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26th June 2024

Craft Guild names 40 chefs competing for National Chef of the Year title

Written by: Edward Waddell
The Craft Guild of Chefs has unveiled the 40 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.

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.”

The following forty chefs have received a Lafont chef’s jacket from Continental Chef Supplies (CCS) in the post which provides confirmation they have reached the next stage of the competition. The 40 chefs include:

  • Adam Fisher, head chef, Pennyhill Park Hotel
  • Ahmed Abdalla, head chef, Legacy At The Grand Hotel
  • Andrew Tabberner, chef, Bryn Williams @ Porth Eirias
  • Asen Ibrov, executive chef, Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria
  • Ben Drake, head chef, The Elephant Restaurant
  • Charlotte Vincent, head chef, The Leicester Arms, Penshurst
  • Chris Loye, chef / owner, Flavour
  • Cleverson Cordeiro, head chef, Frog by Adam Handling
  • Craig Edgell, head chef, Buoy and Oyster
  • Daniel Andree, head chef, Beach House
  • Danny Young, head chef, The Torridon, Scotland
  • Elliot Hill, executive chef, The Chester Grosvenor
  • Gary Townsend, chef owner, Elements
  • Grahame Wickham, head chef, White Hart at Fyfield
  • Iain Gourlay, head chef, Dalhousie Castle Hotel & Spa
  • Ian Wilson, Leading Catering Services (LCS), Royal Navy
  • Jamal Bendghoughi, teaching chef, Le Cordon Bleu
  • James Turner, sous chef, Hélène Darroze at the Connaught
  • Jethro Lawrence, development chef, apetito
  • Kyle Bowman, development chef, Newcastle United - Sodexo Live!
  • Lachlan Maddigan, chef de partie, Restaurant Gordon Ramsey
  • Laura Kimber, head chef, Salt
  • Lee Tyler, head chef, Meadowsweet
  • Lee Parsons, chef owner, The Parsons Table Restaurant
  • Luciano Lucioli, executive chef, Innholders' Hall - Artizian Catering
  • Marcus Ashton-Simpson, head chef, DN1 Delicatessen and Dining
  • Matt Ramsdale, head chef, Northcote
  • Murray Cooper, senior sous chef, The Forest Side
  • Nick Edgar, head chef, Hambledon Vineyard
  • Orry Shand, executive chef, Entier Ltd
  • Paul Gamble, senior brand innovation chef, Waitrose and Partners
  • Ruth Hansom Rigby, chef owner, Hansom Restaurant & Wine Bar
  • Sam Rust, chef de partie, Grove of Narberth
  • Sam Clover, chef patron, The Peacock Inn Chelsworth
  • Sergio Cinotti, chef, Gem42
  • Thomas James, development chef, Tesco
  • Tom Bennetts, head chef, Driftwood Spars
  • Tom Heywood, head chef / owner, Pignut
  • Vladimir Hromek, head chef, South Farm Ltd
  • Yann Florio, director / founder, Haute Cuisine Limited

Over the next few weeks, these 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.

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.

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, Gastronomy Plus and St Ewe.