The Ultimate Culinary Challenge
Seen as the UK’s most prestigious and respected culinary content, the NCOTY competition has a long heritage, having helped to launch careers and opportunities for some of the biggest names in the UK’s chef world. The passion, the emotion and the pure blood, sweat and tears you see in a cook-off, shows how much these competitions mean to a chef. It tests more than culinary skills; it tests character, resilience and raw emotion and only the best will take that top spot.
With the prestigious panel of judges, led by Kenny Atkinson, every chef who enters knows they will gain valuable feedback to help them improve; whatever stage of the competition they reach. There’s never been a more important time for chefs to push themselves out of their comfort zone and into the NCOTY spotlight.
NCOTY Criteria for 2023
This year the National Chef of the Year criteria focuses on food waste and the creative use of ingredients as the UK and rest of the world grapple with the cost-of-living crisis, food inflation, supply chain disruption and ongoing global events, which continue to challenge us all. The NCOTY judges are keen to see how culinary skills along with sustainable, local and global produce are used to demonstrate an excellent understanding of ingredients. You can read the full criteria here.
We wish to invite professional chefs from all ethnic and gender backgrounds to join in this celebration by entering one of the UKs longest running and most prestigious competitions.
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.
As we emerge from a difficult period for the food industry, we look forward to showcasing talent, welcoming chefs, and adding value and career opportunities to those who engage within the National Chef of the Year programme this year and into the next half century of this fantastic competition.
Hear what our winners had to say...
“Winning National Chef of the Year was crazy. The standard of dishes cooked in the final and level of chefs in the competition was unbelievable and so sometimes I still can’t believe I achieved it. This title was always something I wanted, and it just felt like the right time for me to go for it. Winning the competition in the 50th anniversary year just made it extra special and even more so that it was ten years since I won the young chef title. It’s a fantastic competition to be part of and I’m looking forward to seeing what opportunities it brings.”
- "Winning National Chef of the Year has been an incredible and humbling journey, I'm still honoured and surprised to be announced as the winner to join such a prestigious list of past winners it's something that I’ll be forever proud of! "
- "National chef of the year has been an incredible journey for me. It has tested all my abilities, emotions & character as a chef & been vital in my development. I am so proud to be part of this unique competition, honoured & humbled to join such a prestigious list of chefs. It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
- "Winning National Chef Of The Year is an incredible honour and one of my proudest moments, for me it's the UK's top chefs competition and the chefs associated with the competition are the shining lights of our industry. The connections made throughout and since the competition are invaluable and a real boost to my career."
- "I’m honoured, I never expected to win or to come this far. Today went well for me. I kept calm and was pleased with the way all my dishes came out. Each dish was something I’d happily eat or serve up. Right now."
- "Winning The National Chef of the Year, it is the pinnacle of my career to date, to now be included in the hall of fame alongside such industry heavyweights is a dream come true."
- "Winning National Chef of the Year was a great personal triumph for me. Chef of the Year gave me a name in my own right, I am very proud to stand alongside the judges to help find the next talent to come from this competition."
- "It was a fantastic experience! From pulling together my entry and practicing the recipes I was submitting, through to the cook-offs and the fina. I’ve met some great contacts through the competition both on a personal and business level. It’s amazing what doors are suddenly opened for you once your profile is raised."
- "I am very humbled but also extremely proud to now be amongst so many great names in the industry that have won the title over the years."
- "It is a huge honour to win NCOTY and amazing to think my name is now added to that list of wonderful past winners. To be recognised by the fantastic line up of judges was also a massive boost for me personally. I’m incredibly proud to have been recognised by such an esteemed judging panel. I gained more from the NCOTY that I could have believed possible at the beginning of my journey. I will take my experience back to the kitchen at Colette’s and use it to continue to grow as a Chef. I look forward to seeing the competition go from strength to strength."
- "I never thought I was good enough, the standard (of the competition) is so high. The First year I reached the final, I thought, OK, the second year, I thought, OK, but the third year I really had to push the boundaries. It’s not just about winning. It’s about your career and what the title can do for it."
- "Winning National Chef of the Year 2019 title was a dream come true. I had watched the competition closely since 2014 and I was gearing up for it and gaining the confidence. It is such a proud moment when all the afford and hard work put in over the years pays off and your name is listed alongside people you admire. It is an honour to become NCOTY ambassador to carry the legacy into the 2020."
- "I feel honoured to have taken the title of NCOTY this year, I put a lot of work into it and it all seems to have paid off! It has always been an ambition of mine to go for the senior title ever since winning the YNCOTY back in 2014 and this year I felt ready for it. To have my name alongside the past winners, all of whom are chefs I have always looked up-to is something that I will always be hugely proud of. I am sure that winning the NCOTY will open many doors but for now I am looking forward to getting my head back down in a kitchen!"
NCOTY Title Holders
- 2023 Ben Murphy
- 2022 Thomas Swaby
- 2021 Nick Smith
- 2020 Steve Groves
- 2019 Kuba Winkowski
- 2018 Luke Selby
- 2017 James Devine
- 2016 Larry Jayasekara
- 2014 Russell Bateman
- 2013 Hayden Groves
- 2012 Alyn Williams
- 2011 Frederick Forster
- 2010 Hrishikesh Desai
- 2008 Simon Hulstone
- 2006 Eyck Zimmer
- 2004 Steve Love
- 2002 Mark Sargeant
- 2000 Bruce Sangster
- 1984 Robert Mabey
- 1982 William Stafford
- 1980 Ken Whibley
- 1978 Paul Brady
- 1976 Eddie van Meille
- 1974 Brian Price
- 1972 Pierre Jacquemin
- 1998 Kevin Viner
- 1996 David Everitt-Matthias
- 1994 Lou Jones
- 1992 Gordon Ramsay
- 1990 Roger Narbett
- 1988 Mark Gregory
- 1986 David Pitchford