The Ultimate Culinary Challenge

As the UK’s most prestigious and respected culinary contest The National Chef of the Year competition shines a spotlight on the fresh talent coming out of the kitchen. Since it launched in 1972, previous winners like Gordon Ramsay, Alyn Williams and Mark Sargeant have seen how it helps fast-track careers to put winners firmly on the map, and on the path to Michelin stars. But this isn’t about style over substance: only the best, most innovative and creative chefs get a shot at the title – and an award that opens doors to future success.

Winning this competition is all about the chefs’ individual performances on the day in front of a panel of respected judges. It is not based on their personality or past triumphs but on culinary skills and interpretation of the ingredients they demonstrate when the heat is on!


The Programme

Entry Generation

– February 

Open to all chefs over the age of 24 as of April 1st 2017, from across all sectors of the industry. Entrants are required to devise an innovative menu for two people.

Competitors are required to produce a creative lunch menu for two guests within 2 hours.

The menu must consist of:

  • Starter: A seasonal plant based vegetarian dish to the competitor's choice incorporating suitable grains or pulses.
    • Note: Dairy and eggs are permitted.
  • Main Course: A lamb dish to include 2 cuts and 2 cooking methods suitable for summer season.
    • Note: Lamb should be sourced from the UK. Competitiors to indicate breed of Lmab and farm sourced from.
  • Dessert: A modern approach to a classic 'floating island' dish, to include a seasonal fruit element to competitor's choice.
    • Note: Focus on skills- the perfect floating islands. 


A judging panel of over 40 respected chefs within the industry are selected for all elements of the competition from paper judging to semi finals and the final.

Paper Judging

– May 

Expert judges receive the entry forms and convene to make their selection ensuring all entries go through a rigorous process prior to being excepted as semi finalists. 

Announcement of Semi Finalists

– May

Announced to the industry through national and regional press, adverts, advertorial as well as an online and social media campaign.

Semi Finals

– June

Regional heats hosting 40 semi finalists. Sponsors are invited to meet all semi finalists, the judging team, visiting members of the Guild and media.

Mentor Day

– September 

No other competition within the UK, at this level, includes such a highly motivational activity aimed at ensuring competitors are fully prepared for the task ahead.

The official launching of the mystery basket gives competitors the opportunity to engage with key competition mentors, judges, sponsors and effectively focus on all aspects of the final - preparing them for the process. All ingredients and products are on display for competitors to handle and ask any relevant questions. Sponsors are given the opportunity to present to all competitors (with the possibility of hosting a specific masterclass, if relevant to the product on the day).

The Final

The Restaurant Show – 2nd October 2018

As the industry’s leading trade show, attracting over 10,500 industry buyers, it is fitting that the live final should take place at The Restaurant Show. Visitors will have the opportunity to visit the show, network with fellow colleagues, meet new & existing suppliers as well as experience the excitement of the intense cook-off where the finalists will compete in this highly charged atmosphere for the coveted National Chef of the Year title.

Announcement of the Winners

A prestigious Awards Ceremony to announce the winners, serving canapés and Champagne, will be hosted at the Stage, at The Restaurant Show.  Attended by all competitors, sponsors, trade press, ambassador judges and key industry members. The event will be by invitation only to ensure a select and targeted audience.

VIP Awards Celebration

Following the Awards Announcement all finalists, sponsors, media and judges are invited to attend an exclusive VIP celebration at the RAC Club in London to mark the new NCOTY & YNCOTY Winners. Fortnum and Mason's Mosimann's, the House of Commons, Quo Vadis, The Square and Harrods Food Hall have all played host in recent years for this prestigious evening.


The Programme Dates

Launch of NCOTY Thursday 1st February 2018
Close Off Date for NCOTY Entries Friday 30th March 2018
Paper Judging Wednesday 16th May 2018
Announcement of Semi Finalists Friday 18th May 2018
Semi Finals Tuesday 12th June - Sheffield College, Sheffield
  Tuesday 19th June - Le Cordon Bleu, London
NCOTY Mentors Day To be confirmed
The Final Tuesday 2nd October 2018, The Restaurant Show, London
Awards Ceremony Tuesday 2nd October 2018, The Restaurant Show, London
VIP Celebration Dinner Tuesday 2nd October 2018, RAC Club, Piccadilly, London

In Partnership With

Supported By

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