Craft Guild of Chefs begins search for UK’s top chef

Craft Guild of Chefs begins search for UK’s top chef
James Devine, NCOTY 2017
01/02/2017 - 16:00
The search to find the next National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) is underway, just four months after the Craft Guild of Chefs crowned James Devine its 2017 champion.

Gary Jones, head chef at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons has also been revealed as the new chair of judges, taking over from Clare Smyth MBE.

Jones and his team of judges will oversee the competing chefs in a series of rounds before the live final at The Restaurant Show on October 3rd.

David Mulcahy, vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of NCOTY, said: “Gary has been involved with the competition for many years and we are thrilled that he is overseeing the judging panel.

“This competition moves up a gear every single year and with Gary at the helm we are confident this will continue. The NCOTY committee has created an interesting brief for the online entry stage and we’re looking forward to seeing how different chefs interpret it.

“Whatever stage you get to in this competition, you will learn from the experience and take away new ideas that will help you develop as a chef.”

The competition is open to chefs who are 24 years or older on February 1st and can come from all areas of hospitality including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors. Chefs may be working in the UK or overseas.

Chair of judges Gary Jones, said: “I am delighted 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 evolve in the UK.  It’s this focus on skill which makes the NCOTY title so credible, and one that so many chefs across the UK aspire to win.”

To enter National Chef of the Year in 2017, chefs need to produce a creative menu for two guests to be served within two hours. The menu must consist of a vegetarian based starter, a duck and cherry combination main course and a classic tart as a dessert.

Competitors will put their own interpretation on each dish with a strong focus on seasonality and sustainable sourcing of ingredients. Full details of the brief and an online entry form can be found at

NCOTY James Devine, said: “I was encouraged to enter NCOTY by my employers and having seen the record of winners, I knew that I wanted my name on it next. As soon as the entry process started I threw myself into the competition and used every spare minute I had to ensure that my name was called out as the winner last October.

“When you look at the calibre of judges at each stage, you know you’ve truly earned your place on that list. I’d recommend all chefs give themselves the opportunity to be part of this competition and enter.”

Chefs have until March 31st to submit their entry and a shortlist of 40 chefs for the semi-finals will be revealed on May 19th. This year’s heats will take place at Sheffield College on June 6th, and at Le Cordon Bleu in London on June 20th. Ten chefs will go through to the final.

The National Chef of the Year competition is run in partnership with KNORR, Lockhart Catering Equipment and SousVide Tools. It is supported by British Premium Meats, Cacao Barry, CCS, Churchill, Direct Seafood, Evolve, Mash, OpenTable and Ritter Courivaud.

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