Craft Guild of Chefs reveals new plans for National Chef of the Year
With the hospitality industry facing its most challenging time with the Coronavirus crisis the organisers of National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure this year’s competition will still go ahead.
Despite the unprecedented times, there has been so much support for NCOTY, with chefs still keen to enter, despite facing uncertainty around their daily lives. The Guild has heard stories about the online entry stage providing inspiration and hope to chefs which has made them even more determined to ensure that the competition continues this year. However, for the safety of chefs, suppliers, judges, students and supporters some changes will need to be made.
Firstly, the online entry deadline has been extended to Monday 15th June to give chefs plenty of time to create their menus and access ingredients. From the entries received at that point, the judges, including Chair of Judges, Paul Ainsworth will whittle those down to the highest scoring 40 chefs.
With so much uncertainty around the length of the national lockdown and colleges, restaurants and workplaces being closed, it won’t be possible for the usual semi-final stage to take place. This means shortlisted chefs will go through to a new secondary round where they will be asked to present a small signature dish of their choice via a short video. This dish should reflect their personality and tell a story that sums up the chef in a couple of bites. The dish may be a memory that chefs draw from, a style of cuisine or reflect their own heritage, it could be based on a family memory or include their ‘hero’ ingredients. The choice is down to each chef as the judges want to see their creativity.
Additionally, as part of this second stage, chefs will be sent four supplementary questions to answer briefly and submit online. These questions will ask for further information on their initial three course menu and it is their opportunity to share more details on their dishes. In August, the judges will select their top ten chefs, based on everything they have seen, to take through to the final.
At The Restaurant Show, the final ten competitors will be invited to serve-up their original three course menu using Paul Ainsworth’s brief. This will ensure that efforts at the entry stages are not lost and judges will have the opportunity to sample each chef’s hard work. However, there may be some additional ‘must use’ ingredients added which will be shared once all finalists are announced.
To support chefs over the coming months, the Craft Guild of Chefs will be running a series of webinars with judges, sponsors and former winners, with the aim of inspiring chefs during this time. Webinars will include advice on keeping motivated, taking good food photography, how to record videos on a mobile phone as well as how to create a standout online entry. A list of planned webinars will be added to the National Chef of the Year website, emailed to everyone registered and promoted via the Guild’s social media channels.
David Mulcahy, organiser of the competition and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs said: “We want to ensure every chef has a fair opportunity to take one of the ten places at The Restaurant Show and that the industry really has something to celebrate later this year. Whilst many chefs aren’t currently able to work, we want to help them use the coming months to learn and be inspired by other chefs, suppliers, judges and industry leaders. This allows them to be more ready than ever to get back to business and take their careers to the next level as soon they can. This year, NCOTY isn’t just about winning a title, it’s about us inspiring chefs and giving them hope, strength and positivity during the most challenging time of their careers.”
Chair of Judges, Paul Ainsworth added: “My focus on finding the most talented chefs in the UK hasn’t stopped throughout this crisis and I’ve had many calls with David over the last few weeks to make sure we can still hold a fantastic final at the end of September. Whilst the UK and hospitality industry faces continued uncertainty, one thing is for sure. Our industry is resilient, and chefs will come back from this; probably stronger than ever. People are going to enjoy eating out more than they have done after this experience and at that time we’ll be ready to showcase the best chefs the UK has to offer. However, you must be in it to win it so use this time wisely and make sure you submit the best menu you possibly can. The judges are already looking forward to tasting ten of them in the final.”
Entries should be completed on the NCOTY website at www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk. Chefs should register asap to receive the latest competition updates and list of upcoming webinars.
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.