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Posted by Lockhart Catering on Friday 08 February 2019


Will you be entering National Chef of the Year?

It's been an exciting week as the hotly anticipated brief from Chair of Judges, Gary Jones has been revealed for National Chef of the Year (NCOTY).

As headline sponsors of this competition we've been keeping a close eye on the #NCOTY activity on social media and it seems that this year's brief has got a big thumbs up from chefs.

Read our summary of last year's winners

What's on the brief?

The summer-themed brief has been created by Chair of judges, Gary Jones, executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir. Menus must consist of a 'Perfect Egg Dish' starter served hot, of the competitor's choice. Judges are looking for a beef main course to include two cuts and two cooking methods. The beef must be sourced from the UK and competitors should indicate the breed of beef, farm sourced from and maturation period.

For the dessert, chefs must create a delicious chocolate tart incorporating or garnished with seasonal fruits. Chefs are advised to focus on skills, creating the perfect pastry, filling, texture and overall execution of dessert.

Ambitious chefs have until the 22nd March 2019 to complete their entries when they will be handed over to an impressive list of industry experts. Judging will take place at our London Innovation Centre where these experts will whittle down the list to just 40 competitors. Only those carefully selected chefs will have the opportunity to cook their dishes so it's vital that the written menu and photographs truly wow the judges.

What's it like to be in the spotlight?

Last year's winner, Kuba Winkowski has been creating headlines both in the UK and back in Poland since his win. Making the front pages of industry magazines, regular appearances in the regional media as well as doing radio interviews, he's been proud to share his success story. Kuba is one of those chefs who inspired an entire industry in the way he changed his outlook on life and improved his health and fitness to achieve his goal. After taking part in his first final he wanted to come back a second year and win it so gave the competition everything. In April, Kuba will be heading to our Innovation Centre to cook for us and we can't wait to learn more about the current title holder and taste his much talked about food.

As this year's competition was launched on Wednesday, Kuba said: “It took me two attempts to win the title of The National Chef of the Year and it was absolutely worth the wait. Hearing my name called as the champion is something I had dreamt of since I started working in the UK. The list of former winners is so impressive and to have my name added to that hall of fame was just the most incredible feeling."

What are the judges looking for?

One of the judges last year was Ollie Dabbous from Hide Restaurant who told us that to win National Chef of the Year you need a good palate, resilience and dedication as you need to practise your dishes regularly. He's also looking for The X Factor of the culinary world as he feels that when you are tasting so many plates of food the winning dishes will be those that stand out.

Watch the full interview with Ollie

Former winner and now regular judge of the competition, Alyn Williams said that for him it's about the overall quality. Judges only score one course each so to win the title you need consistency across all three dishes, both at the semi-final and the final. Alyn looks at how well the ingredients are prepared, cooked and served but overall flavour is what will score the highest marks.

Watch the full interview with Alyn

Are you considering entering this year?

We would encourage all chefs to enter the competition as whatever stage you get to it provides opportunities to develop your skills and grow as a chef. Simply creating your entry menu can take you out of your comfort zone a little and inspire new ideas and creativity as you research ingredients and suppliers. Taking time out of the normal kitchen and routine to do something different will really help a chef.

Those who do make it through to the semi-final will cook for some of the biggest chef names in the industry. It's not every day you get to create dishes for award-winning and Michelin-starred chefs, but you will see plenty of these judges in the heats. It also gives you the chance to meet other chefs from across the UK and connect with suppliers and industry press. The ten chefs who make the final will have grown so much throughout the experience. We see it year on year as headline sponsors. It gives real confidence and pushes chefs into the industry limelight which can open so many doors and provide new and exciting opportunities.

To enter visit and complete the online entry form. Good luck chefs – it will be worth it.

1 Comment(s)  

Lockhart Catering 08/02/2019 10:00:00