The Craft Guild of Chefs has revealed the names of the eight finalists in its National Chef of the Year contest.
- Andrew Ditchfield, pastry chef, House of Commons
- Paul Foster, head chef, Mallory Court
- Adam Handling, head chef, Adam Handling at Caxton
- Mark Kempson, head chef, Kitchen W8
- Luciano Lucioli, head chef, Marks & Spencer Headquarters (Lusso - CH&Co)
- Lawrence McCarthy, sous chef, the Ledbury restaurant
- Martin Carabott, sous chef, the Royal Automobile Club
- Larry Jayasekara, sous chef, Gordon Ramsay Group
The successful chefs were selected following a cook-off at either Sheffield College on 11 June, or at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London on 24 June.
The eight finalists will now go on to compete at the National Chef of the Year final at the Restaurant Show on 6 October at Olympia in London.
They will also attend a ‘mentor day' at Knorr Kitchen in Leatherhead, Surrey, on 15 September where they will be presented with a mystery basket of ingredients to use in the final.
The competition has helped to give a boost to the careers of many of the chefs who have won it in the past, including Gordon Ramsay, David Everitt-Matthias, Mark Sargeant, Steve Love, Simon Hulstone, Hrishikesh Desai and last year's winner Russell Bateman.
David Mulcahy, vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the competition, said: "The fact that many so many chefs dedicate the time to enter National Chef of the Year year after year proves the difficulty of the competition and its importance in an ambitious chef's career. These eight chefs have demonstrated a high level of technical skill and understanding of seasonality - key elements of this year's brief. However, as in any competition, they will need to raise the bar further if they are to be successful in the final."
The judging of the finals will be chaired by Clare Smyth, chef-patron at the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
Smyth said: "This competition is tremendously stressful and a lot of effort goes into it. There's been some phenomenal cooking and some tremendously simple but delicious plates of food.
"It's great to see the same chefs coming back year after year; we are seeing people grow and that's phenomenal."