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Forty Chefs In The Running To Be Crowned National Chef Of The Year

Today the Craft Guild of Chefs has unveiled the forty talented chefs who have made the top spots in the first round of the prestigious National Chef of the Year competition. Following a huge amount of interest in this year’s much sought-after title, the judges have praised the overall standard of entries with a shout out for the impressive level of chocolate desserts this year. Other themes spotted by the judges included a strong focus on provenance, sourcing, and food waste. Judges were inspired reading the many stories about why the dish was chosen or how it represents the chef.

To ensure a fair and unbiased approach, all the entries are judged anonymously as competitor names and places of work are hidden prior to the experts seeing each entry. There are separate judging teams for starter, main course and dessert and another team viewing the whole menu for overall balance. Once the marks are submitted, scores are reviewed in a deliberation meeting before any names are revealed to the judges.

Over the next few weeks, the chefs must create an amuse-bouche or pre-dessert with the theme ‘A taste of summer’ using seasonal ingredients. Chefs should bring this to life with a story of a personal food hero. It could be an inspirational chef, family member, mentor or industry personality that has inspired this dish.

Matt Abé, chef patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay said:
“In my first year as Chair of judges, I have loved seeing and scoring every single dish put forward by the competitors. It’s an honour to lead the judging team for such a prestigious culinary title. Generally, the standard has been very strong, and we already know that whittling them down from 40 to ten is going to be a challenge. My advice for this next stage is to really focus on telling us your own personal story so as judges we understand the creative thinking behind your dishes.”

Competition director and food innovation & sustainability director at Sodexo UK and Ireland, David Mulcahy added: “There were some highly creative styles of cooking in this first round, and it was fantastic to see chefs enter from a wide variety of sectors and backgrounds. A significant number of dishes had particularly elegant presentation with a great deal of workmanship and style. Having judged this competition for many years I feel that I have seen more creativity and innovation in the menus this year and I am already excited to see what’s presented in the next stage.”

A new panel of experts will score the semi-finals alongside Matt Abé and results from both rounds will be considered when selecting the finalists to ensure a rigorous and robust judging process.