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Ten will become one at the National Chef of the Year final

Posted on Thursday 13 September 2018

Take ten of the UK’s most talented chefs and mix with some of the best produce in the UK. With this combination, in the coming weeks, we’re going to discover a menu that will impress some of the biggest names in the world of hospitality. Yesterday, the Craft Guild of Chefs brought together its ten finalists, some of its former winners, judges and sponsors for The National Chef of the Year mentor day. As headline sponsors of the UK’s most prestigious culinary title we were delighted to have the opportunity to meet the finalists and get to know them all a little a better. You could see the anticipation and excitement in the room as what’s seen as the official countdown to the final got underway.

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Above: The Famous Shot

Here’s a reminder of the line-up of talented chefs who are in the running to take this sought-after title:

• Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle, Edinburgh
• George Blogg from Gravetye Manor, West Sussex
• Glenn Evans from Las Iguanas
• Liam Fauchard-Newman who works for Rhubarb
• Martin Frickel from The Forest Side, Cumbria
• David Neilson from Number One at the Balmoral, Edinburgh
• Nick Smith from Harbour & Jones
• Kuba Winkowski from The Feathered Nest Country Inn, Oxfordshire
• Stefan Sewell from the Combined Services Culinary Arts Team
• Thomas Westerland from Lucknam Park, Chippenham, Wiltshire

The mentor day began with a fascinating panel discussion chaired by OpenTable about the brand of a chef and how they get their own story seen and heard. Former winners, Freddy Forster, Hayden Groves, Hrishikesh Desai and Young National Chef of the Year winner, Ruth Hansom shared their experience with further advice for finalists being given by Ed Vokes from Evolve Hospitality and Karen Fewell from Digital Blonde. Each former winner then went on to share their top tips for the finalists, giving them advice and words of wisdom that would make the whole experience even more memorable.

Above: The Famous Staircase

Time to get in the spotlight

Following this interesting discussion, it was time for the famous group photos of the finalists which are always beautifully taken by the team from Hospitality Media. This is set to be one of the most-seen industry photos in the coming weeks and so much thought is put into it by photographer, Adrian Franklin. The stunning staircase of the St Pancras Renaissance was the perfect back-drop for this picture. You may recognise the staircase from the iconic “Wannabe” video as a certain five-piece girl band spiced up our lives on it in the 90’s. All chefs were then whisked away for their own individual photos and had the opportunity to get to know each other. The camaraderie between chefs is always incredible in The National Chef of the Year, although we know that when the chefs take their places on the famous stage at The Restaurant Show they will only be focusing on themselves and their own dishes.

What’s the brief?

It was then time for the moment that all ten chefs have been waiting for. That big reveal of the brief for the day and the long list of ingredients they must choose from in the mystery basket. Chefs must produce three courses within a two-hour period. The first course should be a lobster dish using live native lobster, followed by a main course using fresh seasonal whole English grouse, fully garnished to enhance the main ingredient. Dessert should be a modern interpretation of a classic British Pudding incorporating seasonal British fruit. Judges will expect the best use of seasonal produce from the mystery basket with a strong focus on excellent preparation, cooking, resting and seasoning with an appropriate level of innovation and perfect execution of finished dishes. Once the chefs had the full list in their hands it was time to meet the suppliers and learn more about the produce on offer. You could see the minds of the finalists working overtime as thoughts and ideas popped into their heads. It’s now time for them to take the list of ingredients and criteria away and start planning their menus. However, they only have eight days to do this as everything must be submitted to the Craft Guild of Chefs by 5pm on the 20th September 2018.

Whilst the chefs were chatting to sponsors, they were individually whisked off to be interviewed by TV presenter, Anna Walker where she got to know each one a little better. These videos will be shared on stage whilst the chefs are cooking as well as via the Craft Guild of Chefs social media channels over the next few weeks so look out for them.

Watch the live action with Lockhart Catering

As a headline sponsor, we are providing the deserving top 3 spots with up to £1250 worth of Catering Equipment, as well as a Culinary Prize Trip to Norway for the Senior & Young champions. We’ll also be at The Restaurant Show competition theatre on Tuesday 2nd October and will be bringing you the live action on our Instagram account via our I360TV innovation channel.

However, we absolutely recommend you try and be in the audience as it’s an incredible event to watch. The results will be announced via the Craft Guild of Chefs Twitter account from 5pm on the day.