The final at the Restaurant Show took place on the 4th October and saw Sous Chef James Devine crowned as the new National Chef of the Year 2017. James wowed the judges with his carefully selected and perfectly cooked menu of Tees Valley Rib of Beef and a soft centred chocolate and coffee tart.
James, the sous chef at restaurant Deanes Eipic talks of his delight and shock at winning such a prestigious competition and 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.”
In addition to sharing the much coveted title with some of the country’s most successful chefs, Alyn Williams, Gordon Ramsay and Mark Sargeant to name but a few, James is also the proud winner of a range of special prizes including a spectacular trip to one of the world’s top restaurants, equipment from sponsors and perhaps most exciting, the opportunity to work alongside some of the industry’s most important names.
Second and third places were awarded to Adam Thomason of Deloitte, Restaurant Associates and Charles Smith of Alyn Williams at The Mayfair in what was described as one of the toughest competitions to date. Judges, 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 had the momentous task of finding a winner amongst the line-up of talented and determined chefs with competition organiser David Mulchay commenting ‘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.”
Sharing the jubilation that evening was Ruth Hansom who was the first female chef to be awarded the Young National Chef of the Year award. Ruth, who works at The Ritz 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.” Coming in with a close second was April Lily Partridge of The Clove Club and in third was Danny Young from Northcote.
The competition has brought us many well-known chefs and 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.”
A special ceremony was held at The Restaurant Show on Tuesday 4th October in honour of all the winners and finalists. Both judges and sponsors were present and were delighted to help all contestants celebrate their achievements.