The Top Ten: National Chef of the Year 2021 Finalists Announced

The top ten finalists have been revealed for the National Chef of the Year 2021 competition with the talented chefs battling it out next month to be the overall winner.


Despite the early stages of the competition being affected by COVID-19 with the semi-final unable to take place, it has not stopped The Craft Guild of Chefs on their search for the UK’s most talented chef.  The finalists were selected by taking into consideration the marks from both the entry stage and the dishes which summed them up in just two to three bites.


The final cook-off is set to take place on 7 September at Le Cordon Bleu, London and the format for the final has been reinvented with the streaming of an hour-long show during Hospitality Week that offers insights into how chefs have navigated this challenging year.


To be named the best, the chefs will have to impress judges Paul Ainsworth, chef patron at Paul Ainsworth Collection, Clare Smyth MBE, chef patron at Core by Clare Smyth, Niall Keating, executive chef at Whatley Manor and Claude Bosi from Bibendum Restaurant in Chelsea.


Organiser of the competition, David Mulcahy, said: “There is no doubt that finding a way to make sure the National Chef of the Year competition could still go ahead has been challenging. But as organisers, we have always remained determined to ensure the competition’s heritage could be maintained and that the industry had a positive success story to come out of this.”


Chair of judges, Paul Ainsworth added “My decision to ask the chefs to create a dish that summed them up in just a few simple bites was to help me learn more about the chefs and their style of cooking. I wanted to see great plates of food that showed skill, creativity and innovation but also each chef’s passion and determination to take the top spot. This additional round gave us so much insight and inspiration to help us find that all important top ten.


The finalists hoping to take the top spot are:

  • Derek Johnstone, head chef, Borthwick Castle, East Lothian
  • Fraser Bruce, head chef, Fraser Bruce @ The Fish Shed, St Ives
  • Nathan Cornwell, head chef, The Barn at Moor Hall, Ormskirk
  • Sarah-Jasmina Moussabih, head chef, Finnish Embassy, London
  • Marcin Pomierny, head chef, The Maids Head Hotel Limited, Norwich
  • April Lily Partridge, chef, The Ledbury, London
  • Nick Smith, head chef, Vacherin / Ashurst, London
  • Dominic South, head chef, Corinthia Hotel, London
  • Ben Drake, senior sous chef, The Elephant by Simon Hulstone, Torquay
  • Thomas Swaby, senior sous chef, Roux At Parliament Square, London

The winner will be crowned on 30 September. Tune in by following the Craft Guild of Chefs social media channels or visiting