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Meet the Sheffield semi-finalist: Aled Williams, head of food, TRUEfoods & CHEFStable

In just a few days, we’ll discover which chef has won the first heat of National Chef of the Year 2020 and is guaranteed a place in the final. One of the chefs in the running is Aled Williams and he’s been sharing his thoughts on the competition.

How did you hear about the competition?

Back in 2006, I was commis chef for Adam Simmonds in the final of NCOTY. Since then I have always been interested in the competition and eager to compete for myself.

Where were you when you heard the news you had made the semi-finals?

I was in the Test kitchen of TRUEfoods when the news was announced on social media. I was amongst some of the senior chefs and my MD Mitch, so it was fantastic to share the fantastic news with the team. My wife was also eagerly waiting for the live announcement so I then spoke to her and my mum to celebrate.

How did you celebrate this amazing achievement?

I am extremely proud and excited about reaching the semi-finals and being able to cook for some of my peers. However, I appreciate the hard part started the day I was given the good news so the celebration will start if I am honored enough to make the final.

How are you preparing for the final?

I have been practicing and perfecting my three dishes and tasting them with my colleagues. I’ve also been making sure the produce I will be using will be of the quality they need to be for the big day.

Who has inspired you during your career so far?

Chef Chris Chown from Plas Bodegroes in North Wales gave me my first break in a Michelin starred kitchen back in 2003. After working there for a couple of years I left to further my career and knowledge. I returned to the Plas Bodegroes in 2010 for my first head chef position, which was a huge honour for me as Chris has always been regarded as one of the greatest chefs Wales has ever had.

Which of the courses are you most looking forward to serving?

I am most looking forward to cooking my first course for the judges as I believe it takes more skill to take such a humble ingredient, like an egg, and make it shine as the star of the dish.

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

I am lucky enough to have heard my name read out at culinary competitions in my career and I know how life changing they can be. To go through as a heat winner would be unbelievable as I know how high the standard of chefs will be.

Tell us something people may not know about you.

I was the winner of the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship back in 2006 and Welsh champion on Great British Menu in 2010. This will be my third successive time to compete in the NCOTY semi-finals.

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