Here at Continental Chef Supplies we want to showcase the talent & skills that go into the hospitality industry, and what our fellow Chefs think is needed to entice young and impressionable people into joining the already existing expertise. Below you will find the experiences and thoughts of a couple of the NCOTY Finalists & Semi-Finalists, a chance to receive some insight into what it takes to be a Professional Chef.


How important is it to promote the UK culinary talent through competitions like NCOTY?

One of the NCOTY Finalists and Head Chef at Finnish Embassy,  Sarah-Jasmina Moussabih revealed her thoughts on competitions such as National Chef of The Year,

"Competitions are a very important and effective way to promote UK culinary talent. Through competing I have had to find new and innovative ways to present my ideas in an environment where everyone is pushing for excellence. I believe that the UK has a strong voice in global cuisine and a key component of that is in the diversity of people. Competing allows people from a wide range of backgrounds and culinary traditions to showcase their talent for expert review and honest critique."

"Sustainability, organic produce and shopping local are all very important to me and incorporating these concepts into my brief has always been a particular highlight."

Delve into our ‘Becoming More Eco-Friendly’ Article 

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NCOTY Semi-Finalist Elliot Hill from Panoramic 34, took some time to enunciate his thoughts, 

"A stereotypical Chef trait is often competitiveness, so do it on a stage with an equal platform to perform no matter what professional culinary background is incredibly important. It’s an opportunity to get recognition from some of the countries best, to promote yourselves as Chefs, to go ‘toe to toe’ with some of the industries biggest talents and to cook for industry legends is an opportunity worth more than gold."

"There’s so much hidden talent in the UK and it’s constantly getting better, this is something to be celebrated and what better way than competition."

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NCOTY Finalist, Tom Swaby shares his thoughts, 

Promoting the culinary talent through competitions like NCOTY is huge, I think more people need to see it, be aware of it. It’s judged and selected by the best chefs in this country, obviously a competition is about having a drive to win, but also being part of the whole process helps chefs development and gives confidence they may not have previously had. I think continual promotion of such competitions will bring more focus onto one of the top industry competitions out there.

tom and steve groves

What do you think is the best way for chefs to develop their skills whilst working?

NCOTY Finalist and Head Chef at Vacherin  Nick Smith, gives us an insight on how to develop your skills on the job,

"Absorbing yourself into everything, taking the time to learn your basics correctly and use these foundations to build on. Always ask questions and never be afraid to do so, this is how we progress. Learn your ingredients, the quality, taste and the peak of there season. Be prepared to experiment and make mistakes, this will make you stronger and more confident as a Chef, but most importantly always love what you do."

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Chef Sarah Jasmina shares her experience of developing your culinary skills,

"Striving to improve and learn is a trait within all good Chefs and how exactly this is achieved is down to each person individually."

"For me, it is very important to remain humble. Everyone has the potential to share something valuable and every mistake is an opportunity to improve. Having the humility to recognize these moments gives a person the ability to accept feedback and use it to better themselves for next time. I think it is important for Chefs to have an appreciation of the other roles that make up the team."

"Having a knowledge of how everyone works together will improve the Chef and push them to develop the communication skills that are vital to working kitchens."

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How can we attract young people to see hospitality as a career choice?

Chef Nick Smith gives a message out to young people considering hospitality,

"We need to teach and excite the younger generation about food, the importance of it and the rewards that can be achieved within this industry. My son has just taken food tech as an option at school, which I am super proud of. He loves cooking at home with me and I really encourage and praise him for his efforts. If we could encourage kids in the early days about food at home and in school more and what a fantastic vocation it is, we would without a doubt attract more to the hospitality industry."

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Senior Sous Chef at Roux at Parliament Square Tom Swaby, expresses his opinions, 

I think we need to tackle the attraction for hospitality as a career choice at a school level, it needs to be seen as the wonderful industry it is and not just as a second option as it so often can be seen as. I think we need to be offering realistic expectations in terms of TV sometimes playing a part in that as it’s not always as simple as being on TV and making it. It’s not all easy and it’s not for everyone but together as an industry we need to make it more appealing, we need to show the amazing sides of learning constantly, the freedom to express but also the challenge of learning and pushing which as chefs we do daily. 

tom swaby

Chef Elliot Hill shares his honesty when choosing hospitality as a career choice,

"We need to be honest as a profession. It is tough, it can feel thankless, it is long hours, it is tough on your health, your mental health & your family, and friends, it is not for everyone. It always offers so much, competitiveness, creativity, the ‘buzz’, the feeling of achievement and constant improvement, the adrenaline, the moments of inspiration and the building of character. There is so much versatility in the profession and so much reward for those who want it. The sky is the limit."

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What skills do you think are needed to get to the top in hospitality?

Chef Sarah Jasmina reveals what she thinks is needed to get to the top,

"Reaching the top of the hospitality industry can mean many things. To some it can mean the glitz of being a TV Chef, to others it can mean running their own successful restaurant and earning those elusive stars (Gain an Insight into Michelin Star Chefs ). Whatever your personal goals are, they will sacrifice. “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs” as they say, and this is especially true in the hospitality industry."

"Reaching the top can mean long hours away from loved ones and missing out on important events and risking financial security to start your own business. Success also demands persistence, courage and the confident to strive towards your goals. The hospitality industry is a crowded hour, full of great Chefs making wonderful food and so breaking through can be difficult. Making a name for yourself will mean having the persistence to not give up and the courage to make yourself heard amongst your peers."

sarah jasmina food

Chef Elliot Hill shares his thoughts on the type of skills needed,

"The best Chefs I’ve met and worked with never stop. They have sparks of inspiration, they are constantly running on the treadmill, developing, pushing the standards, and taking every element of every dish and every aspect of every kitchen and working on ways to improve it. That attitude and character of constant improvement, constant pushing and ambition is important. Focus is another, the attention to detail is so critical. Stamina and will to push on in the toughest moments and come out delivering the highest possible standard. That divergent way of thinking that’s so prevalent throughout the industry (especially on the top) is so often not mentioned and is critical to reaching the heights."

elliot hill food

As proud sponsors of the National Chef of the Year competition we wanted to tell you about an exciting opportunity for you to show your support for the industry. On the 29th and 30th September you will be able to watch the cream of chef talent battle it out for the career-changing titles of National Chef of the Year and Young National Chef of the Year. The big reveal of the winners is announced live online at 2pm on the 30th.

It is absolutely free to watch all these events but you do need to register so make sure you sign-up today, so you are all ready to tune-in. >>

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