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 demonstrating excellent culinary skills across all disciplines, the creative use of local and global sustainable ingredients and the avoidance of any unnecessary food waste.

You should continue to celebrate and support excellent food producers 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 submit an entry to one of the UK’s 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.

Competitors should be aged 26 years or older on or before 1st October 2024.

The Task

Competitors are required to produce a three (3) course celebration menu for two (2) covers within three (3) hours*. (*Note increase in time)


  • 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 original menus in October 2024
  • Seasonal changes and amendments will be allowed once finalists are announced


Starter: "This is Me"

A first course which may be a fish , seafood or vegetarian dish to reflect the chef’s own identity and unique personality.

This is an opportunity to showcase your true self on a plate. Consider ethnicity, heritage, background influences and even the environment where you grew up.

Focus on:
- Excellent skills, knowledge, and culinary techniques
- Simplicity and use of ingredients to demonstrate waste reduction (e.g. utilising whole items)
- Focus on sustainability, seasonality, innovation, 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 and capable of being cooked within the extended 3-hour period.

  • Choose any two of the cuts listed below as a primary and secondary element in the dish.
  • 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.
  • A pre-braised cut may be included from one of the options below – brought and finished on the day.
First cut:
  • From the Shoulder (inclusive of neck fillet, oyster shoulder and foreshank)
Second cut: choose one cut from either:
  • Boneless loin
  • French trimmed rack
  • Rump
  • Competitors may create dishes using any Lamb but note that NZ Lumina will be used for the finals. You may wish to use this from the outset to avoid later recipe alterations
  • Judges will want to see how the lamb element is elevated using relevant complementary and seasonal ingredients, flavours, textures and techniques
  • Competitors may use other elements (e.g. Offal, charcuterie) as garnish, or within the dish at their own discretion
  • Consider various national and international cuisines to create a delicious main course
  • Competitors may clean, butcher or marinade the lamb elements in advance
  • Prepared stocks and jus – where used, must be from Essential Cuisine range, please click here to view the products available.

Note: (relevant once finalists are announced)

  • The 10 successful finalists will be provided with NZ Lumina Lamb to be used in the final using same cuts as in original criteria
  • For full details of Lumina Lamb including specifications, sustainability and quality credentials please click the link here
  • Further details, advice and guidance as well as sample cuts will be made available once finalists are announced
  • Finalists will have the opportunity to adapt dishes and garnishes accordingly



A chocolate finale

Competitors are required to produce a warm or cold Chocolate Dessert that showcases the flavours of Valrhona Chocolate . The dish's flavour is all about the nuances and flavours of the grand crus*. For further details on Valrhona Chocolate click here .

  • Competitors must showcase chocolate as the focal point of the dessert (not just a garnish) 
  • Consider all elements to create a perfect marriage and balance of dessert
  • Judges will be looking for an inspiring dessert to complement the menu

* please note that the term “grand crus” refers to the chocolate that will be provided by Valrhona, whose chocolate range has different flavour characteristics arising from the area in which the cocoa is grown.

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 (global and local)
  • 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 3 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 (any prepared stocks or jus should be from Essential Cuisine’s range – please see link here to view product range)
  • 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

Sponsor Ingredients: Note where sponsors are supporting food and non-food items, this will become clear once finalists are announced and at the mentor day.

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 on Wednesday 26th June.

Successful paper entries - Semi-Finalists are then required to create a short video describing your passion and inspiration behind your menu – details will be given to all semi-finalists on Friday 28th June .

10 finalists are then selected (announced Monday 29th July) and will be required to cook their original entry on Tuesday 8th October

Details for the final will be sent to all finalists on Monday 29th 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 on Tuesday 8th 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: Tuesday 28th May 2024

Announcement of the semi-finalists: Wednesday 26th June 2024

Stage 2 (video + supplementary information): Friday 28th June to Tuesday 9th July 2024 (deadline)

Finalist Mentor Day: Tuesday 3rd September 2024, Waitrose Innovation Studio, Bracknell, Berkshire

Grand Final: Tuesday 8th October 2024, University of West London (UWL)

Premiere Awards Celebration: Tuesday 8th October 2024, Hippodrome Casino, London

Wishing you the very best of luck with your application. Results of the preliminary entries will be announced on Wednesday 26th June.

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

How to Enter Help

Before entering we recommend you read this 'how to enter' document. It may even be a good idea to print it off so you can reference it if needed while working on your entry. Click here to download.

The National Chef of the Year Entry


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