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 February 1st 2019, from across all sectors of the industry. Entrants are required to devise an innovative menu for two people.

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

The menu must consist of:


The Perfect Egg Dish served hot, to the competitor’s choice
Suitable for a spring/summer menu and perfectly balanced


A beef dish to include 2 cuts and 2 cooking methods suitable for summer season
Note 1: Beef to be sourced from UK. Competitors to indicate breed of beef, farm sourced from & maturation period. 
Note 2: competitors may cook one beef element (eg.slow-cooked/braised element) in advance and finish on the day. 


A Chocolate Tart incorporating or garnished with seasonal fruits
Note: Focus on skills- the perfect pastry, filling, texture execution of dessert.   



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 – 1st October 2019

As the industry’s leading trade show, attracting around 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.

Please click here to view the Mystery Basket list of ingredients presented to our competitors.

The Task:
Competitors are required to produce a three (3) course menu for 4 covers within 2 hours.
• Service may begin after 45 minutes, in course order.
• All courses must be served within the 2 hour period.

First Course – A flavoursome starter based on Bouillabaisse using a selection of sustainable seafood to the competitor’s choice

Main course - A creative main course dish using cuts from a whole British Suckling Pig, fully garnished
o Competitors may pre braise or pre-cook one element of the suckling pig ensuring 2 cuts or more in the final dish, as per the semi final
o A braising liquor or stock will be permitted, finished sauces will NOT and penalty points will be issued if the judges feel this has been breached.
o Competitors are required to specify the cuts required for delivery to the Restaurant Show.
o A sample will be sent to competitors following the mentor day to be discussed with the sponsor.

Dessert - A dessert focusing on seasonal Pears served hot or cold to the competitor’s choice


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 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 Wednesday 6th February 2019
Close Off Date for NCOTY Entries Friday 22nd March 2019
Paper Judging Wednesday 15th May 2019
Announcement of Semi Finalists Friday 17th May 2019
Semi Finals Tuesday 11th June - Sheffield College, Sheffield
  Tuesday 18th June - Le Cordon Bleu, London
NCOTY Mentors Day Tuesday 10th September 2019
The Final Tuesday 1st October 2019, The Restaurant Show, London
Awards Ceremony Tuesday 1st October 2019, The Restaurant Show, London
VIP Celebration Dinner Tuesday 1st October 2019, Claude Bosi, Bibendum, London

In Partnership With

Supported By

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