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 Paul Ainsworth, 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 their comfort zone and into the NCOTY spotlight.
This year The National Chef of the Year criteria will focus on chefs’ experiences of the past year as this global pandemic will go down in history. The impact on the hospitality industry has been devastating for many chefs and businesses. Our farmers, fishermen, artisan food producers and small businesses have had their livelihoods challenged, with many struggling to recover. There have been many stories of chefs rising from the ashes to develop new businesses, provide new services and change the way food and hospitality is offered. From providing Michelin starred meal kits to feeding communities and developing an online presence, chefs have been amazing at embracing change. You may have spent more time cooking for family or friends at home, learnt new skills or cooking for customers in a completely different way.
The importance of a sustainable food future is in the spotlight and supporting our food heroes is critical as we emerge from the effects of the pandemic. You are required to create a 3-course menu which captures the past year and how your relationship with food, food producers and suppliers have affected you.
Starter - To produce a delicious vegetarian starter dish for 2 guests focusing on the Future50 ingredients incorporating fresh seasonal produce. Competitors must include at least one of the following Future 50 ingredients in their dish.
- Orange Fleshed Pumpkin
- Saffron Milk cap mushroom
- Beetroot + beet leaf
Note: These ingredients must form a central part of the dish (not a garnish but integral to the dish) Future 50 ingredients download
As farmers and fishermen struggled to sell their goods to an industry that had paused, we wish to draw attention to these food heroes and this vital industry. Share your food hero story through your main course celebrating the very best fresh seasonal produce from land and sea.
Main Course: Your interpretation of a main course dish for 2 guests as a Land & Sea dish. Any cut and any species of meat or fish sourced from the UK&I, fully garnished and individually plated.
Following a year of basic food shortages, home-baking and cake making and a focus on cooking for family, we invite you to create a dessert which captures the sweetest moments of your year.
Dessert: Celebrating the Great British Pudding
Your twist on an individually plated dessert for 2 guests served warm or cold.
Hear what our winners had to say...
- "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
- 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 Bryan 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