Thoughts of National Chef of the Year Sheffield Semi-finalists

Today is the first of the National Chef of the Year semi-finals and we’ve been catching up with some of the chefs taking part to find out how they are feeling and what getting through to the next stage would mean to them.

“I wanted to enter the competition, partly for a challenge for myself, and partly to have my food judged by some of the country’s top chefs. The thought of being named NCOTY is amazing! What other reason do I need. I thought the brief was fantastic, with both the risotto and the choux there is nowhere to hide, as with the chicken, a very unforgiving piece of meat that requires precise timings. I think I'm most looking forward to the adrenaline of the competition, the time restraints will bring that out, as to get my dishes done in that time is pushing it a little! Also I think the feedback good or bad is exciting, and if nothing else a time to learn.”
Danny Parker, Head Chef, House of Tides

“I entered NCOTY as I wanted a chance to showcase my skills, and compete against people I respect and view as my peers. I think this year it's a terrific brief. It might initially seem simplistic but it contains so many potential pitfalls, and what a fantastic blank canvas for a chef to showcase their skills. When I found out I had made the semi-final I was completely over the moon, but speechless. I gathered my thoughts, and the real work had to begin right then. Winning would mean the world to me right now. It would represent everything I've worked so hard to achieve and would give me a benchmark to build the rest of my career from.”
Jack Bradley, Junior Sous Chef, Hipping Hall

“This really is one of the biggest and most prestigious competitions you can enter as a chef in the UK and to be part of it is a very proud moment for me in my career. The brief is challenging but I'm sure it has had all the competitors thinking hard, as it did me, to create something that showcases the ingredients but also shows the knowledge of the basics. I'm really just looking forward to competing as Welsh Chef was my first competition and this will be my second so it's all a great experience as far as I'm concerned. Winning the competition would without doubt be my greatest achievement yet, just looking at the previous winners shows just how important this can be, but at the moment I'm just happy to cooking and competing.”
Benjamin Taylor, Head Chef, Lucknam Park

“I decided to enter as it is the best chef competition in the country. No others compare to National Chef of the Year. The brief for this year was quite tricky. Each course has a real element of skill required. I felt over the moon when I found out I was in the semi-finals. I was in the semi-finals two years ago and it's a great buzz. I'm looking forward to getting in the kitchen, getting my head down and hopefully producing three great dishes. Winning National Chef of the Year would be the ultimate achievement. It's the most sought after accolade in cooking, it would be a dream come true.”
Liam Mckenna, Head Chef, Trump International


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