The Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year

Criteria and Task

This year The National Chef of the Year criteria will focus on food waste and the use of ingredients as the UK and World grapple with the cost-of-living crisis, food inflation, supply chain disruption and ongoing global events which continue to challenge us all. We are keen to see how local and global sustainable ingredients are skilfully utilised by chefs while demonstrating excellent understanding of ingredients. You should continue to celebrate and support excellent food producers and farmers as well as small businesses through your competition entry showcasing both simple and high-quality ingredients, elevating them to produce excellent dishes for your menu entry.

We invite professional chefs from all ethnic and gender backgrounds to join in this celebration and entering one of the UKs longest running and most prestigious competition. There are no barriers to entry and celebrating our rich culture and culinary heritage is done best when reflected by the diversity within the hospitality industry.

You can download our guidelines to help you complete your entry. 

The Task

Competitors are required to produce a three (3) course celebration menu for 2 covers within 2 hours.


  • Menus should reflect the season in which they will be cooked.
  • Chefs are encouraged to use their own interpretation and innovation within the menu guidelines.
  • Successful candidates will be required to cook their menus in October 2023.
  • Seasonal changes and amendments will be allowed once finalists are announced.



Love Food Hate Waste

A first course which may be a fish, seafood or vegetarian dish with a focus on zero waste

  • A strong emphasis on vegetables, pulses, grains within dishes 
  • Techniques and uses of ingredients demonstrate waste reduction of ingredients used (eg utilising whole items) 
  • Focus on sustainability, seasonality, innovation, food waste, marriage and balance of flavours
  • The dish should use ingredients that are naturally harmonious and belong together.


Main Course

A Lamb dish using 2 cuts of Lamb suitably garnished.

  • The dish should include any two of the cuts listed below as a primary and secondary element
  • The choice is yours, but the dish must make use of ingredients, techniques and cooking styles that bring the very best from the lamb dish.

Cuts to choose from:

- Loin / Saddle

- Rack

- Shoulder

- Leg

- Shank

- Neck

- Rump

- Flank

  • Judges will want to see how natural seasonal accompaniments are showcased within the dish.
  • Consider use of herbs, spices, complimentary ingredients, and textures
  • Consider various national and international cuisines to create a delicious main course
  • Competitors may clean, butcher, and marinade the lamb elements in advance.
  • Where used, a secondary (slow cook) lamb cut may be cooked in advance and finished for service.

Note: (relevant once finalists are announced)

  • The 10 successful competitors that reach final stages will be required to work with New Zealand Lumina Lamb.
  • The remaining 30 semi finalists will be invited to participate in a separate Lumina challenge. 
  • Lumina Lamb is a premium product, with excellent sustainable and quality credentials.
  • Full details, advice and guidance as well as sample cuts will be made available once finalists are announced.
  • There will be full opportunity to receive samples and work with these cuts to adapt dishes and garnishes accordingly.



Chocolate with a savoury twist

Competitors are required to produce a warm or cold dessert using Valrhona chocolate.

Recipes should include a savoury aspect which may be a vegetable or vegetable derivative.

  • Competitors are required to showcase chocolate as the focal point of the dessert (not just a garnish) 
  • Consider savoury elements to create a perfect marriage and balance of dessert
  • Vegetables, savoury ingredients, oils, ferments etc.. may be included
  • Judges will be looking for an inspiring dessert to compliment the menu

Entry Guidelines

Competitors should pay particular attention to:

Skills – a strong focus for judges

Taste & Flavour

Seasonality (successful finalists will be able to adapt for seasonal changes)

Sourcing & Provenance

Menu Balance

Wastage – (Zero Waste theme)

Adherence to criteria

Mise en place allowed

Timing – menu must be capable of being prepared, cooked and served within a 2 HOUR TIMEFRAME

Mise en Place allowed

Unless stated in the criteria for each dish, no preparation is permitted other than:

  • Weighed ingredients
  • Peeled, not prepared fruit and vegetables
  • Basic stocks and sauces
  • Puff pastry, filo pastry 
  • Egg custards (not set) and batters
  • Marinated meats or fish (where appropriate)
  • Marinated, preserved, dehydrated or fermented fruit or vegetable garnishes

Please Note:

Dish Photography: seasonal variations will be allowed for the purposes of photographs accompanying competition entries.

40 semi-finalists will be selected from the initial entry stage, announced Thursday 29th June.

Successful paper entries - Semi-Finalists are then required to create a short video describing your passion and inspiration behind their menu – details will be given to all semi-finalists on Friday 30th June

10 finalists are then selected (announced Thursday 27th July) and will be required to cook their original entry on Tuesday 10th October

Details for the final will be send to all finalists on Friday 28th July

Unless otherwise stated, competitors are required to supply all food and specialist equipment.

Competitors should be aware that cook off for finals will be in October and should consider seasonal changes accordingly. Successful finalists will be permitted to make seasonal changes closer to the final in accordance to the rules.

Dates to note:

Closing date for receipt of preliminary entries: Monday 22nd May

Announcement of the semi-finalists: Thursday 29th June

Stage 2: Deadline Monday 10th July

Finalist Mentor Day: Wednesday 6th September, London based venue

Grand Final: Tuesday 10th October, University of West London (UWL)

Premiere Awards Celebration: Tuesday 10th October 2023, London

Wishing you the very best of luck with your application. Results of the preliminary entries will be announced on Thursday 29th June.

Don’t forget to follow The National Chef of the Year on Twitter @Craft_Guild #ncoty

The National Chef of the Year Entry


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