Thursday, 1st February, 2018

The search for the next National Chef of the Year gets underway

After an unforgettable 2017, with Lucas Selby taking the National Chef of the Year title, the Craft Guild of Chefs has begun its quest to find the next UK chef to take the crown.

Luke Gary and David

Widely-regarded as the most respected and prestigious culinary title, National Chef of the Year has a 46-year history of winners including Gordon Ramsay, Mark Sargeant, Simon Hulstone, Alyn Williams, Russell Bateman and latest Michelin starred recipient, Hrishikesh Desai. 

To take the sought-after title, chefs must complete an online entry form and then battle it out in one of four tough semi-finals, cooking up three courses in just two hours. Finalists must then impress some of the biggest names in the chef-world at a live final at The Restaurant Show in October.

David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of NCOTY said: “We’ve seen some of the most talented chefs join the list of winners in National Chef of the Year and last year was no exception. Lucas Selby is definitely a chef to watch having also earned the Graduate Award, Young National Chef of the Year (YNCOTY) and Roux Scholarship. But we need a new chef to follow in Luke’s footsteps and are proud to launch this year’s campaign. We’ve worked hard to put together a brief that will truly show what this competition is all about – the best produce, classic skills and seasonality. I challenge all UK chefs to push themselves out into the spotlight and enter, as whatever stage you get to, NCOTY provides opportunities that will define careers.”

The National Chef of the Year brief asks chefs to produce a creative menu for two guests. It should consist of a seasonal plant based vegetarian starter of the competitor’s choice incorporating suitable grains or pulses; a lamb main course to include two cuts and two cooking methods suitable for the summer season; and a modern approach to a classic ‘floating island’ dessert dish, to include a seasonal fruit element of the competitor’s choice.

The lamb for the main course should be sourced from the UK with competitors needing to indicate the breed of lamb and the farm it’s sourced from. Full details of the brief and an online entry form can be found at

Gary Jones, Chair of the judges and executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir, shared his inspiration behind this year’s brief: “The focus has been on two key things – showcasing our exceptional British produce and evolving chefs’ skills. I feel passionate about this brief and believe it will display the emerging talent that our UK chefs have to offer. I look forward to seeing how each individual chef interprets the brief to their own style. The written entries must entice our judges as only 40 chefs will be selected to compete in the semis and only 10 will reach the final. So keep it brilliantly simple, on point, on time and true to your own culinary flair. Get ready to impress our judges as NCOTY opens so many opportunities and I can’t wait to help judge some of the most-talented up and coming chefs in the UK.”

The competition is open to chefs who are 24 years or older on February 1st, 2018. Competitors may come from all areas of the hospitality industry including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors and may be working in the UK or overseas.

Current NCOTY, Lucas Selby encouraged chefs to enter this year: “Winning the title of National Chef of the Year has always been an ambition of mine since I took the YNCOTY crown back in 2014. Having followed the careers of previous winners, I have seen the doors this competition opens. Whilst it was the hardest competition I’ve ever done, it was absolutely worth it to hear my name called out and I would recommend the experience to all chefs.”

Luke Selby NCOTY

Chefs have until Friday, 30th March, to submit their entry and a shortlist of 40 chefs for the semi-finals will be revealed on 18th May. This year’s heats will take place at Sheffield College on Tuesday, 12th June, and at Le Cordon Bleu in London on Tuesday, 19th June. Ten chefs will go through to the National Chef of the Year final, which takes place at The Restaurant Show on Tuesday, 2nd October.

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


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 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.

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