For the first time, National and Young National Chef of the Year finalists will be required to declare the allergen content of the dishes they enter in the final. The move was jointly announced by competition organisers, the Craft Guild of Chefs, and the competition sponsor, KNORR (Unilever Food Solutions).
In addition to marking skills and innovation, judges will also focus on the contestants’ knowledge of allergens within their menus. Finalists’ must be able to list any of the 14 declarable allergens their dishes include – in line with the Food Information Regulations of December 2014.
David Mulcahy, vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs and the competition organiser, said: “National and Young National Chef of the Year are the most prestigious culinary competitions in the country. By asking finalists to declare the allergens in their dishes, we’re putting out a clear message. No matter who you are, if you’re serving food, allergen legislation applies to you.”
It’s a message the industry needs to hear. 48% of foodservice operators still can’t name the top 14 declarable allergens and many allergy sufferers struggle to trust venues as a result. Which could be costing the industry as much as £300m a year.
Alex Hall, executive chef, Unilever Food Solutions, said: “KNORR has long been a proud supporter of the National and Young National Chef of the Year competitions. By working with the Craft Guild of Chefs to get finalists to declare the allergen content of their dishes – we’re putting the issue firmly under the spotlight and setting an example for the industry as a whole.”
The announcement follows the release of Unilever Food Solutions’ guide – Managing allergens in your kitchen – designed to help operators feel confident about dealing with allergens safely. The guide is available to download free of charge from www.ufs.com/allergens.