The Craft Guild of Chefs has announced the finalists for this year's prestigious National Chef of the Year competition.
The eight finalists were selected from a total of 40 chefs after competing at four semi-final cook-offs held in Sheffield and London last week.
They include last year's runners-up Alyn Williams, chef-patron at Alyn Williams at the Westbury, and Hayden Groves, executive chef at BaxterStorey, as well as Joe McCafferty, sous chef at Roka Restaurant, Andrew Wright, junior sous chef at Restaurant 23, and Justin Galea, executive head chef at the Turnberry Hotel.
The remaining three finalists come from the contract catering sector: Paul Dunstane, chef, and Paul Matthews, sous chef, both from Restaurant Associates, and John Howie, group head chef at Sodexo Prestige.
The eight finalists will compete in the National Chef of the Year live final, which will take place at London's Restaurant Show on 9 October, where the judging panel will be headed up two-Michelin-starred chef-restaurateur Phil Howard and will include Mark Sargeant, Angela Hartnett, Tom Kerridge and Atul Kochhar.
David Mulcahy, organiser of the competition and vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: "Having had over 120 entries in the first instance and four live cook-offs, we are now a giant step closer to finding the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year 2012. Our final eight now have to knuckle down in preparation for a high-profile showdown at the Restaurant Show.
"If the semi-finals were anything to go by, our panel of chefs has a real task ahead with such a high-calibre of chefs making it through."
Last year's winner of the National Chef of the Year competition was Frederic Forster, one of just four chefs to have won both this and the Roux Scholarship. Other previous winners include Gordon Ramsay, David Everitt-Matthias and Simon Hulstone.
By Kerstin Kühn
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