What’s on the menu for YNCOTY finalists this year?
This year’s brief has been planned by chair of judges, Hrishikesh Desai and founder of the competition, David Mulcahy, and sustainability has been put at the heart of the brief after Hrishkesh found himself inspired by the Knorr Professional Future 50 Foods campaign.
This initiative focuses on 50 of the foods we should eat more of to promote a more sustainable global food system. Ingredients have been selected based on their taste, nutritional value and low environmental impact. They include lesser-known varieties of grains, tubers, beans, sprouts, root vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, seeds and beans.
For the September final, YNCOTY competitors are allowed two hours to produce two plated portions of a three-course meal. The starter course will be an innovative vegetarian velouté with freshly prepared ravioli, suitably garnished as a light autumnal dish. This dish must include one or more of the following Future 50 foods - walnuts, sesame seeds, watercress, broccoli rabe and heirloom carrots.
This year the main course is an Asian-inspired dish of the competitor’s choice using a fillet of Norwegian haddock or cod. The dish should be accompanied with a light sauce to finish it and must include one or more of the following Future 50 foods - cowpeas (black eyed peas), split yellow lentils, wild rice, sweet potato, pak choi, enoki mushrooms, saffron milk cap mushrooms and wakame seaweed.
For the dessert course, the judges are looking for a seasonal stone fruit and Pain Perdu. Judges will be looking for a modern interpretation of this classic bread and butter pudding dish.
Alex Hall, executive chef UK & Ireland for Unilever said: “Knorr Professional is once again proud to be the headline sponsor of the Young National Chef of the Year competition. At a time when our industry faces a challenge unlike any we have seen or experienced, it’s heartening to see the passion and enthusiasm that these young chefs show for their craft.
“What’s more, with the YNCOTY criteria this year shining a spotlight on issues of sustainability and promoting biodiversity, we’re delighted to be able to help educate the chefs of tomorrow on our Knorr Professional Future 50 campaign. In partnership with the WWF, the Knorr Professional Future 50 campaign will promote a more sustainable food future using diverse, varied ingredients – and it’s exciting to see this competition, and the young chefs who are part of it, leading the way on this.”
David Mulcahy, Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs added: “It’s no surprise that Hrishikesh has created a truly exciting and relevant brief for these young chefs to get their teeth into. I believe that sustainability has never been more important, and the Future 50 Foods campaign will be brought to the forefront by these ten talented chefs who have been leading the way in young culinary talent over the last year.
“I’m also particularly inspired by the Asian infusion brief for the main course as this will really allow the chefs to show us their creativity and own personal styles. I’m confident the judges will have some delicious dishes to taste.”
The ten finalists are Nathan Lane, Charlie Crote, Ieuan Andrew Davies, Dervis Mustafa, Jamaar Semper-House, Harry Paynter-Roberts, Rebecca Mary Jackson, Eden Allsworth, Sagar Massey and Jacob Gosselin.
The cook-off will take place on Monday 7th September 2020 at Le Cordon Bleu, but the final will be aired as part of Hospitality Week on Tuesday 29th September. You will be able to find out the winner on Wednesday 30th September with a live online announcement following the coverage of the National Chef of the Year competition.