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.

NCOTY Criteria

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.

Menu Criteria

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.

  • Watercress
  • Orange Fleshed Pumpkin
  • Walnuts
  • Saffron Milk cap mushroom
  • Kale
  • Beetroot + beet leaf
  • Chickpeas

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...

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