Hunt is on for next Young National Chef of the Year
As part of the launch, the Guild has also named a new ambassador for this year, with former National Chef of the Year winner, Hrishikesh Desai, taking over the chair of judges’ role. The Craft Guild of Chefs regularly rotates the position of chair of judges for its prestigious competitions to further strengthen the chef organising team, and to add their personal imprint on the competition programme.
Once again there will be the opportunity for chefs to compete for the YNCOTY title by special invitation, having entered an equally prestigious list of qualifying competitions.
The YNCOTY represents the most talented pool of young chefs in the UK, automatically taking the winners of these four young chef competitions straight to the final at the Restaurant Show: The British Culinary Federation, The Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence, World Skills UK and The Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards.
Twenty talented young chefs will also battle it out for the final six spots, which will come from:
• South West Young Chef of the Year
• North West Young Chef of the Year
• The Junior Chef of Wales
• Young North East Chef of the Year
• UK Skills runner up
• Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards Achievers
• Chaine des Rotisseurs Young Chef
• Young Scottish Chef of the Year
Where semi-final spaces are available the Craft Guild of Chefs also accepts “wildcard” nominations for chefs who have been spotted by one of the panels of judges or who have already stood out at a competition.
YNCOTY requires talented, ambitious young chefs to focus on core skills. Chefs may incorporate current trends and techniques into dishes to embellish and enhance them but judges will be looking for a good understanding of basic skills, the foundation of cookery, simplicity, flavour and excellence in the execution of finished dishes.
For this year’s semi-final, chefs must produce a seasonal main course using 1.2kg to 1.5 kg of whole corn-fed, free range chicken, a minimum of two appropriate garnishes, out of which one must be a green vegetable, and an appropriate starch preparation; the dish should be accompanied by a suitable sauce. Judges will be paying close attention to butchery skills, wastage, perfect garnishes, correct balance and flavour.
For dessert the chefs must create a classic ‘lemon tart with a twist’ focusing on creating the perfect pastry, an excellent filling, clean flavours and showing their own personal interpretation of the brief.
Chair of judges, Hrishikesh Desai, executive chef and food and beverage manager at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, said: “I am so proud that the Craft Guild of Chefs has asked me to get involved and is trusting in me to be an ambassador for the Young National Chef of the Year. It is a huge responsibility, but I am ready for the challenge and am looking forward to working with the young chefs who make the semi-finals and final this year.
“I’ve reached a stage in my career where I can offer advice, support and expertise to young talent and the Young National Chef of the Year is one of the biggest culinary stages in the world for chefs to showcase what they have to offer. It’s an exciting time as we begin our search for the next winner.”
Henry Wadsworth, who won the title last year, added: “Winning Young National Chef of the Year came after a lot of determination, hard work and practice but it was worth it. Hearing your name called out as the winner is a moment you won’t forget and since that day it’s given me so many exciting opportunities and experiences. It’s a competition I would recommend every ambitious young chef tries to get involved with, as whatever stage you get to, you will learn from the opportunity.”
Overall organiser of the competition programmes, David Mulcahy, has added his support to this year’s organising team and focus for the programme: “I believe that as demand for young chefs to enter and stay within the industry grows, the Craft Guild of Chefs Young National Chef of the Year is more relevant than ever. The future of the hospitality and catering industry lies with the next generation and I am delighted to provide the platform to support the amazing talent of our rising stars and to ensure they receive the reward and recognition that comes from the tremendous effort involved in competing.”
The semi-finals will be held at Sheffield College on Tuesday, June 11, and at Le Cordon Bleu in London on June 18 to coincide with the National Chef of the Year semi-finals. The YNCOTY is run in partnership with Knorr and supported by Churchill, Mash, Norwegian Seafood, Quorn Foods, Lockhart Catering and WearerTech.