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Meet the Sheffield semi-finalist: Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle

Last year Derek Johnstone took the third place spot at the National Chef of the Year final at The Restaurant Show and we are delighted to have him back in the competition again this year. He’s cooking in the Sheffield heat in just a few days and so we’ve been finding out a little more about him and his journey. 

Tell us how you first heard about the competition and what attracted you to enter?

I have been aware of The National Chef of the Year competition for many years now. I have watched closely and seen the success the past winners have had in their careers. I decided I would like to compete and experience this amazing competition for myself.


Where were you when you first discovered you had made it into the National Chef of the Year semi-finals? 

I was working at Borthwick Castle when my name appeared on the social media channels which was an amazing moment.


How did you celebrate your achievement?

I haven’t had time to celebrate as I am now fully focused on cooking at the semi-final in Sheffield.


How are you preparing for the next stage of the competition?

I have been practicing my menu whenever possible, while forcing all my work colleagues to taste my dishes. Their feedback has been important and has helped to refine my dishes.

Who has been your biggest inspiration in your career so far?

There have been so many talented people that have inspired me throughout my career but Chef Albert Roux & Chef Michel Roux Jnr have been my biggest inspirations!


Which part of the menu are you most looking forward to serving up and what was your inspiration for this dish?

I cannot wait to cook it all, I think the brief is really challenging this year which I am very excited about.

How will you feel if your name is called out as a finalist?

I would be absolutely delighted if I could make the final. This is such a difficult competition and to make the finale will be a great achievement.


Tell us something that followers of the competition may not already know about you.

My first ever job was flipping burgers in Burger King.

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