After a gruelling two-hour cook-off in front of a packed audience at The Restaurant Show, the Craft Guild of Chefs has today revealed The National Chef of the Year 2018. Luke Selby, took the top spot after impressing over 20 judges with his starter, main course and dessert. His menu included a starter of sea vegetable minestrone, mussels and farfalle pasta served with a poached scallop, British caviar and a lemongrass scented buttermilk sauce; a main course of roasted fallow deer, blackberry, celeriac, sprouts and bacon served with a venison sauce finished with chocolate; and a dessert of warm walnut almondine, ginger infused bramley purée, caramelised cox apple filled with an apple compote with cinnamon and ginger ice cream.
Luke has been successful at major Craft Guild of Chefs events including achieving the Graduate Award in 2013, being crowned Young National Chef of the Year in 2014 and now winning the UK’s most prestigious culinary title.
Taking the second-place spot was Adam Thomason, head chef at Restaurant Associates – Deloitte and in third place was Simon Webb, head chef, Private Dining at Langham Hotel.
The National Chef of the Year is run by the Craft Guild of Chefs. To be crowned as the winner, a chef has to complete a paper entry, compete against 39 other chefs in a semi-final and impress some of the biggest names the industry has to offer in front of an eager audience at the final. Judges included Tom Kerridge, Sat Bains, Simon Rogan, Claude Bosi and Andrew Pern as well as former NCOTY winners, Simon Hulstone and Frederick Forster.
David Mulcahy, organiser of The National Chef of the Year and Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs said: “I think this year has been one of the most hotly anticipated finals we’ve seen for some time. The level of cooking was incredible and all ten finalists gave our judges a very difficult task. The reason we have The Young National Chef of the Year is so that we have a pipeline coming through for competitors who want to go on and aim for the senior competition. The Craft Guild of Chefs support chefs at every level from school to early stages of their career to special moments like we’ve witnessed today.”
Chair of judges, Gary Jones, executive chef of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons commented on the competition: “I have loved being the Chair of judges today, the competition just gets better every year and it truly is an incredible event. The National Chef of the Year is brilliant for the industry and everyone involved are great ambassadors in showing the skills today’s chefs bring to hospitality. We had some young judges involved this year and they worked alongside the more experienced, established judges, and it has been very successful. The way Luke Selby is so focused is unique for such a young guy and it is a huge achievement to win both young and senior titles.”
Talking about his win today, Luke Selby said: “I am speechless. The National Chef of the Year is such a fantastic competition. I wasn’t expecting it at all and I’m blown away that I’ve now won both competitions. I’ve been practising every single day for the last few weeks so am looking forward to celebrating and then getting some rest.”
As well as that all-important title of ‘The National Chef of the Year’, the winner will claim a whole host of incredible prizes. This includes his own recipe book and media training session from KNORR; an all-expenses paid trip to Mexico courtesy of Lockhart Catering; two days in Switzerland to take their exclusive place at The Nespresso Chef Academy Training Programme; an exclusively designed and framed winners plate and medal as well as an additional prize of £500 worth of Churchill product; the opportunity to design their own chocolate in the Cacao Barry Or Noir lab, which they will then receive for their own use, and one year of membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs.
Le Cordon Bleu London is also offering the winner a guest chef appearance and the chance to showcase their skills to students, and invited guests, at the prestigious London culinary school. Petrus is giving a meal for two at the restaurant and a one-week work placement to the top three chefs.
There was more exciting news from The Restaurant Show as Danny Young, junior sous chef from Northcote Manor was revealed as The Young National Chef of the Year winner. Danny has finished in second and third place in the YNCOTY competition over the last two years showing that determination and perseverance pays off. Arthur Bridgeman Quin, junior sous chef at The Punchbowl Inn was announced in second place and Thomas Reeves, chef de partie at L’Enclume was confirmed in third.
Danny cooked a starter of Norwegian haddock, salt & vinegar black peas; a main course of potato crisps, dashi “Caviar”; rare breed miso beef, oriental mushrooms, crispy kale, coriander; and a dessert of warm orchard apple syrup sponge and Horlicks ice cream.
Commenting on his achievement, Danny Young said: “To be honest, it’s not really sunk in yet. This is the third time I have competed in The Young National Chef of the Year and I’ve worked so hard over the last few months to develop my skills.”
Danny will receive a stage to the value of £2,500 courtesy of KNORR; Norwegian Seafood Council will arrange for them to join Michel Roux Jr for the culinary trip of a lifetime to Norway; Churchill are teaming up with Nigel Haworth and Northcote Manor to provide the winner with the ultimate gastronomic experience at the 2018 Obsession event; and one year’s membership to the Craft Guild of Chef’s will be gifted.
Mark Sargeant, Young National Chef of the Year ambassador said: “It’s been an exciting and close final, and the future of the industry is in safe hands with these chefs. Something that really stands out to me today is seeing previous winners of this competition battling it out in the senior final and of course, Luke Selby going on to win it is the icing on the cake for YNCOTY. Winning this title is simply the start of what will be a long and successful culinary career and I’ll certainly be following Danny Young over the coming years to see where this title takes them.”
Daniela Tucci, from The Art School in Liverpool was announced as the winner of the Churchill ‘People’s Choice’ Award for exceptional presentation of the main course. This year the prize had a couple of new twists. For the first time, it went across both competitions – seeing the young chef’s dishes compete with those in the senior competition. The award also went to the best dish rather than the competitor with the most votes across all courses. Ultimately providing a winning dish, based on the food presentation.
You can continue to follow the story of the competitions on Twitter with @Craft_Guild and #NCOTY and #YNCOTY and on the website at www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk.