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Paul Ainsworth, chair of judges for the Craft Guild National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) competition, revealed the brief for the upcoming competition.

The judges want to learn about each chef and capture the essence of what the last year has meant for them through their menus. Each course has its own theme taking into account a different element of what every chef has experienced.

This year NCOTY is challenging entrants to create a menu that tells their story of the 2020 pandemic through food. To enter this year's NCOTY competition, visit: From all the entries received by Monday 31st May, the judges will whittle them down to just 40 chefs who will then be invited to the second stage.

Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs David Mulcahy said: “Whilst the NCOTY competition’s focus is very much about moving forward, this year’s brief encourages chefs to reflect on the last year and tell their own personal story through food.

“There is no doubt the Covid-19 pandemic will be remembered in history for generations to come and we want to capture those memories via three delicious dishes.”

The three-course menu must include:

  • Starter - To produce a vegetarian starter dish for two guests focusing on the Future50 ingredients incorporating fresh seasonal produce.
  • Main Course: Your interpretation of a main course dish for two guests as a Land & Sea dish. Any cut and any species of meat or fish sourced from the UK&I, fully garnished and individually plated.
  • Dessert: Celebrating the Great British Pudding. Your twist on an individually plated dessert for two guests served warm or cold.

Chefs who make it through will be asked to create a further dish in a bid to battle for one of just ten sought-after places in the final. The final will take place in London in September with the chefs being part of a documentary.

Chair of judges Paul Ainsworth said: “When looking at the competition this year, we discussed the highs of the 2020 event and explored which elements we could keep and develop to ensure NCOTY stays relevant and exciting. This year the brief gives chefs more freedom than ever to create a menu that is personal to them, to their love of food and their style of cooking.

“I’m a huge believer in telling a story through food and can’t wait to see the creativity on display as these menus come in and learning about the chefs’ personalities through their food. The winning menu is one I want to see go down in history as a true reflection of the part food has played in the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The winner will not only the trophy but they will take home a host of impressive prizes including culinary experiences, equipment and trips of a lifetime.

To watch the full NCOTY webinar, visit here.

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