Michelin-starred chef, Kenny Atkinson reveals National Chef of the Year brief to celebrate its 50-year anniversary

Who will be crowned the National Chef of the Year in the 50th anniversary of the competition? That’s going to be one of the most hotly anticipated questions in hospitality this year as the Craft Guild of Chefs celebrates half a century of the prestigious industry award. Entries have opened online, and chefs now have until 31st May to work on and submit their menus.

For this major anniversary year, Kenny Atkinson is asking competitors to produce a three- course celebration menu. The starter may be a fish, seafood or vegetarian dish worthy of this special occasion and judges will focus on the sourcing, provenance and sustainability of the ingredients used. For the main course, chefs should use British or Irish venison and incorporate more than one element whether offal, a secondary cut or prime cut. Judges will want to see how natural seasonal accompaniments are showcased within this dish. For the final course, the brief has been left wide open and is simply a warm or cold dessert for a grand finale which provides balance to the menu and has a clear wow factor. 

A focus on sustainability remains a top priority for the Craft Guild of Chefs and competitors are asked to use at least one of the ingredients on the KNORR® Future 50 Foods list. These ingredients have been identified with the support of WWF as having a positive impact on the environment, by improving the diversity of the crops we consume as well having excellent nutritional credentials. This element can be used in any of the three dishes but must be clearly detailed in the menu and ingredients list.

Chair of Judges, Kenny Atkinson who is chef patron at House of Tides in Newcastle said: “With it being the 50thanniversary of NCOTY I want the whole hospitality industry to join us in this celebration. Entering one of the UKs longest running and most prestigious competitions is an exciting prospect for any chef, so I want to see as many entries as possible. My brief gives chefs plenty to play with whether that’s digging back into the archives of culinary trends over 50 years, showing how things have evolved or celebrating hero dishes, ingredients, and chefs. It’s completely up to their interpretation but I want to see passion, creativity and culinary talent oozing out of the menus.”

Once all the entries have been received the judges will whittle them down to semi-finalists who will then be invited to the second stage which will be completed online in July. The final cook-off will take place at Le Cordon Bleu in September followed by an exclusive VIP event. This will be held to not only announce this year’s winner but to celebrate those who have been a huge part of the competition over the last 50 years including former competitors, judges, ambassadors, sponsors and the media.

Organiser of the competition, David Mulcahy who is food innovation & sustainability director at Sodexo UK and Ireland said: “For the last 50 years, we have seen so much talent cooking in the kitchens of NCOTY; with some of the biggest names in the industry judging. There has always been so much respect for this competition because we’ve adapted it for the current times whilst ensuring its heritage and credibility within the industry has remained our top priority. Chefs come back time and time again, not only because they want to win this huge title but because of how much they learn from the experience and grow. There are no barriers to entry and celebrating our rich culture and culinary heritage is done best when reflected by the diversity within the hospitality industry. Just imagine taking the title of National Chef of the Year as we celebrate such an incredible milestone.”

The winner will not only receive the most sought-after chef title in the UK, but they will take home a host of impressive prizes including culinary experiences, equipment and trips of a lifetime. 

Chefs should register to be part of the event on the National Chef of the Year website athttps://nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk. Once they have created an account, chefs can keep working on their entry over the next two months and save as they go along. To be part of the competition in 2022 they must hit submit by midnight on Tuesday, 31st May.

NCOTY would not be possible without its sponsors which for this year includes Boiron, CCS, Churchill, KNORR and Valrhona.