Meet some of London Heat 2 competitors

It’s just days until we will know our ten National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) finalists and we’ve been catching up with some of the chefs who will be battling it out in Heat 2 this Wednesday (22nd June 2016).

“I entered NCOTY this year as it was good fun last year and it was great to be involved in it. The brief this year is quite interesting as it allows us to showcase basic recipes in our own style. When I found out I made it to the semi-final again this year, I felt really happy as I am given another shot at the title, having come in 3rd place last year. I am looking forward to meeting other chefs especially ones I met last year and also new ones and have a look at the food from different restaurants. Also it’s a great opportunity to get criticism from a great line up of established chefs. Winning NCOTY would be a great push forward and help me immensely in furthering my career.”
Martin Carabott – Senior Sous Chef, The Royal Automobile Association

“NCOTY is one of the most highly recognised competition amongst chefs, that you have to enter into at least once in your chef-ing career. I thought the brief for 2016 was good because it puts everyone on a level playing field, however I think it will be tough because making choux pastry is tricky enough when you know your oven, but doing it in a competition with ovens that you are not familiar with is going to be challenging, I really enjoy the competition itself and I am also very interested to see what the other contestants produce on the day. To win would just be amazing; it would be the cherry on the top to what has turned out to be a very exciting year!”
Diane Camp – Development Chef, Reynolds

“I decided to enter NCOTY to test myself on my abilities and on what I could achieve at the highest level. It was also to inspire other chefs within my kitchen and company to enter the competition arena. I thought the brief was very good in terms of the technical elements needed to produce such dishes. Every proper chef would understand how to perfect each technique required. I was anxiously waiting on the announcement of the semi-finalists and when I saw the shortlist I was totally ecstatic, elated and screamed out with a tremendous roar to see my name on there. It’s a massive achievement on its own. It would mean everything to win such a prestigious competition, to be acknowledge by the best within our industry and to give me the profile to mentor a future generation of chefs to push for the best.”
Nicholas Smith, Head Chef, Vacherin

“I entered NCOTY as I wanted to test my skills against other chefs in the industry. The brief was quite challenging but exciting and I had some great fun playing around with different ideas. When I heard I was through to the semi-final, I was amazed. I didn't expect to get though especially seeing the calibre of some of the other chefs. I’m looking forward to getting feedback from the judges on how I can improve. Winning would mean everything to prove that hard work pays off.”
Tom Westerland, Junior Sous Chef, Lucknam Park

“I entered the National Chef of the Year because it’s by far the most prestigious competition out there and to have my name on the list of previous winners would be phenomenal. The brief this year was good, I felt it will show how some people stick to classics and do them well and others will take the tasks in a different direction but it gives the chance for all styles of chefs to compete fairly. I was so chuffed when I found out I was in the semi-finals but also then the nerves set in as I will be cooking against some amazing chefs. I am really looking forward to getting into the kitchen and showing what I can do. I run a little pub in the Kent countryside so even getting this far and being up against some of the other great chefs is amazing. Winning NCOTY would be unbelievable. To win an award like this is such high praise, but also very important and it would make my little boy very proud.”
Robert Taylor, Chef Owner, Compasses Inn

“I have a real hunger and determination to get to the final 10 in this amazing competition. You put in a lot of hard work to get there, but the reward and joy of satisfaction after competing always far outweighs it. This year is a deceiving brief. You look at it and think that’s ok, I can do that. But it’s when you get into it, you realise trying to find something new and innovative out of a risotto and chicken dish to impress the judges is very, very tough! I was ecstatic to hear I had made the heats and also very humbled that the judges thought my dishes were up there and deserved a place in the semi-finals. I hate the build up to these competitions, its nerve racking. With this said I absolutely love the competition itself, pushing yourself to the limit and pipping against the best chefs in the country. What’s not to like about that! All the hard work and long hours I’ve put in since I was 15 years old would be for that pinnacle moment of proudness for winning something like this. You wouldn't ever be able to beat it.”
Ollie Hay, Senior Sous Chef, Restaurant Associates, Clifford Chance

“I wanted to enter for the opportunity to cook for the judges and against the other contestants. NCOTY is a great way to promote yourself and also help to open doors in the future. This year’s brief was a great way to see how creative we could be with a simple brief that we can build up, with a short time frame to get it done. I had a lot of fun putting my ideas together. When I found out I was in the semi-final, I was happy, a little nervous and excited, I hadn’t actually cooked the dishes altogether so my first thought was I had better get moving! Taking the title of NCOTY would be a great achievement and something to be really proud of.”
Gavin Edney, Head Chef, Cliveden House


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