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A highlight in the culinary calendar is the National Chef of the Year London semi-finals where 30 chefs battle it out for their place in the October final at The Restaurant Show. Regarded as one of the UK’s most prestigious chef titles, the results of NCOTY are hotly anticipated by chefs up and down the country. It’s a competition we are proud to support, and we were delighted to attend the London heats last week to support the candidates.

The London heats take place at Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School and the impressive venue itself recognises the prestige of this title. From the moment you arrive at the building, you know that you are amongst some of the most talented up-and-coming chefs in the UK. As chefs wait outside nervously for the competition to begin, you get a real sense of how much this means to them. Hours and hours of work have already gone into the build-up, whether that’s planning their three-course menus or practising cooking their dishes alongside their commis chefs.

Hear from the judges on YouTube

Each year the Craft Guild of Chefs gets a huge number of entries to the competition and the judges must whittle them down to just 40 chefs for the heats. Getting to the semi-finals is a huge achievement in itself but you get the feeling it’s not enough for many of these ambitious chefs – they are in the competition for one thing only, and that is simply to win the overall title.

Before the London heats even began the first NCOTY finalist had already been found in Sheffield and this was revealed as Derek Johnstone from Borthwick Castle. Each heat winner is automatically awarded a final spot, with the remaining six places going to the chefs with the highest points across all four heats.

What did the judges, competitors and organisers have to say on the day?The competition is famed for having some of the toughest judges scoring the dishes. Each food course has its own judges with the overall Chair of judges, Gary Jones overseeing the whole process. Social media is always filled with updates from the Craft Guild of Chefs, its judges, competitors and supporters, as the world of hospitality follows the competition from kitchens, offices and homes throughout Britain. We’ve picked out ten of our favourite social media comments from the day to share with those who missed it or want to reflect back on an incredible experience.

Gary Jones


Ben Tish


Dennis Mwakulua


The Caterer


Glenn Evans


Martin Kilbey


David Mulcahy


Nick Smith


Hayden Groves


Kuba Winkowski


Who are the finalists?

On Tuesday, 2nd October, ten chefs will showcase their culinary skills at The Restaurant Show in front of an audience of thousands. These chefs have been revealed as:

• Derek Johnstone, head chef, Borthwick Castle
• George Blogg, head chef, Gravetye Manor
• Glenn Evans, head of food, Las Iguanas
• Liam Fauchard-Newman, senior sous chef, Fenchurch
• Martin Frickel, senior sous chef, The Forestside
• David Nielson, senior chef de partie, Number One at the Balmoral
• Nick Smith, head chef, Harbour and Jones Ashurst
• Kuba Winkowski, head chef, The Feathered Nest Inn
• Stefan Sewell, Defence Chef Instructor, CSCAT
• Thomas Westerland, head chef, Lucknam Park

Many of these chefs are competing in the National Chef of the Year final for the first time and the word in the kitchen is it could be one of the closest finals yet. We’ll be bringing you more of the action at the mentor day in September when the mystery basket full of ingredients will be revealed. Finalists need to cook-up a starter, main course and dessert that will impress their culinary heroes including Clare Smyth, Tom Kerridge, Mark Flanagan, Ollie Dabbous and Philip Howard.

Keep up-to-date with the competition news by following the #NCOTY hashtag or join in the conversation with @BunzlLockhart.


Lockhart Catering on 26 June 2018 10:00 AM

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