On 3 October, 10 finalists will be pitted against each other in the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Young National Chef of the Year competition at the Restaurant Show at London’s Olympia. The finalists tell The Caterer where they hope winning the contest will take them in their careers
Job title Demi-chef de partie, Simpsons, Birmingham
Who or what inspires you? Luke Tipping, chef-director, Simpsons.
Why did you get into cooking? I grew up being creative in the kitchen with my family, but when I finished school, I chose to study biomedical science at university. While I was there, I realised that cooking for my friends and flatmates was far more exciting and important to me than my degree, so after my first year, I left and got an apprenticeship in
professional cookery at Aston Villa Football Club. I don’t think anything is more inspiring than good-quality, fresh produce, and taking each ingredient and presenting it to display its full potential is what I find most exciting.
Why are you taking part in YNCOTY? To try and push myself and move forward in my career. Just being part of the final is an honour and something I will always be truly proud of. I can barely even imagine what it would be like to win – it’s more than a dream come true. But I’m truly humbled by the fact I am in the final and just want to bring pride to myself and my restaurant
Job title Apprentice chef, the Ritz London
Who or what inspires you? The team at the Ritz London.
Why did you get into cooking? I cook to make people happy. The classic question that everyone asks a chef is ‘What’s your speciality? What do you cook the most?’ Truth be told, I make whatever the people I am cooking for love. It’s amazing the impact that cooking and sharing food can have; it’s such a social
Why are you taking part in YNCOTY? Because I was lucky enough to have been awarded Highest Achiever in the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards in 2016. This was an amazing platform for me in my career and it opened many doors – this competition is one of them. These events are fantastic for pushing chefs to be the best they can be and to constantly develop skills and knowledge. I can’t wait and am so grateful for the opportunity! Winning the final in October would mean the world to me. It would show me just how far I have come from the start of my training and my career in this wonderful industry. It would also give me a chance to make those who have helped, taught and guided me along the way proud.
Job title Commis chef, Longueville Manor, St Saviour, Jersey
Who or what inspires you? My inspiration to become a chef came from watching other chefs and getting involved in family barbecues.
Why did you get into cooking? My parents love to travel, so from a young age I have been fortunate enough to have travelled to most parts of the world. Seeing the different types of cuisine has really influenced my career choice.
Why are you taking part in YNCOTY? I want to see how much I have improved and what my capability is, as I have only been cooking professionally just under a year. Winning would mean a lot for me personally, as I think I have come a long way in such a short amount of time. Hopefully, it will open a lot of amazing doors and provide new opportunities for me as a chef.
Job title Demi-chef de partie, the Ritz London
Who or what inspires you? John Williams, executive chef at the Ritz London.
Why did you get into cooking? I grew up watching my mother and grandmother cook – it was simple food, but what struck me was the happiness it could bring to people. My fondest memories are of big family dinners.
Food unites people, and I take huge enjoyment from seeing others enjoy the food that I prepare. My parents have been so supportive of my career choice and knowing how proud they are of me has really pushed me to always try my best and to strive for excellence in what I do.
Why are you taking part in YNCOTY? I was actually blessed with a ‘wild card’ offer into the competition, for which I am hugely grateful. I’m not sure how to put into words how it made me feel! However, if I let myself think about winning, I picture calling my mum and telling her – she would just be over the moon. It would be a huge achievement, and I count myself lucky to be a part of it.
Arthur Bridgeman Quin
Job title Junior sous chef, the Punchbowl Inn, Crosthwaite, Cumbria
Who or what inspires you? The seasons and produce.
Why did you get into cooking? I’d have to say television and watching programmes like Saturday Kitchen and TV chefs such as Rick Stein and Raymond Blanc.
Why are you taking part in YNCOTY? I am excited to be part of the competition, as it will help me to learn new things and gives me an opportunity to test myself. I enjoy the process. Winning the title would be great, but I am not thinking about that at all – I just hope to enjoy myself and learn from the event.
Job title Chef de partie, L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
Who or what inspires you? Marco Pierre White.
Why did you get into cooking? I’ve always enjoyed food, and as a child I used to look forward to sitting down in the evening and having dinner as a family. Watching cookery programmes on the television also
sparked my interest. Seeing the chefs in the kitchen was exciting and I knew I wanted to be part of it.
Why are you taking part in YNCOTY? Last year I attended the Restaurant Show as a commis chef for Danny Parker in the National Chef of the Year competition, and seeing the young chefs competing made me want to be part of it. I knew it was something I had to do. Winning the Young National Chef of the Year would
mean everything – it would be an incredible competition to win. It would also be a great step on my career path to eventually owning my own restaurant, which is my long-term goal.
Job title Chef de partie, the Art School Restaurant, Liverpool
Who or what inspires you? Hearing and reading stories
about how successful chefs have got to where they are.
Why did you get into cooking? I’ve always been interested in food and drink, and have known for a long time that I wanted to work in this industry.
Why are you taking part in YNCOTY? Because it’s one of the best competitions out there for young chefs to push and challenge themselves, and be recognised in ways that will help and further our careers. YNCOTY helps with everything that being a chef is all about.
Job title Chef de partie, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, Oxford
Who or what inspires you? Chefs I’ve worked with in the past and present, eating out and reading books by great chefs.
Why did you get into cooking? I started working part-time as a kitchen porter when I was 14 years old. When I was 17, I realised I enjoyed being in the kitchen more than going to college, so I switched courses and began studying to be a chef.
Why are you taking part in YNCOTY? To meet like-minded chefs and to challenge myself, so I can improve my skills. I would love to work in some top restaurants around Europe and I think winning would help me reach that goal.
Job title Chef de partie, 21 Hospitality Group, Newcastle upon Tyne
Who or what inspires you? My mum originally inspired me to be a chef.
Why did you get into cooking? My mum cooked for me and my brother, and encouraged us to join in. I worked
as a kitchen porter, just for one or two nights after school, and sometimes, to help out, I would do the odd prep job and loved it. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realised I could be a chef. My mother pushed me to go to college and I’ve loved it ever since.
Why are you taking part in YNCOTY? After winning the Young North East Chef of the Year award, I thought doing the national competition would give me a great learning experience and be a natural progression. I’ll end the year feeling like I’ve achieved a lot and I feel this accomplishment will echo through the whole of 21 Hospitality, where I work.
Job title Sous chef, Northcote, Langho, Lancashire
Who or what inspires you? It is hard to identify one single person that inspires me, as there are so many good chefs in the UK and around the world that I can learn techniques from. Being at Northcote, I have been lucky enough to work with the chefs who take part in our Obsession festival.
Why did you get into cooking? I loved cooking from a
very young age and I always aspired to be a chef. With Northcote being so close to my home, I knew it was the ideal destination to take up an apprenticeship. The opportunity to be trained by Nigel, Lisa and all the senior chefs who have passed through Northcote’s doors was one not to be missed.
Why are you taking part in YNCOTY? Winning the North West Young Chef of the Year in 2014 gave me the opportunity to compete in the national final. I continued to enter over the past couple of years to create great networks within the industry and to put myself into a different working environment with other great young chefs and judges. As this will be my third final, and after being in the top-three positions twice, it would be a great achievement to win in 2017.