Just four months after crowning James Devine as National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) 2017, the search to find the next champion is now underway, with Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons executive head chef Gary Jones revealed as the new chair of judges, taking over from Clare Smyth MBE.
To enter, chefs have until 31 March to submit a menu for two guests to be served within two hours. The menu must consist of a vegetarian-based starter, a duck and cherry combination main course, and a classic tart as a dessert. Competitors will put their own interpretation on each dish with a strong focus on seasonality and sustainable sourcing of ingredients.
Previous winners include Gordon Ramsay, Mark Sargeant and Simon Hulstone, Hrishikesh Desai.
The competition is open to chefs who are 24 years or older on 1 February 2017 and working in any area of the hospitality business including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors, and may be working in the UK or overseas.
A shortlist of 40 chefs for the semi-finals will be revealed on 19 May. This year's heats will take place at Sheffield College on 6 June and at Le Cordon Bleu in London on 20 June. 10 chefs will go through to the National Chef of the Year final at the Restaurant Show on 3 October.
Full details of the brief and an online entry form can be found at www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk.
David Mulcahy, vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of NCOTY, said: "Gary has been involved with the competition for many years and we are thrilled that he is overseeing the judging panel. This competition moves up a gear every single year and with Gary at the helm we are confident this will continue. The NCOTY committee has created an interesting brief for the online entry stage and we're looking forward to seeing how different chefs interpret it. Whatever stage you get to in this competition, you will learn from the experience and take away new ideas that will help you develop as a chef."
Jones added: "I am delighted to be the chair of judges for NCOTY. It's a competition that has been won by so many talented chefs, has an incredible panel of judges, and receives fantastic support from media, sponsors and partners. I'll be working with the Craft Guild of Chefs to find new and exciting ways to drive this event forward, whilst ensuring that culinary skills continue to evolve in the UK. It's this focus on skill which makes the NCOTY title so credible, and one that so many chefs across the UK aspire to win."
After taking the title in 2016, Devine said: "I was encouraged to enter NCOTY by my employers and having seen the record of winners, I knew that I wanted my name on it next. As soon as the entry process started I threw myself into the competition and used every spare minute I had to ensure that my name was called out as the winner last October. When you look at the calibre of judges at each stage, you know you've truly earned your place on that list. I'd recommend all chefs give themselves the opportunity to be part of this competition and enter."
NCOTY is run in partnership with Knorr, Lockhart Catering Equipment and SousVide Tools. It is supported by British Premium Meats, Cacao Barry, CCS, Churchill, Direct Seafoods, Evolve, Mash, OpenTable and Ritter Courivaud.
Craft Guild of Chefs launches search for 2017 National Chef of the Year >>