He replaces Gary Jones, executive head chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, who has led the team for the past three years.
The Guild regularly changes its chair, who is encouraged to put their own spin on the contest.
Ainsworth is chef patron of the Paul Ainsworth Collection hospitality group in Cornwall, which also runs a training academy with Truro and Penwith College.
“The full brief [for NCOTY] will be revealed next month but I’ll be going back to basics so that all the chefs need to think about is making food that is truly delicious and showcases their own style, skill and flair,” says Ainsworth, who has been on the judging panel in the past.
NCOTY is considered one of the UK's toughest culinary competitions, and previous winners include Gordon Ramsay, Mark Sargeant and Luke Selby.
This year's competition opens for online entry next month. Follow @Craft_Guild on Twitter for updates.