Meet the Sheffield semi-finalist: Marc Billings, sous chef at Prestwold Hall in Leicestershire.

Sheffield semi-finalist, Marc Billings, has known about National Chef of the Year for many years as it's the most prestigious competition in the UK with a long list of iconic past winners. He has always wanted to enter but has felt he was not ready professionally. This year he felt he was ready to “light the blue touch paper.” We asked him how he was feeling about the competition ahead of the big day.  

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

I learnt whilst I was at work about my place in the semi-finals. It felt like a long wait but well worth it.

How did you celebrate your achievement?

I didn't celebrate but the one thing I knew I wanted to do was to share the good news with my wife, children, family and friends. I knew the hard work was still to come.

How have you been preparing for the cook-off?

My preparation for the semis has been rigorous. Careful planning and practise sessions are crucial but not forgetting to enjoy the whole process. It’s very exciting

Who has inspired your career?

I have always been inspired by people who work hard and reap the rewards of their endeavours. I have cooked alongside many chefs who have achieved magnificent things.

Which of the courses are you most looking forward to cooking for the judges?

As a hopeless lover of chocolate, my dessert is the one closest to my heart or even stomach. The dessert is inspired by the great chef Nico Ladenis. I have eaten one or two chocolate tarts in my time and for me his version is the best. I hope my interpretation does it justice and the judges feel the same way.

Tell us something not many people know about you.

One thing people won't know about me is that I sing like a diva when I am alone driving.

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