The Craft Guild of Chefs has revealed the 10 chefs who will battle it out for the National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) title at The Restaurant Show in October.
The finalists include 2013 Young National Chef of the Year 2013 winner and L'Enclume sous chef, Ben Champkin, who won the first heat in Sheffield, and David Davey-Smith, a chef from Royal Air Force Worthy Down, won the second heat which took place at Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London today.
Joining the four chefs in the final are six runners-up who scored the highest points across all four heats. They are 2017 Acorn Award winner Dean Westcar, head chef at Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park, 2017 Roux Scholar Luke Selby, head chef at Dabbous, Simon Webb, head chef at Restaurant Associates, Kuba Winkowski, head chef at the Feathered Nest Inn, 2009 Acorn Award winner Will Holland, head chef at Coast Restaurant, and Adam Thomason, head chef at Restaurant Associates - Deloitte.
NCOTY chair of judges and executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Gary Jones, said: "Chefs should not underestimate what they have all achieved here today. This is the very best cooking competition in the UK and to be selected to be part of the semi-final is an honour. The energy, commitment and quality has been impressive from all our competitors and those that have reached the final really are at the top of their game.
"One thing we have worked hard to push as a competition is avoiding wastage and it's something we've noticed that the chefs have focused on both at the paper entry stage and semi-finals. I would urge those that did not get through to use the experience as a positive and come back even stronger next year."
David Mulcahy, vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the competition, added: "What has been interesting this year is hearing the stories behind the menu creation, ingredient sourcing and inspiration for the dishes. The relationship between the chefs and what and why they produced each dish has really stood out for me this year. For example, we've noticed the difference in dishes coming from different areas of the country showing the importance of sourcing and seasonality.
"There has been so much positivity around this year's brief of vegetarian starter, duck and cherry main course and classic tart and the chefs have truly risen to this challenge."
As well as competing in the National Chef of the Year final, the chefs will also attend a mentor day on 5 September where they will be presented with a mystery basket of ingredients to be used in the final.
The 10 NCOTY finalists are:
•Ben Champkin, sous chef, L'Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
•David Davey-Smith, chef, Royal Air Force Worthy Down
•Will Holland, head chef, Coast restaurant, Saundersfoot
•Karl O'Dell, senior sous chef, Petrus, London
•Luke Selby, head chef, Dabbous, London
•Adam Thomason, head chef, Restaurant Associates - Deloitte
•Simon Webb, head chef, Restaurant Associates
•Dean Westcar, head chef, Restaurant Hywel Jones, Lucknam Park, Colerne, Wiltshire
•Thomas Westerland, sous chef, Lucknam Park
•Kuba Witkowski, head chef, the Feathered Nest Inn, Nether Westcote, Oxfordshire
In addition to the NCOTY announcement, the young chefs going forward for the Young National Chef of the Year (YNCOTY) final were also revealed.
Heat winners Danny Young from Northcote in Langho, Lancashire, and Henry Wadsworth from Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons will be joined by the five highest-scoring young chefs from both the London and Sheffield heats.
These were Arthur Bridgeman Quin from the Punchbowl Inn in Crosthwaite, Kendal, Daniela Tucci from the Art School restaurant in Liverpool, Thomas Reeves from L'Enclume, Alex Walker from 21 Hospitality Group and Jacob Gosselin from Highlands Academy of Culinary Arts.
They join Amber Francis, highest achiever in the Craft Guild of Chefs' Graduate Awards who is apprentice chef at the Ritz in London and Frances Attwood from Simpsons restaurant in Birmingham who won the British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year.
The final place will be awarded to the winner of the Academy of Culinary Arts' Awards of Excellence, which will be announced in July.
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