Competition is now intensifying in the race to be crowned National Chef of the Year, as the semi-finals drew to a close and the finalists were announced.Having already whittled down 150 entrants to just 40 semi-finalists, things really got hot in the kitchen as each aspiring candidate had just two hours in their semi-final heat to impress a veritable selection of the finest chefs in the country who were acting as judges.
Each chef-competitor was tasked with creating a three course lunch menu for four guests in the set time period:
- Starter of fresh pasta
- Main course using a whole Sea Bass and appropriate accompaniments
- Dessert tart
The finished dishes were judged on the technical skills demonstrated in creating the pasta and pastry tart from scratch and the filleting of the sea bass, alongside other important factors such as the seasonality and provenance of ingredients, balance of flavour, wastage & sustainability, and adherence to criteria.
There was some truly inspiring cooking taking place, with nerves aplenty as the judges completed their tasting. When the judges came on stage to announce the finalists, the tension in the room was palpable.
We’ve picked out some highlights from competitors Adam Handling and Lawrence McCarthy:
Adam Handling’s dishes
Lawrence McCarthy’s dishes
After much deliberation, the eight lucky finalists were revealed as:
- Andrew Ditchfield, pastry chef, House of Commons
- Paul Foster, head chef, Mallory Court
- Adam Handling, head chef, Adam Handling at Caxton
- Mark Kempson, head chef, Kitchen W8
- Luciano Lucioli, head chef, Marks & Spencer Headquarters (Lusso – CH&Co)
- Lawrence McCarthy, sous chef, the Ledbury restaurant
- Martin Carabott, sous chef, the Royal Automobile Club
- Larry Jayasekara, sous chef, Gordon Ramsay Group
As proud sponsors of the event, we’re already looking forward to the final, which will be held on Tuesday 6 October at The Restaurant Show in Olympia, London.
Here the finalists will have just two hours to create a three course meal with the ingredients soon to be revealed in their mystery basket!
Our very own Chef Director Chris Holland will be a mentor for one of the finalists, and will join them on Mentor Day on Tuesday, 15th September at Knorr Kitchen, Leatherhead.
Watch this space for more news on the day, and the preparations taking place for the final!