Eight outstanding chefs are gearing up for what could be the greatest highlight of their career after making it through to The National Chef of the Year 2013 final.
The talented line-up was chosen following four nerve-racking semi-final heats in London and Sheffield over the last three weeks, with 44 of the UK’s top chefs striving to make the cut.
As an invaluable preparation tool, each finalist will now be invited to a mentor day with workshops, a masterclass with Phil Howard and Alyn Williams, expert advice on preparing for the final and the all important unveiling of the mystery basket of ingredients in a farmer’s market-style exhibition before facing the ultimate live showdown at The Restaurant Show on Tuesday, October 8th.
The 2013 winner of The National Chef of the Year, who will follow in the footsteps of celebrated chefs Gordon Ramsay, David Everitt-Matthias, Mark Sargeant and Simon Hulstone, will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony and VIP dinner in the evening.
As well as national acclaim, the chef that takes the title walks away with an impressive haul of prizes, with last year’s winner, Alyn Williams, winning cash, an exclusive study trip with dinner at a 3-starred Michelin restaurant in France, a second study trip to Norway, master classes with industry greats and specialist chef’s products and equipment.
David Mulcahy, organiser of the competition and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said the eight finalists had done extremely well as this year’s heats were very closely contested with competitors being fully focused producing some truly excellent dishes.
“As the date now looms to take The National Chef of the Year title, competitors now have to get their heads down in preparation for October’s final,” he said.
“It’s difficult because each finalist is a busy working chef, but I can’t emphasise enough the importance of practice, practice and even more practice. We hope they get as much as possible out of the mentor day arranged for September 20th, which aims to give them a better understanding of what they are going to face at the final.
“The mentor day may also be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to one of the biggest challenges in the final, the mystery basket, with finalists having to pick seasonal produce from land and sea from an order form just before the final. In my view, it is the ideal opportunity to explore under-exploited, seasonal ingredients they could effectively use.
“Ultimately, what judges will be looking for on the day is seasonality, good sourcing, and a well balanced menu. We can’t wait to see what this year’s finalists pull out of the bag.”
The National Chef of the Year, now in its fifth decade, is recognised as the most prestigious culinary challenge in the UK and the competition aspiring chefs want to win.
Each element from the initial paper judging to the semi-finals and final preparations test the chefs fully before the ultimate test in the final. Chefs who make it to the final deserve recognition for reaching this stage.
The final itself is a truly pressurised situation with some of the UK’s most highly regarded chefs judging on the day (see below) in front of a packed audience with the competitors’ peer group all gathered to see who reigns supreme on the day.
Ultimately, winning The National Chef of the Year can make a significant difference to a chef’s career and open doors to a more prosperous future, and the Craft Guild of Chefs continues to develop the competition to reflect the current industry.
Joining David and chairman of judges Philip Howard as this year’s ambassadors are Angela Hartnett, chef proprietor of Murano, and Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar. For more information, call Clair Bowman on 01293 610 329 or follow @TNCOTY on Twitter.
*The National Chef of the Year 2013 is in partnership with Lockhart Catering Equipment and Knorr and in association with CCS, Blue Arrow, Churchill, Electrolux, RARE, Cocoa Barry, Culinary Innovations and New Covent Garden Market.
The National Chef of the Year 2013 finalists are:
SHEFFIELD HEAT ONE – Modern British / European
Andrew Wright, Restaurant 23, Leamington Spa
Menu – Starter: Line Caught Cornish Mackerel, Oyster and Caviar
Main: Lighthorne Lamb with Summer Flavours
Dessert: Brown Butter and Chocolate Ganache
LONDON HEAT TWO – Asian / Oriental & Rest of the World
Joe McCafferty, Head Chef, Flesh and Buns in Covent Garden
Menu – Starter: Mackerel Shioyaki with Sea Vegetable Salad, Baby Sardines and Burdock/Ginger Dumplings
Main: Berkshire Pork with Kagishima Street Food: Sweet Potato, Black Pudding, Takoyaki and Griddles Japanese Enables with Wasabi
Dessert: Dark Chocolate and Yuzu Parfait, Kyoho Grape Sorbet and White Chocolate/Yuzu Mochi
LONDON HEAT THREE
Modern British / European
David Bush, Senior Chef de Partie, House of Commons
Menu – Starter: Line Caught Mackerel with Cucumber, Fennel and Buttermilk Snow
Main: Loin and Braised Cheek of Lamb with Almond Croquette Cauliflower, Morels and Asparagus
Dessert: Textures of Chocolate with Citrus
Russell Baterman, Head Chef, Colette’s Restaurant
Menu – Starter: Line Caught Cornish Mackerel, Warm and Chilled, Fowey Oyster, Horseradish, Gooseberries and Cucumber
Main: Jurassic Coast Rose Veal, Tunworth Cheese, Broad Beans, Onion, Nigella, Honey and Thyme Jus
Dessert: Tanzanian ‘Origin’ Chocolate, Cherries and Pistachio
Alex Bond, Sous Chef, Auberge du Lac
Menu – Starter: Charred Mackerel, Tartar on Toast, Fresh Sea Herbs and Oyster Veloute
Main: Roast Best End of Little Braxted Hall Lamb, Roast Sweetbread, English Peas, Red Pepper, Braised Couscous and Confit Garlic
Dessert: Chocolate Artichoke, Hazelnut and Wild Rice
Hayden Groves, Executive Chef, BaxterStorey
Menu – Starter: Cornish Mackerel and Heritage Beets
Main: Breast of Telmara Farm Duck, Confit Leg Croquette, Grilled Leek and ‘Potato Soubise’
Dessert: Caramelised White Chocolate Panna Cotte, Ghana Milk Chocolate Sorbet, Textures of Strawberry and Crystallised Basil
LONDON HEAT FOUR
Modern British / European
Lahiru Jayasekara, Head Chef The Manor, Weston-on-the-Green, Bicester
Menu – Starter: Charred Cornish Mackerel, Compressed Peach, Sea Pursalane, Puff Wild Rice
Main: Rhug Estate Milk Fed Lamb, Fennel, Artichoke and Goat Curd
Dessert: Cocao Barry 70% Cuba Chocolate, Hazelnut, Coffee
Simon Webb , Head Chef, CH&Co
Menu – Starter: Line Caught Mackerel, Cornish Crab, Buttermilk, Pickled Cucumber, Seaweed
Main: Spring Norfolk Banham Chicken, Pearl Barley, Burnt Lettuce and Confit Turnip
Dessert: Cocao Barry Plantation 65% Chocolate Delice, Yoghurt Mousse, Poached Peach, Fennel and Almonds
Judging at the semi-final heats were:
London (over 2 days)