Hrishikesh Desai from Lucknam Park Hotel in Bath has been named the National Chef of the Year 2010 following a final cook-off held at The Restaurant Show today.
Desai, who created a menu of Fillet of Bream with Tomato, Aubergine and Mussel Salad with Crispy Calamari, Breast and Tortellini of Duck with Celeriac Cream and Apple Chutney, and Extra Bitter Chocolate Tart with Raspberry Cardamon Salad and Yoghurt Sorbet, represented the Asian/ Oriental category, a new addition to the competition format this year.
He wins a £2k cash prize, an Electrolux Professional kitchen, a selection of Robert Welch knives and a trip to Dubai amongst other prizes.
Adam Bennett from Simpsons Restaurant in Edgbaston and Frederick Forster from 44 Restaurant and Lounge in London placed second and third respectively.
This year the finalists were given just two hours to present a three-course meal for four covers – an hour shorter than previous competitions.
Chairman of judges Andrew Bennett said the new format for the final had given the competitors a more “realistic environment” in which to work.
“I think the two hours generated a really exciting atmosphere in the theatre,” he said. “The final standard was exceptional; there was generally a good balance of flavours and techniques, and the consistency amongst all three courses was very high.”
Desai takes the title from current National Chef of the Year Simon Hulstone, who returned this year as a judge.
He said: “It’s been a fantastic two years and it’s time to hand over my title. Hrishikesh proved himself to be the clear winner. I hope he benefits as much from winning this competition as I have.”
Despite Desai’s win, Bennett said he was disappointed that he and Imthiaz Kader, the two competitors within the category, did not stay true to their cuisine.
“There were some Asian influences in there but not as much as we’d like to have seen,” he said.
Desai collected his awards at the National Restaurant Awards this evening, the results of which will be announced later.