The National Chef of the Year judges announce 40 semi-finalists with “best set of entries ever”


The hospitality industry is one step closer to discovering who will be the next National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) following an in-depth day of deliberating led by chair of judges, Gary Jones, executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Forty chefs will now put their culinary skills to the test in one of four heats, in the hope they do enough to impress the judges and take a coveted finalist spot.


This year’s menu had to consist of the ‘Perfect Egg Dish’ starter served hot. It had to be suitable for a spring/summer menu and be perfectly balanced. Judges were looking for a beef main course to include two cuts and two cooking methods. The beef must be sourced from the UK and competitors had to indicate the breed of beef, farm sourced from and maturation period. For dessert, chefs needed to create a delicious chocolate tart incorporating or garnished with seasonal fruits.


When whittling down the list from over 100 entries, all 11 expert judges’ scores were based on an online form which includes descriptions of dishes, cooking method and photographs of the completed menus. Organisers remove all the chef names, job titles and workplaces, so judges are purely scoring their course on the information submitted. Feedback from the judges showed that overall the menus were some of the best they have ever seen at this stage, with a real understanding of seasonality, provenance and butchery skills highlighting the important relationships that chefs are building with their suppliers.


At the end of the judging session, Gary Jones said: “There were some exciting dishes and flavour combinations and it was fantastic to see some classics approached with an innovative, modern style. With improvements in technology and some brilliant food photography, we got to see plenty of detail at this stage and I am confident our judges are in for a real treat when it comes to tasting. Many of these judges have scored the first round for several years and all commented on the effort that our chefs had gone to, both in terms of thinking creatively and working on their sourcing with suppliers. That’s one of the reasons I included two cuts of meat in the main course as I was intrigued to see what chefs brought to the table, but they have truly risen to the challenge of this year’s brief.”


Organiser of the competition and Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs, David Mulcahy added: “Despite the industry facing challenging times and chefs being busier than ever, it was inspiring to see an increase in entries this year and I completely agree that it’s the best set of entries that we’ve seen at this stage. The National Chef of the Year is growing and developing year on year and continues to be a title that all competitive chefs want to win. However, regardless of who takes the crown, it provides so many opportunities and I hope these 40 chefs grab this chance and enjoy connecting with some of the biggest names in the UK culinary scene.”


Heat 1 of the competition will take place in Sheffield on Tuesday 11th June and the chefs invited to take part in this round are:
• Marc Billings, sous chef, Prestwold Hall
• Nick Edgar, head chef, The Ryebeck Hotel
• Scott Fairweather, head chef, The Black Swan, Ravenstonedale
• Derek Johnstone, head chef, Borthwick Castle
• Daniel McGeorge, head chef, Rothay Manor
• Marcin Pomierny, head chef, The Maids Head Hotel
• Matthew Ramsdale, senior sous chef, The Chester Grosvenor
• Rohan Wadke, head chef, Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
• Aled Williams, head of food, TRUEfoods & CHEFStable
• Daniel Griffiths, sous chef, Portmeirion hotel
The final three heats will be completed at Le Cordon Bleu in London on Tuesday, 18th June 2019 with an incredible line-up of chefs including:


Heat 2
• Ben Addems, senior CDP, Restaurant Interlude
• Ben Boeynaems, head chef, The Zetter Hotel
• Fraser Bruce, head chef, The Halsetown Inn
• Olivier Geyer, culinary executive head chef, Cuisine Solutions
• Arturo Granato, head chef, Club Gascon
• Ben Howarth, national exec development chef, Thomas Franks ltd
• Daniel Jones, head chef/owner, JT@3
• Lewis Linley, sous chef, Vacherin
• Stefan Sewell, Team Captain Combined Services Culinary Arts Team (CSCAT)
• Santosh Shah, executive chef, Baluchi


Heat 3
• Jake Burton Stewart, junior sous chef, The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn
• Charles Coulombeau, head chef, Gravetye Manor
• Liam Grime, military chef, Combined Services Culinary Arts Team (CSCAT)
• Harry Kirkpatrick, sous chef, Trinity Restaurant
• Mehdi Lahmadi, junior sous chef, Coworth Park Hotel
• Martin Lee, head chef, Hartwell House Hotel
• Renemar Pinedo, sous chef, The Feathered Nest Country Inn
• Jack Shaw, head chef, Lexington Catering
• Robert Sussex, senior sous chef, ISS
• Adam Thomason, executive chef, Genuine Dining Company

Heat 4
• Adam Degg, head pastry chef, Kerridge’s Bar & Grill
• Steve Groves, head chef, Roux at Parliament Square
• Karl O'Dell, head chef, Texture
• Ashley Randle, head chef, The Hambrough hotel
• Jozef Rogulski, executive head chef, The Stafford Hotel London
• Nick Smith, head chef, Vacherin/Ashurst
• Robert Taylor, chef/owner, Compasses Inn
• Matthew Waldron, head chef, Park House Restaurant
• Christopher Willis, hospitality head chef, BNP Paribas
• Jonathan Zammit, executive sous chef, Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa
Only the winner of each heat will automatically be seeded into the final which takes place on Tuesday 1st October at The Restaurant Show. The final six places are given to the chefs who achieve the next highest scores across all heats. 27 judges are already confirmed to help find the finalists including Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Josh Overington, Alyn Williams, James 'Jocky' Petrie, Hywel Jones, Ben Tish and Stephen Terry.
The National Chef of the Year is organised in partnership with Bunzl Lockhart and KNORR and supported by Evolve, Ritter Courivaud, UNOX, CCS, Churchill, British Premium Meats, Mash, Santa Maria, Sousvide Tools, Direct Seafood, HIT, OpenTable UK 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 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.

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.

winners5

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

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