The Craft Guild of Chefs has announced changes to its National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) competition due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The online entry deadline has been extended to 15 June to give chefs more time to create their menus and access ingredients, from which the judges will select the highest scoring 40 chefs.
Instead of the semi-final events, shortlisted chefs will be asked to present a small signature dish of their choice via a short video. The dish should reflect their personality and tell a story that sums up the chef. This could be a memory, a style of cuisine, something that reflects their own heritage, or use their ‘hero' ingredients.
Additionally, as part of this second stage, chefs will be sent four supplementary questions to answer briefly and submit online. These questions will ask for further information on their initial three-course menu and is their opportunity to share more details on their dishes. In August, the judges will select their top 10 chefs to take through to the final.
At the Restaurant Show on 29 September at London's Olympia, the final 10 competitors will be invited to serve their original three-course menu using chair of judges Paul Ainsworth's brief. There may also be some additional ‘must use' ingredients added, which will be shared once all finalists are announced.
David Mulcahy, organiser of the competition and vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: "We want to ensure every chef has a fair opportunity to take one of the 10 places at the Restaurant Show and that the industry really has something to celebrate later this year. While many chefs aren't currently able to work, we want to help them use the coming months to learn and be inspired by other chefs, suppliers, judges and industry leaders.
"This allows them to be more ready than ever to get back to business and take their careers to the next level as soon they can. This year, NCOTY isn't just about winning a title, it's about us inspiring chefs and giving them hope, strength and positivity during the most challenging time of their careers."
Ainsworth added: "My focus on finding the most talented chefs in the UK hasn't stopped throughout this crisis and I've had many calls with David over the last few weeks to make sure we can still hold a fantastic final at the end of September. While the UK and hospitality industry faces continued uncertainty, one thing is for sure. Our industry is resilient, and chefs will come back from this; probably stronger than ever.
"People are going to enjoy eating out more than they have done after this experience and at that time we'll be ready to showcase the best chefs the UK has to offer. However, you must be in it to win it, so use this time wisely and make sure you submit the best menu you possibly can."
Entries should be completed on the NCOTY website.