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National Chef of the Year & Young National Chef of the Year 2017: Winners Announced

National Chef of the Year & Young National Chef of the Year 2017: Winners Announced inploi Team | 07.10.2016

Winners of the National Chef of the Year (NCOTY) and Young National Chef of the Year (YNCOTY) award have been announced as James Devine, Sous Chef at EIPIC, Belfast and Ruth Hansom, Apprentice chef at The Ritz, London.

On the evening of Tuesday 4th October, friends and family of the UK’s top restaurant talent eagerly awaited the announcement of this year’s National Chef of the Year. Organised by The Craft Guild of Chefs and sponsored by Knorr, the competition has been running for 44 years, showcasing the country’s top culinary talent. The Young National Chef of the Year award was also recently introduced for 18-23 year olds, running alongside the NCOTY, to discover the nation’s rising stars. 10 finalists were selected to compete in the finals, held at The Restaurant Show at Olympia, London from 3rd-5th October 2016.

NCOTY 2017 Finalists

Danny Parker, Head chef - House of Tides, Newcastle

Martin Carabott, Senior sous chef - The Royal Automobile Club, London

Adam Thomason, Head chef - Restaurant Associates

Charles Smith, Head chef - Alyn Williams at The Westbury, London

Liam McKenna, Head chef - Trump International

James Devine, Sous chef - EIPIC, Belfast

Paul Foster, Chef patron - Salt

Stephanie Coupland, Chef de partie - Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London

Luciano Lucioli, Head chef - Lusso (CH&Co Group)

Kamil Wierzbowski, Sous chef - Petrus, London

YNCOTY 2017 Finalists

April Lily Partridge -  The Clove Club, London

Arthur Bridgeman Quin - The Punchbowl Inn, Lyth Valley

Daniela Tucci - The Art School Restaurant, Merseyside

Danny Young - Northcote Manor, Lancashire

Drew Snaith - Brunswick House, London

Ruth Hansom - The Ritz, London

Jonathan Ferguson - Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Perthshire

Reece Cosier - Landmark Hotel, London

Joel Gueller - Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxfordshire

Nicolle Finnie - The Larder, Glasgow

For both competitions, the finalists were given guidelines for each course, having to create a three-course menu in the space of two hours. Their dishes were then judged by a panel of elite chefs, chaired by Clare Smyth MBE (Former Chef patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey and the only female chef in the UK to have been awarded and able to retain 3 Michelin stars). YNCOTY 2016 winner, Danny Hoang (former Westminster Kingsway graduate) also attended the event, having gained a new position at Momofoku Ko in New York, since winning the title.

First to be announced was the YNCOTY, where finalists were asked to make a menu consisting of “an autumnal vegetable-inspired starter, a fish dish using sustainable Norwegian trout, and a flourless chocolate cake” (Source: The Caterer). In third place was Danny Young, Junior Sous Chef at Northcote in Lancashire. In second, a tearful but exalted April Lily Partridge, who currently works at The Clove Club in Shoreditch, London. And in first place, Young National Chef of the Year 2017 was awarded to Ruth Hansom, a current apprentice at The Ritz, London, and the first female chef to win the award.

YNCOTY Ruth Hansom’s Menu:


Autumn Vegetable Salad with a chicken liver panna cotta


Norwegian fjord trout, smoked eel and horseradish tortellini, accompanied by roast beetroot, sea vegetables and an orange dressing


Flourless chocolate cake, accompanied by a chocolate semi-freddo and malt mousseline, chocolate roasted peanuts and caramelised banana

This announcement was closely followed by that for the National Chef of the Year 2017. Third place was awarded to Charles Smith, Head Chef at Alyn Williams at the Westbury, London (a former YNCOTY champion). In second place was Adam Thomason, Head Chef of the Restaurant Associates at Deloitte. And first place was awarded to James Devine, Sous Chef at EIPIC in Belfast.

NCOTY James Devine’s Menu:


Tortellini, roast chicken, butternut squash and sage velouté


Tees Valley rib of beef, with braised puy lentils and watercress


Soft-centred chocolate and coffee tart, accompanied by a passion fruit curd

The Craft Guild of Chefs’ National Chef of the Year award is seen as the most prestigious of its kind in the industry, reflected in the number of Michelin-accredited chefs that have previously won and continue to take part as judges in each annual competition. As the competition host professed, if there had been a targeted attack at the event, Michelin would pretty much have to re-write their whole guide! However, such a gathering also exemplified the importance and respect the competition has garnered over the years, with previous winners including Michelin-starred chefs Gordon Ramsey, Alyn Williams and Mark Sargeant.

We would like to congratulate all the chefs who competed in this year’s competition. Each year the format of the competition changes, raising the bar; and the standard of this year’s competition was fiercely impressive. Final congratulations once again to this year’s champions, Ruth Hansom and James Devine. We are looking forward to seeing more successes from you in the future.

Enjoy this article? Read our interview with The Craft Guild of Chef's Vice President, David Mulcahy to learn more about competitions in the cheffing world and how you can get involved.

About the author: Victoria Bushnell is Head of Marketing/PR at inploi.

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