Entries have opened for the Craft Guild's National Chef of the Year 2021 competition, with chair of judges Paul Ainsworth calling for more female chefs to throw their hats in the ring.
Michelin-starred Ainsworth has also revealed this year's criteria, with entrants asked to submit a summer menu for two guests that can be created in two hours and celebrates seasonal ingredients. It must include a starter of gilt-head bream, a main of lamb using a prime and offal cut, and a dessert around strawberries and cream.
He said: "When considering the criteria for this year, I wanted to be able to excite and inspire chefs when they saw this brief, and I hope as you are reading it, your mind is already whirring with ideas.
My advice is to make the best use of your ingredients, focus on flavour and avoid waste by using by-products. Keep it local, fresh and simple. Over the next few months I am going to be on the hunt for the best chefs and I'd absolutely love to see more females entering, so please help to make this happen by encouraging all chefs to give it a go.
From the entries 40 semi-finalists will be announced on Friday 15 May. Heats will take place at Sheffield College on 15 June, and at Westminster Kingsway in London on 22 June. The 10 finalists will compete for the top prize at the Restaurant Show on 29 September.
National Chef of the Year, won last year by Steve Groves head chef of Roux at Parliament Square in London, is open to chefs who are aged 26 or older as of 29 September. Competitors may come from all areas of the hospitality business including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors and they may be working in the UK or overseas.
Hopefuls have until the 3 April to be in with a chance of winning the prize that helped accelerate the careers of esteemed chefs Alyn Williams, Gordon Ramsay and Mark Sargeant. To put in your entry click here.
Last year The Caterer investigated why so few women reach the final stages of chef competitions.