Craft Guild announces 40 National Chef of the Year semi-finalists
With many new faces entering this year, the candidates gave the expert panel of judges a difficult task.
Overseen by Gary Jones, executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir as Chair of judges, David Mulcahy, Alyn Williams, Peter Joyner, Andrew Bennett, Russell Bateman, Phil Howard, Steve Scuffell, Sarah Hartnett, Gary Hunter and Willie Pike whittled the impressive list down to 40.
At this stage, all judges scores are based on an online entry including descriptions of dishes, cooking method and photographs of the completed menus. Chef names and workplaces are removed for the judging process, so judges are purely scoring on the dishes submitted.
The competition was open to chefs over the age of 24 as of February 1st, 2018. Competitors come from all areas of the hospitality business including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors.
The Sheffield semi-final will take place on the morning of 12J une and will include:
- Aled Williams, head of development and innovation, TRUEfoods
- Daniel McGeorge, head chef, Rothay Manor Hotel
- David Neilson, senior chef de partie, Number One at the Balmoral
- Derek Johnstone, head chef, Borthwick Castle
- Josh Adams, development chef, Sousvide Tools
- Kacper Walor, sous chef, Ladhar Leisure/ Pleased To Meet You
- Martin Frickel, senior sous chef, The Forestside
- Matt Worswick, head chef, Matt Worswick at The Latymer
- Matthew Ramsdale, sous chef, The Chester Grosvenor
- Zoltan Szabo, executive chef, Blythswood Square Hotel Glasgow
Three heats will be completed at Le Cordon Bleu in London on 19June and these will include:
- Adam Thomason, executive chef, Restaurant Associates at Deloitte
- Andonis Paraskeva, executive head chef, Lusso Catering CH&Co
- George Blog, head chef, Gravetye Manor
- James Cousins , senior sous chef, Restaurant Associates at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
- Kuba Winkowski, head chef, The Feathered Nest Inn
- Marcin Pomierny, head chef, The Maids Head Hotel
- Nick Smith, head chef, Harbour&Jones / Ashurst
- Sam Bowser, head chef, Dormy House
- Sarah-Jasmina Moussabih, head chef, Nordic Catering
- Virginia Ramiro Mendez, sous chef, Vacherin/Royal Bank of Canada
- Aaron Ashmore, head chef, Clarette - Chateaux Margaux
- Daniel Jones, head chef, JT at 3 Main Street, Fishguard
- Glenn Evans, head of food, Las Iguanas
- Jamie Park, head chef, The Frog E1
- Joseph Fallowfield, sous chef, The Elephant
- Jozef Rogulski, executive head chef, The Stafford Hotel London
- Luciano Lucioli, head chef, Private Chef
- Paul O'Neill, head chef, Cliveden House Hotel
- Stefan Sewell, defence chef instructor, CSCAT
- Thomas Westerland, head chef, Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa
- Daniel Tilinger, sous chef, Social Wine and Tapas
- David Davey-Smith, chef instructor, Royal Air Force
- Fraser Bruce, head chef, The Tate Gallery St Ives
- Garreth Wilson, head chef, Titanic Belfast
- Liam Fauchard-Newman, senior sous chef, Rhubarb / Fenchurch
- Martin Kilbey, executive head chef, Sodexo
- Nat Tallents, executive chef, Lewinnick Lodge & The Plume of Feathers
- Sam Astley-Dean, sous chef, Elystan street
- Stefano Leone, executive head chef, D&D London / Royal Exchange Grand Cafe & Sauterelle
- Terry O'Riordan, executive chef, Compass group UK & Ireland
The winner of each heat will automatically be seeded into the final which takes place on 2October at The Restaurant Show. It will then be down to the highest scores across all four heats to discover which six chefs will complete the line-up.
Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and NCOTY organiser, David Mulcahy, commented: “I am delighted with the quality of entries for this year’s National Chef of the Year. The task set focused on key skills, provenance of produce and a modern interpretation to classic dishes. We have seen some exciting innovation and creativity from the entries. It is encouraging to see many new faces entering this year and with a diverse selection of chefs from all sectors we are in for a great series of semi-finals.”
Gary Jones, Chair of National Chef of the Year judges, added: “When we set the brief we wanted the focus to be on two key things – showcasing our exceptional British produce and evolving chefs’ skills. What we’ve witnessed in the judging process is that the chefs have stepped up to the mark with creative and innovative ideas. There’s only ten places up for grabs in this final and we’ve got some seriously talented chefs in the running. Over the coming weeks I expect these 40 chefs to put the work in and be ready to impress the judges in Sheffield and London. Only the best will make it.”
Andrew Bennett, new Chair of the Craft Guild of Chefs was taking on one of his first tasks in his new role. He commented: “The National Chef of the Year continues to go from strength to strength and having judged this competition over many years, it is amazing to observe how it has transformed with the times. As the new Chair of the Guild, I’ve been able to view the competition in a different light. It’s a key element of what the Guild do so well.”
Those who get through to the top ten will have the opportunity to cook for some of the biggest chef names in the UK with many judges for the final already lined-up. This includes Clare Smyth, Tom Kerridge, Philip Howard, Ollie Dabbous and Mark Flanagan.
The National Chef of the Year is organised in partnership with Bunzl Lockhart and KNORR and supported by Evolve, Ritter Courivaud, UNOX, CCS, Churchill, British Premium Meats, Mash, Santa Maria, Electrolux, Sousvide Tools and Direct Seafood.