As the National Chef of the Year judges are busy looking over the menus in the coming weeks we caught up with four previous winners to find out what it has done for them and their careers.

“I was fortunate to win National Chef of the Year in 2008, a year after launching my own restaurant in Devon. The award instantly took my reputation from the hospitality industry to the general public. It boosted our restaurant, the team and even gave my small town of Torquay bragging rights of having the Nation’s best chef cooking in their town.”
Simon Hulstone

“Winning NCOTY was the pinnacle of my career and provided validation for everything I had done over the previous 26 years. It was also proof that you don’t have to have Michelin DNA running through your veins and that chefs from all backgrounds can dream to achieve. Since winning NCOTY, as well as my day-to-day cooking, I’ve enjoyed judging and mentoring young chefs in YNCOTY and working on my charity challenges.”s
Hayden Groves

“Winning NCOTY is a life changing event. It opens doors to all sorts of people in the hospitality industry which helps you as a chef in the longer term. However, the most important bit is gaining the confidence that you can cook, express yourself and are open to constructive criticism from established judges. This is valuable as this will be handy during crunch time in your career.”
Hrishikesh Desai

“NCOTY has undoubtedly changed my life, since winning last October. It’s almost acted as a catalyst and fast tracked certain steps in my career which otherwise may have taken several years. Winning NCOTY gave me validation and confidence in my own ability, which I couldn’t have gained in any kitchen. It has helped make me relevant amongst peers which previously wouldn’t have been possible.”
James Devine

The National Chef of the Year semi-finalists will be announced on Friday, 19th May 2017 via @Craft_Guild on Twitter. Good luck to all the chefs who have entered and watch this space.

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