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National and Young National Chef of the Year 2016: Meet the Finalists

Posted on Tuesday 25 August 2015

With a list of previous winners that includes the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Mark Sargeant, Simon Hulstone and Hrishikesh Desai, the annual Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year award, sponsored by Lockhart Catering Equipment, is indisputably one of the most prestigious accolades that a UK chef can receive.

Since the competition’s inception in 1972, hundreds of chefs have entered each year in the hopes of claiming the title. Following the hard-fought semi-finals that took place in Sheffield and London during June, the deserving National Chef of the Year 2016 finalists have been announced.

It’s with pleasure that we can introduce the eight finalists as:

  • Andrew Ditchfield – Pastry Chef at House of Commons
  • Paul Foster – Head Chef at Mallory Court
  • Adam Handling – Head Chef at Adam Handling at Caxton
  • Mark Kempson – Head Chef at Kitchen W8
  • Luciano Lucioli – Head Chef at Marks & Spencers Headquarters (Lusso – CH&Co)
  • Lawrence McCarthy – Sous Chef at The Ledbury Restaurant
  • Martin Carabott – Sous Chef at The Royal Automobile Club
  • Larry Jayasekara – Sous Chef at Gordon Ramsay Holdings

These eight talented chefs will be battling it out for the prize at the National Chef of the Year 2016 final, which takes place on Tuesday 6th October at The Restaurant Show at London’s Olympia. This year’s brief for the contestants is to create an innovative menu for four people that places a focus on technical skills, as well as seasonality and sustainably sourced ingredients. It’s an unmissable event for all culinary fans and we cannot wait to see what the chefs create, so be sure to register for your visitor place now!

To discover more about what’s in store for the winner of the National Chef of the Year 2016 title, as well as why it’s such a significant and respected award for a chef to win, read our interview with the National Chef of the Year 2014 winner, Russell Bateman. As well as the specially designed and framed winner’s gold medal, Russell was also awarded a £1,250 Lockhart Catering Equipment voucher, and an incredible study trip to France that included dinner at the three Michelin-starred Regis et Jacques Marcon restaurant, plus a wealth of other money-can’t-buy prizes from fellow competition sponsors including Knorr and Churchill.

The Young Hopefuls

To celebrate the wealth of young culinary talent that we have in the UK, the Craft Guild of Chefs also awards one up-and-coming chef the title of Young National Chef of the Year each year alongside the main award. As the past winners of this equally venerated award have proved, what the Young National Chef of the Year contestants may lack in age they more than make up for in ability, and past finalists and winners have gone on to a wide variety of chef roles in some of the UK’s most exclusive kitchens. The five skilled chefs that have made it to the Young National Chef of the Year 2016 final are:

  • Arthur Quinn – The Punchball Inn
  • Danny Young – Northcote Manor
  • Elly Wentworth – Manor House Hotel, Castle Combe
  • Ruth Hansom – The Ritz London
  • Connor Godfrey – Wiltons Restaurant

At The Restaurant Show you will also be able to see these future star chefs compete for the title of Young National Chef of the Year 2016. It will be the second time that Ruth Hansom has battled for the title after taking the runner-up place in the 2013 competition – find out more about Ruth and why she’s ‘one to watch’ in our recent interview with her and Young National Chef of the Year 2013, April Partridge.

The Panel of Judges

Of course such an esteemed competition has an equally revered panel of judges, and chairing the panel will be Claire Smyth, chef patron at the three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.

At the semi-finals, Claire said: “This competition is tremendously stressful and a lot of effort goes into it. There's been some phenomenal cooking and some tremendously simple but delicious plates of food. It's great to see the same chefs coming back year after year, we are seeing people grow and that's phenomenal."

Good luck to all of the National Chef of the Year and Young National Chef of the Year 2016 finalists – we’ll see you at The Restaurant Show!