Forest Side Chef through to finals of The National Chef of the Year

The Craft Guild of Chefs has announced the ten chefs from across the country who will compete in the UK’s most prestigious and respected culinary contest, The National Chef of the Year.

Among this year’s crop of finalist’s is our very own Senior Sous Chef Martin Frickel, who is following in the footsteps of some highly esteemed chefs… notable previous winners since the start of the contest in 1972, include Gordon Ramsay, Alyn Williams and Mark Sargeant, to name a few.

Each these luminaries have witnessed how this prestigious title helps fast-track a career and helps put the winner firmly on the culinary map. This year is certainly no exception, as once again the competition has turned a significant spotlight on to the talent to be found in the UK’s kitchens, so as you can imagine we’ve got everything crossed for Martin.

The final 10 chefs were selected following a series of cook-offs at Sheffield College and Le Cordon Bleu, with four heat winners and six runners-up impressing the judges.

The heat winners are: Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle, Edinburgh; George Blogg from Gravetye Manor, West Sussex; Glenn Evans from Las Iguanas; and Liam Fauchard-Newman who works for Rhubarb. They will be joined by the six chefs who received the next highest scores across all four heats.

They are: our own Martin Frickel from the Forest Side, Cumbria; David Neilson from Number One at the Balmoral, Edinburgh; Nick Smith from Harbour & Jones; Kuba Winkowski from the Feathered Nest Country Inn, Oxfordshire; Stefan Sewell from the Combined Services Culinary Arts Team; and Thomas Westerland from Lucknam Park, Chippenham, Wiltshire.

Before the final, all ten chefs will take part in a Mentor Day on Tuesday, 11th September where the mystery basket of ingredients will be revealed. The final will take place at the Restaurant Show on Tuesday 2 October with judges including; Tom Kerridge, Clare Smyth, Philip Howard, Ollie Dabbous and Mark Flanagan.

Forest Side’s Martin Frickel, said: ‘’I’m hugely humbled and excited to make it through to the final ten, the level of cooking on display was simply awesome and a real credit to everyone involved in the process so far. For my part it’s been a tough and emotional journey, but that said I can’t wait to see what has been lined up for us in the final part of this prestigious competition. Good luck to everyone taking part.’’

Gary Jones, executive chef from Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons and chair of the judges, said: “Some of the cooking has been exceptional which made it a challenge for the judges to whittle 40 chefs down to just 10. What really stood out for me was how much the finalists listened to the brief this year and focused on the sourcing of their ingredients, considered seasonality when planning their menus, as well as showcasing their creativity and innovation. It’s set to be one of our most exciting finals yet and I can’t wait to judge it in October.”

Craft Guild of Chefs vice-president David Mulcahy added: “It wasn’t an easy brief this year with a vegetarian starter thrown into the mix and a very classic dessert brought in to truly test each chef’s culinary skills. However, the semi-finalists really embraced the challenge when putting together their menus. We saw a real variety of menus and this showed the diverse range of chefs we had from all sectors of hospitality.”