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7th August 2020

Craft Guild of Chefs names ten finalists for NCOTY

Written by: Edward Waddell
The Craft Guild of Chefs has not let Covid-19 stop them from finding ten talented chefs to make the National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) final.

The ten chefs will now compete for the 2021 NCOTY crown in a cook-off at Le Cordon Bleu in September.

David Mulcahy, organiser of the competition, said: “There is no doubt that finding a way to make sure the National Chef of the Year competition could still go ahead has been challenging. But as organisers, we have always remained determined to ensure the competition’s heritage could be maintained and that the industry had a positive success story to come out of this.

“Chefs have faced some real battles along the way, even to put an entry in, but we have seen huge resilience, determination and passion from these chefs to turn adversity into positivity. Whilst we have had to tweak how the final is run, many things remain the same.

“We have ten brilliant chefs cooking for the best judges in the industry and what a special winner they are going to find. I really hope that on the 30th September, chefs in kitchens across the UK tune in to support the competitors and watch the final and the live announcement.

“There has never been a more important time for the industry to come together in this way and show everyone how much talent our culinary scene has to offer.”

The ten chefs making the final include:

  • Derek Johnstone, head chef, Borthwick Castle, East Lothian
  • Fraser Bruce, head chef, Fraser Bruce, The Fish Shed, St Ives
  • Nathan Cornwell, head chef, The Barn at Moor Hall, Ormskirk
  • Sarah-Jasmina Moussabih, head chef, Finnish Embassy, London
  • Marcin Pomierny, head chef, The Maids Head Hotel Limited, Norwich
  • April Lily Partridge, chef, The Ledbury, London
  • Nick Smith, head chef, Vacherin / Ashurst, London
  • Dominic South, head chef, Corinthia Hotel, London
  • Ben Drake, senior sous chef, The Elephant by Simon Hulstone, Torquay
  • Thomas Swaby, senior sous chef, Roux At Parliament Square, London

The semi-final cook-offs were unable to take place this year so the finalists were selected based on their entry stage and dishes which ‘summed them up in just two or three bites’.

The final decision on who went through was made by chair of judges Paul Ainsworth and organiser of the competition Mulcahy. The actual cook-off will take place on 7 September 2020 at Le Cordon Bleu and the winner will be revealed on 30 September 2020.

Ainsworth, chef patron at Paul Ainsworth Collection added: “My decision to ask the chefs to create a dish that summed them up in just a few simple bites was to help me learn more about the chefs and their style of cooking.

“I wanted to see great plates of food that showed skill, creativity and innovation but also each chef’s passion and determination to take the top spot. This additional round gave us so much insight and inspiration to help us find that all important top ten.

“I’m confident we have an amazing line-up of finalists from some incredible establishments and businesses. I can’t wait to taste the dishes in a few weeks’ time as ultimately that’s what this competition is all about.”

Make sure you are supporting the chefs in the final by joining the Craft Guild of Chefs for the live streaming at 1pm on Wednesday 30th September followed by the big reveal of the winner at 2.30pm.

Look out for updates on and the Craft Guild of Chefs social media channels.