choux pastry dessert of choice.

David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the National Chef of the Year competition said “I always feel a sense of excitement on launch day as the brief for this year’s competition is unveiled and the buzz about the competition begins once again. Whether you have entered this competition before or are considering putting your skills to the ultimate challenge for the first time, I’d recommend entering. You just never know how far it could take you. This competition is not based on a chef’s personality or past triumphs but simply on culinary skills, interpretation of the ingredients and what chefs can create when the heat is really on.”

The winning chef will receive a wide range of prizes including a culinary trip to one of the world’s top restaurants, stagiaire opportunities, equipment from sponsors and chocolate workshops. Best of all is the wealth of opportunities that earning this prestigious accolade can bring. The winner will go on to be part of the National Chef of the Year 'Hall of Fame', which really sets them apart from their peers and offers the chance to meet and work with their culinary heroes.

Clare Smyth MBE, Chair of Judges said “Being known as the National Chef of the Year really is career changing. I want to encourage chefs from across all sectors to take part as it’s a fantastic platform to get your name out there. I am proud to be involved in the most respected culinary competition in the UK. We’ve created a really interesting brief for this year and I’m looking forward to seeing the menus that come in over the next few months.”

The competition is open to chefs who are 24 years or older as of April 1st 2016. Competitors may come from all areas of the hospitality business including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors and may be working in the UK or overseas.

Last year’s winner, Larry Jayasekara, sous chef at Gordon Ramsay Holdings will never forget the moment he was announced as National Chef of the Year 2016. He said “It’s something I’ve always wanted and a dream I was never going to give up on. Simply having the opportunity for your food to be sampled by some of the UK’s most well-respected judges is incredible. However, nothing can beat that moment when you are standing in a line with some of the most talented and up and coming chefs in the UK and it’s you that is declared as the winner. Good luck to all the chefs entering this year, whatever stage you get to you won’t regret being part of this experience.”

Chefs have until Friday, 8th April, to submit their entry for paper judging via the new National Chef of the Year website at www.nationalchefoftheyear. The dedicated NCOTY site will be packed full of latest news, advice and inspiration and will updated throughout the competition.

A shortlist of 40 chefs for the semi-finals will be revealed on 24th May following the paper judging on the 20th. This year’s heats will take place at Sheffield College on Tuesday, 14th June, and at Le Cordon Bleu in London on Wednesday, 22nd June. Only ten chefs will go through to the National Chef of the Year final, which takes place at the Restaurant Show on Tuesday, 4th October.

The National Chef of the Year competition is run in partnership with KNORR and Lockhart Catering Equipment and is supported by Evolve, CCS, Churchill, British Premium Meats, Cacao Barry, Wild Harvest, Direct Seafood and Sous Vide Tools.

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 from Michelin starred restaurants to school catering divisions.

  • 40+

    Respected
    Judges

  • 9mil

    PR Reach

  • 6000+

    Facebook Reach

  • 200+

    Instagram Photos Shared

  • 1000+

    Twitter Followers

  • 7000+

    Tweets

In Partnership With

Supported By

previous arrow
next arrow
Slider