Despite the challenging situation the world has found itself in, the Craft Guild of Chefs has confirmed that its National Chef of the Year competition will still go ahead this year as it reveals who has made it through to the next stage. Changes were made to the online entry process so that chefs had the opportunity to design menus, cook dishes and take photography during lockdown.

As the semi-final stage won’t be able to take place in the usual way, 40 chefs have been selected to go through to the second stage. Chair of judges, Paul Ainsworth has tasked the competitors with creating a dish that sums them up in just a few bites. They will then create a short video showcasing that dish and answer four supplementary questions. Judges will then whittle the chefs down to a final ten, who will cook up their original menu in the final.

The news on whether a chef has made the second stage has been revealed in a new and exciting way this year. Throughout the day today, personalised CCS (Continental Chef Supplies) chef jackets have been arriving in the homes or workplaces of all 40 chefs with a note asking them to share the news online as their gift arrives. Churchill has also sent dishes as a congratulations gift and all the china can be used in the next stage of the competition. You can see the pictures of the finalists proudly wearing their customised chef jackets by searching #NCOTY on Twitter and Instagram.

The chefs invited to compete in the next stage are:

  • Mark Austin, executive chef, Northwood HQ, Aramark
  • Andy Bowler, sous chef, Petrus
  • Fraser Bruce, head chef, Fraser Bruce @ The Fish Shed
  • Nathan Cornwell, head chef, The Barn at Moor Hall
  • Paul Croasdale , head chef, Stargazzy Inn
  • David Davey-Smith, SNCO Chef, Royal Air Force
  • Tristan Downes, head chef, Craft London
  • Ben Drake, senior sous chef, The Elephant by Simon Hulstone
  • Nico Fitzgerald , head chef, London Stock
  • Alex Greene, sous chef, Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa
  • Daniel Griffiths, sous chef, Portmeirion Hotel
  • Elliot Hill, head chef, Panoramic 34
  • Asen Ibrov, head chef, Silver Spoon
  • Matthew John, chef patron, The Waggon Inn
  • Derek Johnstone, head chef, Borthwick Castle
  • Daniel Jones, head chef, JT3
  • Martin Lee, head chef, Hartwell House Hotel
  • Rob Marshall, freelance chef
  • Caroline Martins, chef patron, Sao Paulo Group Ltd
  • David Millar, head chef, CH&CO
  • Graham Mitchell, head chef, The Newmachar Hotel
  • Sarah-Jasmina Moussabih, head chef, Finnish Embassy, London
  • Saurav Nath, development chef, JKS Restaurants
  • Christopher Niven, executive chef
  • Andonis Paraskevas, chef/consultant
  • April Lily Partridge, chef, The Ledbury
  • Elisabeth Passedat, head chef, The Cleveland Arms
  • Marcin Pomierny, head chef, The Maids Head Hotel Limited
  • Matt Ramsdale         , head chef, The Chester Grosvenor
  • Stefan Sewell, team captain, Combined Service Culinary Arts Team
  • Christos Siomadis, executive chef, Roseate House Hotel London
  • Nick Smith, head chef, Vacherin / Ashurst
  • Dominic South, head chef, Corinthia Hotel
  • Lewis Spencer, sous chef, Davies and Brook
  • Thomas Swaby, senior sous chef, Roux at Parliament Square
  • Nat Tallents, executive chef, Fosters @ The Box Plymouth
  • Simon Webb, freelance chef
  • Fergus Wilford, sous chef, Corinthia Hotel
  • Danny Young, senior sous chef, Northcote
  • Tim Zekki, chef proprietor, Duende

From this list, ten finalists will be selected to compete in a cook-off at Le Cordon Bleu on Monday 7th September. This will be filmed and played out as part of the new Hospitality Week with the winner being revealed live on Wednesday, 30th September, 2020.

Reflecting back on the last few months, Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser, David Mulcahy said: “Back in March, we had to make the difficult decision of whether to continue with the competition this year or postpone it. We spoke with our chair of judges, sponsors and other organisers and listened to the views of chefs who were contacting us via social media and email. There was a real appetite for the competition to continue as it gave chefs hope and positivity during such a challenging time. The level of entry we have received this year is incredible and whoever wins in these circumstances is going to be a truly special person. This year’s winner will have turned adversity into positivity and when asked what they did during the coronavirus crisis will be able to say they won the National Chef of the Year title. Thank you to all our sponsors and everyone who entered as you have helped ensure this culinary competition continues to lead the way in the UK and maintain its 48-year history.”

Chair of judges and Michelin starred restaurateur, Paul Ainsworth added: “This is my first year judging the first stage of NCOTY and many chefs were on the money in hitting the brief they were set. Seeing the huge variety of ways the entrants put their own interpretation on this task was inspiring and there are going to be some amazing dishes served up to us in September. I am already looking forward to watching the videos in the next round and seeing how chefs sum themselves up in just a few tasty bites. Be yourself, cook from the heart and be proud of what you have achieved to get to this stage.”

The National Chef of the Year competition is run in partnership with Knorr Professional and is supported by Boiron Freres, CCS, Churchill, Direct Seafood, Evolve Recruitment, HIT Training, OpenTable, Santa Maria, UNOX, Valrhona, Wearertech and Winterhalter             


Issued on behalf of the Craft Guild of Chefs by Digital Blonde Ltd. For more information about the event or to arrange interviews with candidates, judges or organisers please contact or call 07967 823854.

Craft Guild of Chefs

The Craft Guild of Chefs is the largest UK chefs’ association with members worldwide in foodservice and hospitality, from students and trainees to top management working everywhere from Michelin starred restaurants to school catering divisions.