Sustainability at the heart of Young National Chef of the Year as Edwin takes the crown

Edwin Kuk, junior sous chef at The Art School Restaurant in Liverpool has been revealed as the new title holder of the Young National Chef of the Year in a thrilling virtual awards ceremony this afternoon. This followed yesterday’s electrifying screening of the cook-off which took place at Le Cordon Bleu earlier this month.

Edwin served up a starter of velouté of Wirral watercress and spinach with ravioli of organic Colston Basset cheese, walnut, Granny Smith apple and pickled celery. His main course was steamed loin of Norwegian cod wrapped in prawn mousse and served with beluga lentils, edamame beans, lotus root and Asian broth. A dessert of cinnamon Pain Perdu, lemon verbena yoghurt ice cream with caramelised damsons, white chocolate and pistachio completed his winning menu.

Eden Allsworth, demi chef de partie at Cliveden Hotel took the runner-up spot with Harry Paynter-Roberts, commis chef at Moor Hall Restaurant with Rooms taking third place.

The focus for this year’s competition was sustainability with the chefs having to incorporate ingredients from the Knorr Future 50 Foods list. The initiative in partnership with the WWF highlights how we are using too many of the same ingredients and our planet can’t keep up. Not only is the Future 50 Foods list designed to highlight ingredients that will help deliver a sustainable future, but these ingredients have also been chosen for their positive nutritional credentials.

Chair of judges, Hrishikesh Desai, executive chef at The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House in Windermere said: “These finalists are the upcoming stars of our industry and we wanted them to be the catalyst for change and inspire their colleagues and peers. By taking the Future 50 Foods ingredients you can create responsibly sourced and biodiverse dishes for the future. Ensuring that this competition could still go ahead has been an important project for me over the last few months as I know giving positivity, hope and focus to chefs is more important than ever. We had to tweak how we selected the finalists, but we invited a strong group of chefs who have already had success in other competitions; this led to an incredible final. On the day, Edwin’s dishes wowed all the judges and he was a very strong winner. He really understood how to create a balanced three course meal which was absolutely packed with flavours.”

Knorr® Professional is the headline partner of Young National Chef of the Year and Alex Hall, executive chef UK & Ireland added: “It’s been inspiring to see how these young chefs have risen to the challenge set out by Hrishikesh and created delicious, sustainable dishes. At the YNCOTY mentor meeting last month, we talked about this initiative and how these chefs could lead the way in making real change. By switching overused and over-cultivated ingredients for more biodiverse alternatives, chefs can begin to influence the way consumers eat and how future generations of chefs cook, for a better food future.”

Organiser of YNCOTY and Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs, David Mulcahy said: “This was the most diverse group of chefs we’ve ever had in this competition and that made for an extremely interesting final with all chefs bringing their own style and experiences to the table. These chefs had to overcome the toughest challenges and restrictions to compete in this event, but all remained enthusiastic, well-prepared and determined to impress the judges. As we invite people to compete in this event, the Craft Guild of Chefs is always on the lookout for the next big name to join the list of winners. All the finalists have bright futures ahead of them and we can’t wait to see where this experience takes them next.”

As well as the title of Young National Chef of the Year 2021, Edwin wins the opportunity to grow professionally via a work development or trial session in a Michelin starred restaurant, courtesy of Knorr® Professional. He will also join Michel Roux Jr for the culinary trip of a lifetime to Norway, in conjunction with Seafood from Norway. Edwin will have the opportunity to cook a signature seafood menu at a high-level Seafood from Norway luncheon for press, chefs and industry members, co-hosted by Michel Roux Jr. Edwin will also receive a £500 voucher to spend within the CCS range. As well as a product prize of £250 and a framed presentation plate, Churchill will be taking him to a European city for a gastronomic experience trip. A bespoke knife will also be made thanks to Savernake Knives.

Young National Chef of the Year is run in partnership with Knorr® Professional in association with CCS, Churchill, Seafoods From Norway and Quorn. It was hosted at Le Cordon Bleu London and featured as part of Hospitality Week.