National Chef of the Year expert entry tips revealed ahead of deadline extension

There is good news this week for any chefs still working on their National Chef of the Year entry form. The Craft Guild of Chefs has extended the entry deadline for National Chef of the Year 2017. Chefs now have until Friday 15th April to visit and submit their entry form online for judging.

To coincide with the extension announcement, the Craft Guild of Chefs has released seven expert tips from judges and past winners. David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) competition, explained further:
“We know what a challenge preparing the perfect entry can be, so along with the decision to extend the deadline we’re also releasing some valuable advice. The guidance comes straight from the National Chef of the Year Hall of Fame, with advice from several successful chefs including Alyn Williams, Mark Sargeant and the current title-holder Larry Jayasekara. We’ve distilled the expertise of these industry leaders into a series of succinct top tips on what it takes to win, starting with advice on a winning entry form. We’d advise anyone who has yet to enter to refer to the tips and really try to apply them to their own entry in order to give themselves the best possible chance of success.”

1. Read and read again
“It sounds simple but it really is so important that chefs read the brief and entry guidelines over and over again to ensure nothing has been missed” – David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the National Chef of the Year

2. Prioritise your presentation
“Take pride in your entry as it is an extension of you as a chef. It goes without saying it should be neatly formatted and the attached photos should be in focus, correct orientation and free from scattered and smeared mise en place in shot.” – Hayden Groves, Judge and 2013 National Chef of the Year

3. Showcase but don’t show off
“Keep it simple. Use the entry form to showcase your skills, knowledge and taste but avoid the temptation to show off.” – Mark Sargeant, Former National Chef of the Year and ambassador for Young National Chef of the Year

4. Write it for a plumber not a chef
“Make sure your paper entry is clean to read, well presented and makes sense. Don’t write a recipe as though another chef is reading it, write it as if a plumber is reading it and can follow it from start to finish.” - Simon Hulstone, National Chef of the Year 2008

5. A good title gets attention
“A good title for your dish will stand out and get you noticed right away. It needs to be something straightforward that gives judges an idea of the techniques and flavours they can expect from your dish.” Alyn Williams, Judge and National Chef of the Year 2012

6. Consistency is key
“Be consistent throughout the competition. All the dishes you create have to be ten out of ten if you want to win. Keep that in mind from the beginning when you’re at the entry form stage.” – Larry Jayasekara, Current 2016 National Chef of the Year

7. Put all your effort in
“Even if you are fantastic in the kitchen, it’s what’s on the entry form that will get you through to the next stage. You’ve got to put all your effort in, just as you would with cooking. We know chefs are busy people with limited time but this is a very difficult stage and dedication is required to complete the form to a high standard.” - Clare Smyth MBE, Chairman of Judges and Chef Patron at three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Enter online now:

The seven expert tips, plus more in-depth advice can all be found on the dedicated website at, where for the first time ever, chefs can enter online.

A shortlist of forty chefs for the semi-finals will be revealed on 24th May following the paper judging. This year’s heats will take place at Sheffield College on Tuesday, 14th June, and at Le Cordon Bleu in London on Wednesday, 22nd June. Only ten chefs will go through to the National Chef of the Year final, which takes place at the Restaurant Show on Tuesday, 4th October.

The National Chef of the Year competition is run in partnership with KNORR and Lockhart Catering Equipment, and is supported by Evolve, CCS, Churchill, British Premium Meats, Cacao Barry, Wild Harvest, Direct Seafood and Sous Vide Tools.


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 07876365427.

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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