Our Ambassadors

  • Kenny Atkinson

    Chef Patron at the Michelin-starred restaurant, House of Tides in Newcastle and 2022 and 2023 Chair of Judges for NCOTY

    “It’s my second year as Chair of judges and I am absolutely raring to go again! Last year we crowned an incredible winner in Ben after an extremely hotly contested final and I’m confident we’re in for another thrilling event. It’s known as the UK’s most prestigious culinary competition for a reason as it attracts the best chefs, judges and sponsors in the industry. We all have an important role to play over the next eight months by shining the spotlight on the inspirational chefs who enter, those who make the semis and final, and ultimately the winner.”

  • Lisa Goodwin-Allen

    Executive chef at Northcote and 2022 and 2023 Chair of Judges for YNCOTY

    “I’ve always been fully invested in these competitions as I know the huge role they play in both celebrating and attracting culinary talent. Supporting and mentoring young chefs is an absolute passion of mine so I am honoured to lead the way in judging Young National Chef of the Year for a second year running. We see chefs go on a real journey in YNCOTY and for many entering this competition is the start of dramatic changes in their careers. It helps a young chef to develop skills, grow as a person and give them confidence to take on the next stage of their career. None of this would be possible without the team of organisers and sponsors who drive this forward every year.”

  • Paul Ainsworth

    Chef-patron, Paul Ainsworth at No. 6 and 2020 and 2021 Chair of Judges

    “I am absolutely committed to this role and believe it’s important to lead from the top so my judging will be honest, firm and honourable. As head judge, I’ll be watching semi-finalists and finalists closely during the cook-offs and making sure the team of judges are working hard throughout the two hours to find the right winner. Whilst it’s important this competition remains current, it’s a cooking competition at the end of the day and I want the competitors to produce food that appeals to all five senses. As judges we just want to taste food that makes us say ‘wow’.”

    Hear from our Chairman
  • Hrishikesh Desai

    2020 - 2021 YNCOTY Chair of judges, executive chef at The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House in Windermere

    “It is an absolute honour for me to chair the Young National Chef of the Year, these finalists are the upcoming stars of our industry and we want them to be the catalyst for change and inspire their colleagues and peers. Ensuring that this competition could still go ahead in 2020 was an important project for me over the last few months as I know giving positivity, hope and focus to chefs is more important than ever. We had to tweak how we selected the finalists, but we invited a strong group of chefs who have already had success in other competitions; this led to an incredible final.”

    Hear from our Chair of judges 
  • Gary Jones

    Executive Head Chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Chairman 2018 and 2019

    “I am privileged to be the Chair of judges for NCOTY. It’s a competition that has been won by so many talented chefs, has an incredible panel of judges, and receives fantastic support from media, sponsors and partners. I’ll be working with the Craft Guild of Chefs to find new and exciting ways to drive this event forward, whilst ensuring that culinary skills continue to be at the heart of every stage of the competition. It’s this skills focus which make the NCOTY title so credible, and one that so many chefs across the UK aspire to win.”

  • Clare Smyth MBE

    Chairman of judges and chef patron at three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

    “It’s great to have so many fantastic chefs entering and whilst we’ve had some fantastic finals, 2015 was exceptionally high in standard and I think this really was the best ever. I want to encourage chefs from all sectors to take part as it is a great platform to get your name out there”

  • Philip Howard

    Proprietor of the two Michelin-starred The Square Restaurant

    “The Craft Guild has put together an exemplary competition, which progresses with the times and requires truly talented chefs to enter in order to do it justice. For those who do, the rewards are immense.”

  • Matt Abé

    Chair of Judges, National Chef of the Year

    “With Gordon being a former National Chef of the Year winner and having judged it previously myself, I know it’s a competition that is very much on most chef’s radar. I’m so proud to be the new Chair of Judges and see what I can bring to the event. I want to push new things and continue to grow this amazing competition, celebrating the incredible talent that we have in the UK”

  • Russell Bateman

    Chair of Judges, Young National Chef of the Year

    “I absolutely love these competitions and so this is a real honour for me to lead the judging process for Young National Chef of the Year. Nurturing young talent is something I am extremely passionate about and having chaired the Graduate Awards previously it seems the right next step to take to follow and support these young chefs’ journeys.”


Judging panels over the past few years have included:

  • Adam Handling

    Adam Handling Restaurant Group

  • Aktar Islam

    Chef Director/Owner

  • Anthony Demetre

    Chef Patron
    Wild Honey St James

  • Damien Wager

    Edible Art Patisserie

  • Gary Hunter

    Deputy Executive Principal
    Westminster College

  • George Blogg

    Head Chef
    Gravetye Manor

  • James Knappett

    Owner/Chef, Kitchen Table

  • Jonny Bone

    Head Chef
    Core by Clare Smyth

  • Lisa Goodwin Allen

    Executive Head Chef
    Northcote Manor

  • Matt Owens

    Chairman, Craft Guild of Chefs
    Development Chef for Alliance Group

  • Paul Askew

    The Art School restaurant and Art school Cellars Author

  • Paul Foster

    Chef Patron

  • Paul Walsh

    Executive Chef
    City Social

  • Peter Joyner

    Food Development Director

  • Sophie Mitchell

    Chef & Caterer
    TV Presenter and Food writer

  • Stephen Scuffell

    Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs
    Chef Ambassador Gourmet Classic

  • Steve Munkley

    Vice President Craft Guild of Chefs

  • Willie Pike


  • David Mulcahy

    Food Innovation and Sustainability Director
    Schools and Universities, Sodexo UK & Ireland

  • Sat Bains

    Chef Patron
    Restaurant Sat Bains

  • Simon Hulstone

    Chef Patron
    The Elephant Restaurant

  • Frederick Forster

    Head Chef
    SOW Restaurants

  • William Curley

    William Curley Ltd

  • Stephen Terry

    The Hardwick Arms

  • Clare Smyth

    Core by Clare Smyth

  • Claude Bosi

    Bibendum restaurant in Chelsea

  • Jonny Lake

    Chef Patron
    Trivet Restaurant

  • Mark Birchall

    Chef Director
    Moor Hall Restaurant with Rooms

  • James 'Jocky' Petrie

    Group Executive Development Chef
    Gordon Ramsay Group

  • Philip Howard

    Chef Patron
    Elystan Street

  • Ollie Dabbous

    Chef & Founder

  • Graham Hornigold

    Smart Patisserie

  • Alyn Williams

    Executive Chef
    Park Row
    Former winner of NCOTY

  • Julie Walsh

    Head Pastry Chef Lecturer
    Le Cordon Bleu

  • Russell Bateman

    Head Chef at The Falcon Hotel
    Former winner of National Chef of the Year

  • Lee Westcott


  • Daniel Galmiche

    Chef Patron
    Pot Kiln

  • Luke Selby

    Luke Selby
    Executive Chef at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
    Former Young National Chef of the Year &  National Chef of the Year

  • Hayden Groves

    Chef Consultant
    Former National Chef of the Year winner

  • Chantelle Nicholson

    Chef Patron

  • Kuba Winkowski

    Former National Chef of the Year winner

  • Nieves Barragan Mohacho

    Director of Sabor Resturants

  • Stephen Trigg

    Lauden Chocolate

  • Anna Haugh

    Head Chef
    Myrtle Restaurant

  • Tom Shepherd

    Chef Patron

  • Roberta Hall-McCarron

    The Little Chatroom

  • Nathan Davies

    Head Chef
    SY23 Restaurant

  • Paul Foster

    Chef Patron
    Salt Restaurant

  • Kenny Atkinson

    Chef Patron
    House of Tides

  • Brett Graham

    Chef Patron
    The Ledbury

  • Dom Owen


  • Matt Abé

    Chef Patron
    Retaurant Gordon Ramsay

  • Steve Groves

    Executive Chef

  • Gary Jones

    Consultant Chef

  • Sarah Hartnett

    Executive Patry Chef
    The Smart Group

  • Mark Perkins

    Executive Pastry Chef
    The Rosewood London

  • James Golding

    Chef Director
    The Pig Hotel