Paul Ainsworth announced as Chair of Judges for The National Chef of the Year

The Craft Guild of Chefs has announced that Paul Ainsworth will take over as Chair of Judges for its 2020 and 2021 competitions. He takes over the role from Gary Jones, executive head chef at Le Manoir, who has led the team of judges for the last three years and crowned Steve Groves, Kuba Winkowski and Luke Selby as winners.

Paul is Chef Patron of the Paul Ainsworth Collection and has been selected by the Craft Guild of Chefs to bring new ideas to the competition. The Guild regularly changes its chair to ensure the competition grows, develops and entices the best chefs in the UK to enter.

Organiser of the competition, David Mulcahy who is Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs said: “Paul has been on the judging panel in the past and has helped us to discover some amazing winners. He has shown real integrity in his judging style and will bring a wealth of experience to what’s regarded as the UK’s biggest culinary challenge. We’ve already started working with him on the plans for the year ahead and we are excited by what he’s set to bring to the competition. Sustainability has been at the heart of The National Chef of the Year for many years but under Paul’s guidance, we are going to see this more than ever. All chefs should be ready and waiting for the brief to be revealed and to start working on their entries as it’s going to be an incredible year to enter.”

Paul Ainsworth has given a taster of how he will be putting his own spin on the competition, adding: “I am absolutely committed to this role and believe it’s important to lead from the top so my judging will be honest, firm and honourable. As head judge, I’ll be watching semi-finalists and finalists closely during the cook-offs and making sure the team of judges are working hard throughout the two hours to find the right winner. The full brief will be revealed next month but I’ll be going back to basics so that all the chefs need to think about, is making food that is truly delicious and showcases their own style, skill and flair. Whilst it’s important this competition remains current, it’s a cooking competition at the end of the day and I want the competitors to produce food that appeals to all five senses. As judges we just want to taste food that makes us say ‘wow’.”

The National Chef of the Year competition will be open for online entry next month and chefs should follow the Craft Guild of Chefs social media channels for updates using @Craft_Guild on Twitter, @CraftGuildofChefs on Instagram and through Facebook at Chefs who would like to be added to the NCOTY mailing list and be notified when entries open should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or send a message via social media.


Issued on behalf of the Craft Guild of Chefs by Digital Blonde Ltd. For more information about the event or to arrange interviews with candidates, judges or organisers please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07967 823854.

Craft Guild of Chefs
The Craft Guild of Chefs is the largest UK chefs’ association with members worldwide in foodservice and hospitality, from students and trainees to top management working everywhere from Michelin starred restaurants to school catering divisions.

About Paul Ainsworth
Southampton-born Paul Ainsworth is the successful chef and businessman behind Paul Ainsworth at No.6, Caffe Rojano, Padstow Townhouse, Mahé Cookery School and Chef’s Table, all located in Padstow, Cornwall. In 2006 Paul became head chef at Padstow’s No.6. Paul and his wife Emma took over the business in 2009 and earned the restaurant a Michelin star four years later. The restaurant has become synonymous with high-quality ingredients served simply, while incorporating playful twists. In 2011, Paul acquired Rojano’s in Padstow, a Mediterranean restaurant opened by Stanley Rojano in 1974. In a nod to Paul’s mentor Gary Rhodes, the restaurant was renamed Rojano’s in the Square in 2011, with their classic Italian dishes proving popular with guests. In 2020 Paul and Emma purchased the lease to the building and carried out a full rebrand, renaming it Caffe Rojano and implementing a fresh New York/Italian inspired menu. Padstow Townhouse opened in 2015, a six-suite guesthouse in Padstow’s Old Town, realising the couple’s dream of offering their diners somewhere to stay. 2018 saw the launch of the Paul Ainsworth Academy in partnership with Truro & Penwith College, offering hospitality students paid experience across all five of Ainsworth’s businesses. In May 2019, Paul and Emma reopened The Mariners pub in Rock, Cornwall in partnership with Sharps Brewery. 2019 also saw the launch of Mahé Cookery School and Chef’s Table, the couple’s fourth Padstow venture. With Executive Chef, John Walton at the helm, it’s named after an island in the Seychelles, Mahé takes its name from the location where Paul’s parents first met.

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