Following an outstanding standard and number of entries for the National Chef of the Year, the judges have whittled entries down to just 40 semi-finalists. Throughout the day, competitors have been nervously awaiting a courier delivery with a Continental Chef Supplies (CCS) jacket and crockery gifts from Churchill. At the judging, some of the biggest names in the industry, praised the overall standard of entries describing the level as ‘exceptional’ and ‘one of the strongest set of entries’.
To enter, chefs had to design a three-course menu following a challenging brief set by Chair of Judges, Kenny Atkinson. All entries were judged anonymously with different judges scoring each course along with some looking at the overall balance of the menu.
The chefs who have made the next stage of the competition are:
- Adam Fisher, head chef, Pennyhill Park Hotel
- Alex Angelogiannis, senior sous chef, The Glenturret Restaurant by Lalique
- Arbinder Dugal, owner, Arbinder’s At Home
- Ben Boeynaems, executive chef, The Beaumont Hotel
- Charlotte Vincent, head chef, The Candlelight Inn
- Chris Loye, owner, Flavour Chocolate
- Christopher Beavis, executive chef, Royal Air Force Combined Services Culinary Arts Team
- Cleverson Cordeiro, head chef, Frog by Adam Handling
- Craig Edgell, head chef, Buoy and Oyster
- Danny Young, head chef, Port Gaverne Hotel
- Elly Wentworth, executive chef, The Holland Group/The Angel Restaurant
- Fergus Wilford, senior sous chef, Fallow Restaurant
- Grahame Wickham, head chef, Guards Polo Club
- Iain Gourlay, head chef, Cringletie House Hotel
- Jamal Bendghoughi, teaching chef, Le Cordon Bleu
- Jethro Lawrence, development chef, Apetito UK
- Jozef Rogulski, executive head chef, The Stafford London
- Kacper Walor, development chef, Bubble Food
- Karl O’Dell, head chef, The Monarch
- Kyle Bowman, development chef, Sodexo
- Lee Parsons, owner, The Parsons Table Restaurant
- Marc Billings, head chef, Prestwold Hall and Hall Barns at Prestwold
- Mark McCabe, owner, The Ethicurean
- Matthew Smith, head chef, Inver Restaurant
- Michael Bullard, head chef, Estelle Manor
- Oliver Dovey, sous chef, Coutts & Co, Baxterstorey
- Olivier Certain, head chef, The Bittescombe Inn
- Paul Leonard, head chef, Forest Side
- Richard Sharp, development chef, chefsTABLE at TRUEfoods
- Rohan Wadke, owner, Rohan’s Kitchen
- Ruth Hansom Rigby, head chef, Swinton Estate
- Ryan Gibson, sous chef, Morston Hall Hotel
- Sam Clover, head chef, The Peacock Inn
- Sergio Cinotti, head chef, Gem 42
- Simon Webb, executive head chef, Baxter Storey
- Stefan Sewell, head chef, RAF Honington
- Steven Halligan, chef patron, Restaurant Metamorphica
- Tom Bennetts, head chef, Driftwood Spars
- Vladimir Hromek, head chef, South Farm Wedding Venue
- Yiannis Mexis, head chef, Hide
These forty chefs have just a few weeks to complete the next stage of the competition which involves focusing on ‘One Humble Ingredient’. Competitors are required to create an innovative vegan signature dish suitable as an amuse bouche or small first course. Semi-finalists are also asked to share further information on their initial three course menu entry which gives them an opportunity to share details on their recipes and why they created the dish they did.
Chair, Kenny Atkinson who is chef patron at House of Tides and Solstice in Newcastle said: “Judging these entries was a difficult task, not only because of the number we received, but the standard was so strong with only a handful of marks separating a large number of chefs. The brief has really captured the attention of the industry and it’s been great to see the creative ways chefs have thought about costs and reducing waste. I’m really interested to see how the chefs interpret the next challenge focusing on a humble ingredient. Having seen so many incredible dishes I know the judges are in for a treat at the final.”
Competition director, David Mulcahy who is food innovation & sustainability director at Sodexo UK and Ireland added: “It’s been fantastic to see chefs from such a wide variety of culinary backgrounds enter this year and we’ve seen entrants from some of the most talked about establishments in the UK. The entries reflect how important this competition is for shining a spotlight on the most up and coming talent. If you’ve been given a shot at the title this year, then really go for it as we’ve already seen the incredible opportunities that winning has given our current title holder, Ben Murphy. It could literally change your life. If you’ve missed out, then please come back next year as it really was extremely close this year.”
All the semi-finalists have been invited to an exclusive event called ‘Kitchen Theory’ at the Lockhart Innovation Centre in London on Monday 17th July courtesy of CCS and Churchill. Chef, Jozef Youssef and Professor Charles Spence, Professor of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, will be taking the audience on an interactive sensory journey; investigating and showcasing the profound impact sound, shape, texture and aroma can have on taste and flavour perception.
National Chef of the Year is not only the most sought-after culinary title in the UK, but the winner will take home a host of impressive prizes including culinary experiences, equipment and trips of a lifetime.
Essential Cuisine and Lumina are the official headline partners of National Chef of the Year, with supporting sponsors Churchill, Continental Chef Supplies (CCS), Evolve Group, Hallgarten and Novum Wines and Valrhona.