Following a tense final at the Restaurant Show on 4th October, James Devine has been announced as the new National Chef of the Year for 2017. James, who is Sous Chef at Deanes Eipic, triumphed in the UK’s most prestigious culinary competition with a winning menu featuring Tees Valley Rib of Beef and a soft centered chocolate & coffee tart. Taking a close second was Adam Thomason of Deloitte, Restaurant Associates and in third place was Charles Smith of Alyn Williams at The Mayfair.
Delighted with his win, James Devine commented: “I’m honoured, I never expected to win or to come this far. Today went well for me, I kept calm and was pleased with the way all my dishes came out. Each dish was something I’d happily eat or serve up. Right now, I feel humbled and very excited at the same time.”
As the winner, James Devine is now part of the National Chef of the Year ‘Hall of Fame’, which represents culinary excellence and offers the chance to meet and work with some of the most exciting industry names. He also wins a range of special prizes including a once-in-a-lifetime trip to one of the world’s top restaurants, stagiaire opportunities, equipment from sponsors and chocolate workshops. Best of all, having won the life-changing title, James now has the chance to follow in the footsteps of some the country’s most successful chefs, such as Alyn Williams, Gordon Ramsay and Mark Sargeant who have all previously held the title.
This year’s competition was one of the toughest yet, with an incredible list of high profile judges to impress, including Daniel Doherty – Group Executive Chef for Duck & Waffle Restaurants, Gary Jones – Executive Head Chef at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Claude Bosi – Chef Patron at Hibiscus and many more.
David Mulcahy, the competition organiser and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs commented on this year’s final: “What an amazing final we’ve just witnessed. Looking at the chefs lined-up before it kicked off, I knew it was going to be close but these ten chefs gave the judges a difficult task. This year’s basket of ingredients was a real challenge and meant that we saw some amazing dishes. Today’s winner presented an excellent starter, main course and dessert.”
He continued: “Congratulations to James. He thoroughly deserved to take this title and this will be a career-defining and life-changing moment for him. The NCOTY competition began back in January so over the last nine months all ten finalists have had one clear goal in mind…winning the most prestigious title in the UK culinary calendar.”
Clare Smyth MBE, Chairman of Judges added: “After the level of cooking I’ve witnessed this afternoon, I couldn’t be more honoured to be Chair of judges for NCOTY. All finalists rose to the challenge and delivered delicious plates of food. It’s not easy cooking for these judges, many of whom are our finalists’ idols, but it’s so important to remain calm and hold your nerve. Although it was a tough decision, we had a clear winner in the end and some really stand out dishes that could be served up in any restaurant.”
The evening saw more exciting news with the announcement of Ruth Hansom from The Ritz as the first female Young National Chef of the Year. The competition, which has kick-started the careers of many of today’s industry stars, was closely fought with a high standard of entries from all young chefs. Second place was awarded to April Lily Partridge of The Clove Club and in third was Danny Young from Northcote.
Commenting on her achievement, Ruth Hansom said: “I can’t put into words how amazing it feels, I’m so happy to have won. I’ve come second in the past and knew that I really wanted to win this year.”
Young National Chef of the Year Ambassador, Mark Sargeant commented: “Today’s competition was incredibly close, especially between the top three but Ruth really stood out with all her dishes. The advice we gave the young chefs was to create a dish that’s simple, flavoursome and well-presented and that’s exactly what we saw from her. It’s absolutely fantastic to have our first ever female Young National Chef of the Year.”
He continued “I couldn’t be any prouder of what all ten finalists did today. They were confident, calm and we saw some fantastic culinary skills demonstrated by chefs who are so early into their careers. It’s always great to follow these chefs through their careers and I’ve got no doubt that in a few years’ time some of these chefs are going to be competing on the senior stage.”
All of the finalists and winners celebrated their achievements in a ceremony at The Restaurant Show on Tuesday 4th October, with judges and sponsors on hand to offer their congratulations.
For more information on the competition and details on the entry process, visit the new National Chef of the Year website at www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk.