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7th March 2024

Matt Abé reveals brief for National Chef of the Year as competition opens for entry

Written by: Edward Waddell
Following the announcement that Matt Abé is the new chair of judges for National Chef of the Year, his brief for this year’s competition has been unveiled. This year the criteria focuses on demonstrating excellent culinary skills across all disciplines, the creative use of local and global sustainable ingredients as well as the avoidance of any unnecessary food waste.

Chefs should celebrate and support excellent food producers through their competition entry, showcasing both simple and high-quality ingredients, elevating them to produce excellent dishes. Professional chefs from all ethnic and gender backgrounds are invited to submit an entry to one of the UKs longest running and most prestigious competitions.

Competitors are required to produce a three-course celebration menu for two covers within three hours. This extended cook-off time was one of Matt’s first big changes to the competition as he wanted to give all chefs longer to create three courses to enable them to produce their finest work. 

Entries are now open and chefs can go online to register. Once they have registered, they will then be kept informed throughout the entry process with any FAQs and deadline reminders. Chefs will have until Friday 10th May 2024 to complete their entries. 

Matt Abé, chef patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, said: “Entering National Chef of the Year is a great experience for chefs to really push themselves and test their own ability, as well as against their peers in the industry. Obviously, we are looking for the next winner but winning is not everything with this competition as there is so much to experience at whatever stage you get to.

“Simply knowing some of the best chefs we have here in the UK will get to see your dishes and give you honest feedback is a great reason to enter. Those who do get to the final will meet so many incredible chefs. Who knows what doors this opportunity could open for you in the future.”

The theme for the starter is ‘This is me'. Chefs are asked to create a fish, seafood or vegetarian dish that reflects their own identity and unique personality. This is an opportunity for chefs to showcase their true self on a plate considering ethnicity, heritage, background influences and even the environment where they grew up. 

A lamb dish is required for the main course using two cuts of lamb from a series of alternatives. It should be suitably garnished and capable of being cooked within the extended three-hour period.

The dish must make use of ingredients, techniques and cooking styles that bring the very best from the lamb dish. Judges will want to see how the lamb element is elevated using relevant complementary and seasonal ingredients, flavours, textures and techniques.

The menu will be completed with a chocolate finale. Competitors are required to produce a warm or cold chocolate dessert that showcases the flavours of Valrhona Chocolate. The dishes flavour is all about the nuances and flavours of the grand crus. Competitors must showcase chocolate as the focal point of the dessert, and it must complement the rest of the menu.

Once the entry has closed 40 semi-finalists will be selected for the next stage by Matt Abé and his panel of judges and these will be revealed on Wednesday 26th June. Ten finalists will be selected to cook their original entry on Tuesday 8th October.

Competition director and food innovation & sustainability director at Sodexo UK and Ireland, David Mulcahy added: “This is always an incredibly exciting time as we begin the search for the next title holder who will follow in the footsteps of recent winners, Alex Angelogiannis and Ben Murphy.

“Imagine having the opportunity to cook for world-renowned chef, Matt Abé and his judging team and consider what this could do for your career. Winning NCOTY could literally be life-changing, not only with the prestige and glory it brings, but with an exciting array of prizes and PR opportunities on offer too.”

Register today and start your entry at

Essential Cuisine and Lumina are headline partners of National Chef of the Year, which is also supported by Churchill, Continental Chef Supplies (CCS), Evolve Group, Hallgarten & Novum Wines, Valrhona, Classic Fine Foods and Sous Vide Tools.