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13th August 2021

Twelve chefs revealed as National Chef of the Year finalists

Written by: Edward Waddell
During an Instagram Live on the Craft Guild of Chefs channel, renowned chefs Paul Ainsworth and David Mulcahy revealed this year’s National Chef of the Year finalists.

Whittled down from 33 to just 12, the finalists now go on to cook at CORD by Le Cordon Bleu. The final will be aired at a VIP red-carpet premiere at the Everyman Broadgate cinema on 21st October.

The 12 NCOTY finalists include:

  • Marc Billings, head chef, Prestwold Hall and Hall Barns at Prestwold, Leicestershire
  • Ben Boeynaems, executive chef, The Beaumont Hotel, London
  • Ross Brown, chef de partie, BaxterStorey, London
  • Iain Gourlay, head chef, Cringletie House Hotel, Scottish Borders
  • Elliot Hill, head chef, Panoramic 34, Liverpool
  • Christopher Niven, executive chef, Marine North Berwick, East Lothian
  • Russell Plowman, senior sous chef, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Perthshire
  • Stefan Sewell, head chef, RAF, Suffolk
  • Jack Shaw, head chef, Lexington Catering/ Savills, London
  • Adam Smith, sous chef, Gravetye Manor, Sussex
  • Thomas Swaby, head chef, Inverlochy Castle, Fort William
  • Gary Townsend, head chef, 1 Devonshire Gardens, Glasgow

The chefs will serve up their original menus from the entry stage which allowed each chef to tell their story of the pandemic through food. Menus will include a vegetarian starter incorporating ingredients on the KNORR Future 50 Foods list.

The main course focuses on supporting British suppliers on land and at sea with a dish incorporating both meat and fish, whilst desserts should reflect the start of the pandemic, when ingredients were sparse, and households turned to baking for comfort.

Chair of judges Paul Ainsworth said: “What a final we’ve got ahead of us with this incredible top twelve! There have been some truly creative and delicious looking dishes demonstrated in the first two stages of the competition and we can’t wait to taste them in the next round.

“This is the UK’s toughest culinary competition and any chef who puts themself forward in these challenging times deserves the utmost respect and recognition. I’m so honoured to support these twelve chefs as the chair of judges and can’t wait to find the next winner. That chef is certain to go down in history with their winning menu reflecting the toughest times our industry has ever faced.”

Finalists will enjoy a mentor experience at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on the 8th September where they will come together with Young National Chef of the Year finalists for a full day of ‘culinary inspiration’.

Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and food innovation & sustainability director, Sodexo UK and Ireland, David Mulcahy commented: “It’s been another challenging year for the competition. We’ve had to tweak and adapt it to make it happen, but we’ve never lost sight of the vision, heritage and importance of this competition in our industry.

“It’s given chefs hope and focus when they really needed it and now we have something wonderful to celebrate over the coming weeks. It was such a dynamic group of chefs that entered this year, our judges really struggled to get it down to just ten, so after much deliberation we agreed to take twelve chefs through to the final.

“We hope the whole industry will be watching the live stream of the final as the next National Chef of the Year is crowned. I can’t wait to discover which of these talented, determined and resilient chefs that will be.”

The industry can support the chefs in the final by joining the Craft Guild of Chefs for the live streaming on Thursday, 21st October, 2021. Look out for updates on and the Craft Guild of Chefs social media channels.

NCOTY is run in partnership with KNORR and supported by CCS, Churchill, Rational UK and Le Cordon Bleu.