Craft Guild announces NCOTY semi-finalists and a surge in interest levels for 2016

Today, the world is one step closer to finding out who will be the next National Chef of the Year (NCOTY), with the announcement of the competition’s semi-finalists. The Craft Guild of Chefs has also revealed that this year saw the highest recorded level of interest in the competition ever, with 159 entries on the new National Chef of the Year website and over 400 chefs registered to view the brief.

To celebrate the impressive number of chefs who entered and registered, the Craft Guild has released some key figures from the competition so far:

National Chef of the Year in Numbers:

• 159 entry forms received from hopeful chefs
• Back in 1972, in the competition’s first year just 19 chefs entered, highlighting the dramatic rise of what is now regarded as the UK’s most prestigious culinary title
• 11 expert judges deliberated for over 20 hours each, that’s 220 hours in total, to whittle the entries down to the 40 semi-finalists
• The semi-finals will last for a total of 360 minutes, at the end of which just 10 chefs will be announced as finalists
• With the toughest skills test yet, the judges’ focus will be on three key elements, a perfect risotto, an innovative chicken dish and a stunning choux pastry dessert
• Chefs from over 500 different establishments have entered NCOTY since it began in 1972.

David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the National Chef of the Year competition, commented on the competition so far:

“As the leading culinary challenge in the UK today and recognised across the industry, the National Chef of the Year is as strong today as it was in 1972 when it was first introduced. Following the paper entry stage all judges agreed that the standard this year has improved on recent years, and I have no doubt that we are in for a tough competition. The focus on a very clear set of skills at the semi-final stage will determine who deserves to go through to the final stages where they will be able to show their own personal innovation and skills with what will be the best mystery basket yet. The National Chef of the Year continues to grow and develop and to reflect today’s fast paced and exciting industry.”

The 40 semi-finalist chefs who made the grade come from around the UK, from a variety of establishments and backgrounds. These include contract caterers, pubs and even food suppliers and colleges, as well as some of the country’s best hotels and restaurants:

Andy Wright- Restaurant 23
Robert Cox- Tudor Farmhouse Hotel
Liam McKenna- Trump International
James Devine- Deanes Eipic
Daniel Parker- House of Tides
Jack Bradley- Hipping Hall
Dion Wyn Jones- Lion and pheasant townhouse hotel
Rohan Wadke- Forth Valley College
Paul Foster- Salt
Matthew John- The Waggon Inn
Jake Jones- The Grand Hotel and Spa
Martin Carabott- The Royal Automobile Club
Thomas Westerland- Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa
Ollie Hay- Restaurant Associates
Diane Camp- Reynolds
Gavin Edney- Cliveden house
Nicholas Smith- Vacherin
Stephanie Coupland- Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
Andrew Mckee- Lough Erne Resort
Kamil Wierzbowski- Petrus Restaurant, Gordon Ramsay
Robert Taylor- Compasses inn
Jahdre Hayward- Haywards Restaurant
Sally Abe- Great British Chefs
Adam Handling- Adam Handling Restaurant Group
John Price Nomura - Restaurant Associates
Adam Thomason- Restaurant Associates
Simon McKenzie- The Old Government House Hotel and Spa
Cormac Mc Creary- The Ritz
Aidan McGee- The Truscott arms
James Buckley- Levy Restaurants @Excel london
Sarah-Jasmina Moussabih 10 Feet Tall
Luciano Lucioli Lusso - CH&Co
Ben Murphy- The Woodford
Simon Webb- Restaurant Associates
Grzegorz Olejarka-Grain Store Cafe and Bar
Philip Harrison- Anglesea Arms
Jenny Warner- The Thomas Cubitt
Neil Yule -Sodexo
Andrew Birch- Fishmore Hall Hotel
Bobby Retnakumar- Geetha Hilton Hotels UK

Chairman of Judges, Clare Smyth MBE, commented on this year’s competitors:

“What’s fantastic about this competition is not only does the number of entrants grow each year but the quality of the entries continues to rise. Having discussed the entries and menus at length with my fellow judges I know it is going to be a very tough, close and exciting semi-final. On a personal note, I’m delighted to see five female chefs make the top 40 which is the highest we’ve ever had and is something as a committee we’ve really encouraged for the last few years. I hope the chefs will grab this opportunity with both hands and ensure they are ready for it!"
Following the semi-finals, the ten highest scoring chefs will then face the ultimate challenge in the NCOTY final on the 4th October at the Restaurant Show.

Issued on behalf of the Craft Guild of Chefs by Digital Blonde Ltd. For more information about the event or to arrange interviews with winners, judges or organisers, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07836365427.
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.

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