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The Craft Guild of Chefs names finalists for the National Chef of the Year 2012 competition
Eight chefs are celebrating after making it through to the final of the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year, the most sought after title for chefs across the UK.
Four highly competitive semi-finals held at two of the UK's top culinary training centres – one at Sheffield College and three back-to-back heats at Westminster Kingsway College – saw 40 chefs battle it out to win a place in the final. Coming from a mix of sectors, the final eight will now have to impress a panel of high profile chef judges including Angela Hartnett, Tom Kerridge, Atul Kochhar, Mark Sargeant and Philip Howard, who will scrutinise their technical skills and creativity at the Restaurant Show at London's Earls Court 2 on Tuesday, October 9, in the live cook off. Whoever takes the crown will follow in the footsteps of leading chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Simon Hulstone, Mark Sargeant, David Everitt-Matthias, and Frederick Forster who won last year's competition. The finalists are: Andrew Wright – Restaurant 23 Alyn Williams – Alyn Williams At The Westbury Joe Mccafferty – Roka Restaurant Paul Dunstane – Restaurant Associates John Howie – Sodexo Prestige Paul Matthews – Restaurant Associates Justin Galea – Turnberry Hotel Hayden Groves – BaxterStorey David Mulcahy, organiser of the competition and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: "Having had more than 120 entries in the first instance and four live cook offs, we are now a giant step closer to finding the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year 2012. Our final eight now have to knuckle down in preparation for a high profile showdown at the Restaurant Show. "If the semi-finals were anything to go by, our panel of chefs, this year led by Philip Howard as our 2012 chairman, has a real task ahead with such a high calibre of chefs making it through." Howard added: "It's a great honour for me to not only judge but also to watch winning dishes being prepared. It's fair to say that this year was a challenge to judge and the finalists are reflective of the high standards seen across the board. There has been some clear talent shining through with dishes full of both vitality and flavour as well seasonality." Since switching to the annual format in 2010, with categories covering cuisine styles across the globe, the competition has grown beyond belief. Winning the title is an outstanding achievement and the prize package up for grabs, worth in excess of £15,000, is a true reflection of that. This year's headline sponsors are: Lockhart Catering Equipment, Unilever's largest brand Knorr and Electrolux Professional. Other sponsors include Barry Callebaut, Blue Arrow Catering, Continental Chef Supplies, Churchill, Culinary Innovation, Gourmet Classic, RARE, Sheffield City College and Westminster Kingsway College.