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22nd October 2021

Daniel Cornish secures Young National Chef of the Year title

Written by: Edward Waddell
The Craft Guild of Chefs announced Daniel Cornish, senior chef de partie at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, as the Young National Chef of the Year (YNCOTY) winner.

Cornish took the title by serving up an impressive menu of Scotch broth served with a spelt bread and celeriac purée, fish and chips with pickled cockles, mushy peas and a curried rouille and a pear and macadamia crumble with a set ginger custard.

Sous chef Matt Nicholls, who works at Cheal’s of Henley in Warwickshire, was announced as the runner-up with Stephen Naylor, who is junior sous chef at Restaurant Story, taking third place.

Chair of judges, Hrishikesh Desai, executive chef/food and beverage manager at Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, commented: “It’s been an absolute honour to be chair of judges for this competition. I loved designing this brief which allowed the chefs to really show us their creativity and elevate some simple British classics to a fine dining stage.

“Whilst many admitted to finding the brief challenging, all the finalists rose to the occasion and the variety of dishes we saw across the ten finalists was really inspiring for all the judges to see. There is no doubt the future of the industry is in great hands.”

At the cook-off, the finalists presented a three-course menu which centered on ‘British-themed dishes’ with a twist. It included a modern vegetarian or vegan version of a classic Scotch broth. Using inspiration from Knorr’s Future 50 ‘Beans and Pulses’ and ‘Cereals and Grains’ categories, judges were on the hunt for an innovative approach and for chefs to elevate the humble broth to a fine dining experience.

The main course gave chefs the chance to present their own take on a classic British fish and chips using a prime fillet of haddock or cod from Seafood from Norway. Finalists also had to create their own interpretation of the classic crumble using seasonal fruits for dessert.

Organiser of YNCOTY and food innovation & sustainability director for Sodexo UK and Ireland, David Mulcahy, added: “We had ten talented finalists from a variety of sectors which led to a thrilling final with a truly inspiring criteria. It is so important for these young chefs to learn about this initiative and the importance of cooking sustainably as they grow and work their way through the industry.

“Not only did the finalists all serve up creative, innovative and modern dishes but they executed them really well which is so important. It was both reassuring and inspiring for the judges to see this level of cooking coming from chefs at the earlier stages of their career.”

As well as the title of Young National Chef of the Year, Cornish will also receive a list of impressive prizes including:

  • The opportunity to grow professionally via a work development or trial session in a Michelin starred restaurant, valued at £2,500 courtesy of Knorr Professional.
  • In addition, he will promote this trial via an Instagram take-over and blog post with Knorr Professional and Unilever Food Solutions to further raise his profile.
  • The chance to join Michel Roux Jr for the culinary trip of a lifetime to Norway, in conjunction with Seafood from Norway. Over three exciting days in early 2022, they’ll celebrate the Skrei cod season at a beautiful fishing village with unrivalled local hospitality, plenty of fantastic food with fishing, hot tubs and hopefully sightings of the northern lights.
  • On their return, the winner will have the opportunity to cook a signature seafood menu at a high-level Seafood from Norway luncheon for press, chefs and industry members, co-hosted by Michel Roux Jr.
  • £500 voucher to spend within the CCS (Continental Chef Supplies) range.
  • A product prize of £250 and a framed presentation plate from Churchill, who will also be taking the winner to a European city for a gastronomic experience.
  • Courtesy of Rational, a Dick Premier Plus 11 Piece Knife Set with Roll Bag.
  • One year membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs.

YNCOTY finalists included:

  • Matt Nicholls, sous chef, Cheal's of Henley, Warwickshire
  • Daniel Cornish, senior chef de partie, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
  • Bethany Disley-Jones, junior sous pastry, The Art School Restaurant
  • Stephen Naylor, junior sous chef, Restaurant Story, London
  • Joshua Rooney, chef de partie, Paul Ainsworth at No.6, Cornwall
  • Keaton Cooper, commis chef, The Angel at Hetton, Skipton
  • Robert McCreery Breen, chef de partie, Paul Ainsworth at No.6, Cornwall
  • Sagar Massey, sous chef, Mar Hall Hotel, Gold and Spa Resort, Bishopton
  • Ieuan Andrew Davies, chef de partie, Castle Inn, Wiltshire
  • Owen Connell, chef de partie, Träkol restaurant By the River Brew Co, Hillgate Quays, Newcastle

The Young National Chef of the Year is held in partnership with Knorr Professional and supported by: Churchill; HIT Training; Norwegian Seafood; Quorn Foods; Le Cordon Bleu; the Worshipful Company of Cooks.

You can watch the screening of the senior and young chef competitions at