The annual contest, now in its fifth decade, aims to recognise the rising culinary stars in the UK and is awarded to a chef that excels in skill and passion. This year's winner will be joining an elite list of former winners including Simon Hulstone, Mark Sargeant, Gordon Ramsay and last year's champion - Alyn Williams.
"Winning the title The National Chef of the Year was one of the most significant achievements within my career,” said Williams. “I now have high hopes of the opportunities that will come as a result of winning the title.”
Interested chefs must now present their ideas for a three-course lunch menu for four people before Friday 19 April in order to enter the paper judging which will take place in May. 40 lucky participants will be invited to compete in one of three semi-finals in June and July before the grand final at The Restaurant Show in October.
Since 2010, the multicultural nature of the industry has been recognised with the contest divided into three cooking style categories - Asian/Oriental, Modern British/European and Rest of the World. David Mulcahy, organiser of the competition and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said he was hoping diversity would once again be celebrated this year.
“We’d like to see chefs from all different backgrounds enter the competition and have a fantastic team of ambassadors to help achieve this aim. Joining chairman of judges Philip Howard, we have Angela Hartnett, chef proprietor of Murano, Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar and myself, who all hope to make this year’s competition the best one yet," he said, adding that the contest can enhance a chef's career prospects.