During an Instagram Live on the Craft Guild of Chefs channel earlier today, renowned chefs Paul Ainsworth and David Mulcahy revealed this year’s National Chef of the Year finalists. Whittled down from 33 to just twelve, the finalists now go on to cook at CORD by Le Cordon Bleu. The final will be aired at a VIP red-carpet premiere on the 21st of October.

The twelve chefs who have made it through to the final are:

• Marc Billings, head chef, Prestwold Hall and Hall Barns at Prestwold, Leicestershire 
• Ben Boeynaems, executive chef, The Beaumont Hotel, London 
Ross Brown, chef de partie, BaxterStorey, London
• Iain Gourlay, head chef, Cringletie House Hotel, Scottish Borders 
• Elliot Hill, head chef, Panoramic 34, Liverpool 
 Christopher Niven, executive chef, Marine North Berwick, East Lothian
Russell Plowman, senior sous chef, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Perthshire
• Stefan Sewell, head chef, RAF, Suffolk 
• Jack Shaw, head chef, Lexington Catering/ Savills, London 
• Adam Smith, sous chef, Gravetye Manor, Sussex 
• Thomas Swaby, head chef, Inverlochy Castle, Fort William 
• Gary Townsend, head chef, 1 Devonshire Gardens, Glasgow

The finalists will serve up their original menus from the entry stage which allowed each chef to tell their story of the pandemic through food. Menus will include a vegetarian starter incorporating ingredients on the KNORR® Future 50 Foods list. These ingredients have been identified with the support of the WWF as having a positive impact on the environment, by improving the diversity of the crops we consume as well as having excellent nutritional credentials. The main course focuses on supporting British suppliers on land and at sea with a dish incorporating both meat and fish, whilst desserts should reflect the start of the pandemic, when ingredients were sparse, and households turned to baking for comfort.

Chair of Judges, Paul Ainsworth said: “What a final we’ve got ahead of us with this incredible top twelve! There have been some truly creative and delicious looking dishes demonstrated in the first two stages of the competition and we can’t wait to taste them in the next round. This is the UK’s toughest culinary competition and any chef who puts themself forward in these challenging times deserves the utmost respect and recognition. I’m so honoured to support these twelve chefs as the Chair of Judges and can’t wait to find the next winner. That chef is certain to go down in history with their winning menu reflecting the toughest times our industry has ever faced.”

You can support the chefs in the final by watching the live streaming on Thursday, 21st October, 2021. Look out for updates on www.nationalchefoftheyear.co.uk and the Craft Guild of Chefs social media channels.