Meet the National Chef of the Year semi-finalists: Nick Smith
With just a few days until the next round of heats in National Chef of the Year, we’ve been hearing from Nick Smith who is head chef for Harbour & Jones. How is he feeling ahead of the semi-finals and what would winning mean to him?
Tell us how you first heard about the competition and what attracted you to enter?
I first heard of National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) via my current executive chef who previously competed himself. He explained to me that it is a great test of your character, skills and abilities as a chef and this attracted me to take part in the competition.
Where were you when you first discovered you had made it into the National Chef of the Year semi-finals?
The day of the announcement for the NCOTY semi-finalists I was at work seeing out service for lunch. Myself and the whole brigade were waiting on tentative hooks for the revealing of the names. When we saw my name on the list it was a very proud moment and one of the best services I've had.
How did you celebrate your achievement?
It is always a very overwhelming experience to be selected for a competition like this and it is more so when you have amazing support behind you, so it was only fitting to celebrate with the whole brigade and thank them for helping me achieve this.
How are you preparing for the next stage of the competition?
Practice, practice, practice.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in your career so far?
I think inspiration comes in many different forms and I couldn’t pin point it down to just one. I've worked with some amazing chefs that have taught me a lot and helped me become who I am. I've also bought books such as the Roux's, Marco and many others which have all inspired me to date.
Which part of the menu are you most looking forward to serving up and what was your inspiration for this dish?
I am looking forward to cooking all three of my dishes and I have really focused on them all. I love classical cookery with a modern approach and this is where my main inspiration has come from.
How will you feel if your name is called out as a finalist?
NCOTY is a very challenging competition, the amount of commitment, thought, care, passion and time that you need to invest and set yourself against is an emotional journey. If I was to successfully make it as a finalist I would truly be elated to be one step closer.
Tell us something that followers of the competition may not already know about you.
Obviously like many chefs, I truly love this industry and what it incorporates. I'm a very passionate individual and love the creative side of my chosen career and very proud of it. I love competing and the development that you gain from it. The kitchen is made up of so many different aspects and I enjoy them all, but I have always had a soft spot for the patisserie side.