A few weeks ago, we delved a little deeper into the brief created by Gary Jones as Chair of judges and we wanted to explore what former NCOTY competitors thought of the outline he has put together for those entering this year.
The closing date for National Chef of the Year entries is the 22nd March 2019 so there’s still plenty of time for you to get involved. Whilst chefs are busy planning their menus over these final few weeks, we got the thoughts of five former finalists on this year’s very British brief.
Glenn Evans
Every brief excites me, I look forward to it being announced and my mind works overtime when I see it. I still want to put a South American spin on everything, and it is good to work out how to do this within the brief. I love the idea of cooking one element in advance as this widens the cuts of meat you can use and will take a bit more pressure off the chefs who make the semi-finals which is good.
It’s really important that Gary has stipulated British beef. Why not use what is on our doorstep? There are all sorts of breeds to experiment with that I wouldn’t normally use in my restaurant and it is good to discover how they work with my South American colours and flavours.
Nick Smith
It’s a wicked brief which really makes you think. Beef is great as you can do so much with it and trying to make it into a summery dish is an interesting angle. There are not a lot of places to hide with a tart for dessert as it requires lots of skill and is difficult to get right. It’s a challenging but excellent brief. The cooking in advance is good and will change the competition a bit as it adds something a little different for this year. Provenance is important so I was pleased to see the use of British beef. I always want to know the provenance of ingredients and am keen to show this on the menu at work.  
I love researching the ingredients and speaking to the farmers and suppliers who are always so helpful. It is great seeing them so excited to be a part of the NCOTY competition too.
Adam Thomason
The brief is exciting. Chefs spend hours creating dishes and this gives them the chance to use and show off a whole different skillset.  The variety of ingredients is huge and there are a million and one dishes you can make from it, so it will be really interesting to see what the semi-finalists put together.
The British brief is important as you can use local produce which will be tastier, have less air miles and will be helping local businesses. These are all important factors in the survival of our industry.
The menu creation is the best bit of the competition. You can put your brain away from work and look at just focusing on creating amazing dishes – the tricky bit is narrowing it down, so you don’t do too much. Coming up with the ideas is by the far the best bit, together with the hope that every chef will relate to them and enjoy them if you make it to the semi-final.
Simon Webb
It makes complete sense to have a British brief as it is a UK competition. I remember a few years ago there were different categories, European, Asian, British etc and you could choose what brief you wanted to do. However, the competition has really evolved in recent years and I think it makes sense to have one brief which all chefs are working on. Cooking one piece in advance is also a good addition because it gives you more control over your dish and lets you achieve something you wouldn’t be able to achieve in just two hours.
George Blogg
With a focus on food miles and regional cuisine, a British brief is crucial. It is a lovely menu that should be very well balanced, although it will definitely test all the semi-finalists who make it past the first stage.
Put your skills to the test
We’d love as many chefs as possible to enter National Chef of the Year 2019. You can start your online entry today and keep coming back to the form until you are ready to submit. Register for the competition here.

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