The Craft Guild of Chefs has announced the 10 chefs who will compete to be named National Chef of the Year in October.
The chefs were selected following a series of cook-offs at Sheffield College and Le Cordon Bleu, with four heat winners and six runners-up impressing the judges.
Those that will take a place as heat winners are: Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle, Edinburgh; George Blogg from Gravetye Manor, West Sussex; Glenn Evans from Las Iguanas; and Liam Fauchard-Newman who works for Rhubarb.
They will be joined by the six chefs who received the next highest scores across all four heats. They are: Martin Frickel from the Forest Side, Cumbria; David Neilson from the Number One at the Balmoral, Edinburgh; Nick Smith from Harbour & Jones; Kuba Winkowski from the Feathered Nest Country Inn, Oxfordshire; Stefan Sewell from the Combined Services Culinary Arts Team; and Thomas Westerland from Lucknam Park, Chippenham, Wiltshire.
Gary Jones, executive chef from Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons and chair of the judges, said: “Some of the cooking has been exceptional which made it a challenge for the judges to whittle 40 chefs down to just 10. What really stood out for me was how much the finalists listened to the brief this year and focused on the sourcing of their ingredients, considered seasonality when planning their menus, as well as showcasing their creativity and innovation. It’s set to be one of our most exciting finals yet and I can’t wait to judge it in October.”
Craft Guild of Chefs vice-president David Mulcahy added: “It wasn’t an easy brief this year with a vegetarian starter thrown into the mix and a very classic dessert brought in to truly test each chef’s culinary skills. However, the semi-finalists really embraced the challenge when putting together their menus. We saw a real variety of menus and this showed the diverse range of chefs we had from all sectors of hospitality.”
The final will take place at the Restaurant Show on Tuesday 2 October with judges including Tom Kerridge, Clare Smyth, Philip Howard, Ollie Dabbous and Mark Flanagan.
At yesterday’s award ceremony, the Craft Guild also revealed the six young chefs taking the Young National Chef of the Year final spots. They are: Jamie Mackinnon from the Seafood Restaurant in St Andrews; Henry Wadsworth from Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons; Jonathan Ferguson from Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles hotel, Auchterarder; Thomas Reeves from L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria; Arron Tye from Grosvenor Pulford Hotel & Spa, Chester; and Aaron Middleton from Above at Hide restaurant, London.
These six chefs join Gilles Varone who works at Pétrus and was the Highest Achiever in the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Graduate Awards; Luke Turner from L’Enclume who won the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year; and Supatthra Viriphan who works at Chewton Glen and represents World Skills. The final place will be the winner of the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence which will be announced in July.
Young National Chef of the Year chair of judges Mark Sargeant said: “In all the years I’ve judged, I don’t think I have ever seen such enthusiasm and energy from a group of young chefs in a competition. It was incredible to see the level of food they put out in just 90 minutes. Hearing about where their ingredients had come from and their overall knowledge of sourcing and seasonality was really inspiring and the future is definitely in safe hands with so much young talent on its way through.”