After four intensive heats, the Craft Guild of Chefs has named the 10 chefs who will battle for The National Chef of the Year title at The Restaurant Show in October. The names have been revealed after four tough heats involving 41 chef competitors and 20 judges.
Young National Chef of the Year 2013 winner and sous chef at L’Enclume, Ben Champkin (pictured) was announced as the first chef to make the NCOTY finals when he won the first heat in Sheffield.
David Davey-Smith, chef, from Royal Air Force Worthy Down won heat two which took place at Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London today. Winning the third heat was Karl O’Dell, senior sous chef from Petrus – Gordon Ramsay. The final heat was won by Thomas Westerland, sous chef from Lucknam Park.
Joining those four chefs in the semi-final are six runners-up who scored the highest points across all four heats. These are Dean Westcar, head chef at Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park, Luke Selby, head chef at Dabbous, Simon Webb, head chef at Restaurant Associates, Kuba Winkowski, head chef at The Feathered Nest Inn, Will Holland, head chef at Coast Restaurant and Adam Thomason, head chef at Restaurant Associates – Deloitte.
Chair of judges for NCOTY and executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Gary Jones, said: “Chefs should not underestimate what they have all achieved here today. This is the very best cooking competition in the UK and to be selected to be part of the semi-final is an honour. The energy, commitment and quality has been impressive from all our competitors and those that have reached the final really are at the top of their game. One thing we have worked hard to push as a competition is avoiding wastage and it’s something we’ve noticed that the chefs have focused on both at the paper entry stage and semi-finals. I would urge those that did not get through to use the experience as a positive and come back even stronger next year.”
David Mulcahy, Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the competition added: “What has been interesting this year is hearing the stories behind the menu creation, ingredient sourcing and inspiration for the dishes. The relationship between the chefs and what and why they produced each dish has really stood out for me this year. For example, we’ve noticed the difference in dishes coming from different areas of the country showing the importance of sourcing and seasonality. There has been so much positivity around this year’s brief of vegetarian starter, duck and cherry main course and classic tart and the chefs have truly risen to this challenge.”
As well as competing in The National Chef of the Year final, the chefs will also attend a Mentor Day on September 5 where they will be presented with a mystery basket of ingredients to be used in the final.
In addition to the NCOTY announcement, the young chefs going forward to The Young National Chef of the Year final were also revealed. Heat winners Danny Young from Northcote and Henry Wadsworth from Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons are to be joined by the five highest scoring young chefs from both the London and Sheffield heats. These were named as Arthur Bridgeman Quin from The Punchbowl Inn, Daniela Tucci from The Art School Restaurant, Thomas Reeves from L’Enclume, Alex Walker from 21 Hospitality Group and Jacob Gosselin from Highlands Academy of Culinary Arts. They join Amber Francis, Highest Achiever in the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Graduate Awards who is apprentice chef at The Ritz and Frances Attwood from Simpsons Restaurant who won the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year. The final place will be the winner of the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards of Excellence which will be announced in July.
You can find out more about the competition and follow the progress on Twitter with @Craft_Guild and #NCOTY and on the website at www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk.0