The finalists for this year's prestigious National Chef of the Year competition have been announced.
The 10 finalists, who will compete at the now annual competition's final next month, were selected from a total of 40 chefs after competing at four semi-final cook-offs held at Westminster Kingsway College in London last week.
They include former Roux Scholar Hrishikesh Desai, head chef at the Brasserie at Lucknam Park Hotel in Wiltshire; Young Spanish Chef of the Year winner Selin Kiazim, senior chef de partie at the Providores in London; and Adam Bennett, head chef at Simpsons Restaurant in Birmingham.
In a first in the 20-year history of the competition, organiser the Craft Guild of Chefs this year introduced categories concentrating on a different type of cuisine to encourage more ethnic diversity. The categories included Asian and Oriental; modern British and Irish; European; and African, American and Australian.
The judging panel was made up of 15 high-calibre chefs including John Campbell, director of cuisine, food and beverage at Coworth Park; Cyrus Todiwala, chef-patron, Café Spice Namaste; Henry Brosi, executive chef at the Dorchester; and Simon Young, executive chef, Jumeirah Carlton Tower.
David Mulcahy, director of competitions for the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: "All 40 semi-finalists competed to a very high standard this year, embracing the key changes made to the competition with the introduction of new categories highlighting the ethnic diversity of the marketplace."
Andrew Bennett, executive chef at the Sheraton Park Lane hotel and chair of the judging panel, added: "The dishes that were served up within the two hours allowed were a true testament to the new direction we've been hoping to take the competition this year. As a panel of judges we were treated to a mouth-watering display of talent and I can't wait to see how this will come through at the final."
The 10 finalists will now go through to the final cook-off, which will take place at this year's Restaurant Show at London's Earl's Court on 11 October.
Simon Hulstone, chef-proprietor of the Michelin-starred Elephant in Torquay, Devon, was the last winner of the title. Previous winners include Gordon Ramsay, Roger Narbett and Eyck Zimmer.
The finalists are:
Hrishikesh Desai, head chef, Brasserie at Lucknam Park Hotel, Wiltshire
Imthiaz Kader, head chef, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London
Frederick Forster, head chef, 44 Restaurant and Lounge, Hornchurch, Essex
Adam Bennett, head chef, Simpsons Restaurant, Birmingham
Simon Christery-French, sous chef, Pearl Restaurant, London
Clark Crawley, head chef, Restaurant Associates
>Justin Galea, executive sous chef, Turnberry, Ayrshire
Richard Edwards, senior sous chef, Lucknam Park Hotel, Wiltshire
Selin Kiazim, senior chef de partie, the Providores, London
Martin Nisbet, head chef, Angelus Restaurant, London
By Kerstin Kühn
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