The Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year 2020 is Steve Groves, head chef at Roux at Parliament Square, who competed earlier today with nine other chefs in a live two-hour cook-off for the prestigious award.
On receiving the award Groves was elated saying: “I am delighted, relieved and surprised. It was hard work and those two hours went by in the blink of an eye, but I focused on the flavours of the dish. I am incredibly pleased to win this title and I can’t wait to celebrate with my team, who I couldn’t have done this without.”
Groves delivered a menu of red mullet, shellfish mousse and bouillabaisse sauce, followed by a main course of suckling pig, Jerusalem artichokes, quince, hazelnut and trompettes with Calvados Baba, honey poached pears and creme fraiche Chantilly for dessert.
The ten finalists had two hours to create three courses for the judges. Gary Jones, executive head chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, led a team of 19 judges who helped him find the winner. The judges included Clare Smyth, Claude Bosi, Phillip Howard, Simon Hulstone and Alyn Williams.
Jones said of the judging: “We’ve seen some amazing cooking today. What stood out for me about Steve was his good, strong, clean flavours. He didn’t over complicate his menu and approached the brief well resulting in beautiful flavours. When it came to the main course, he served-up the best crackling in the room and I was salivating just looking at it.”
Competition organiser David Mulcahy and chair of judges Jones focussed this year’s brief on sustainability and seasonality. Finalists were tasked to create a bouillabaisse style flavoured starter using under-utilised fish.
For the main course, chefs had to use cuts of suckling pig with the opportunity to pre-cook one element of the pig prior to the competition (as long as it was no more than 20% of the final dish). Finally, chefs were asked to create a dessert using seasonal pears, which showcased technical skill, balance and maximum flavour.
On 10 September 2019 the ten finalists had a mentor day at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium where they selected their ingredients for the final from a mystery basket. This year chefs had to order the volume of food they wanted, and they were partly marked on the amount of food waste they produced.
Vice-president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, Mulcahy who planned and organised the competition went on to say: “What an amazing final we’ve seen today! Firstly, congratulations to Steve Groves who has done an incredible job and now becomes a true ambassador for our industry. When you take this title, it’s about more than what you have cooked today as the chefs who have won previously are still some of the most talked about figures in hospitality.
“Each year, we make sure that the competition is truly relevant to today’s diners and is addressing industry trends whilst putting all our finalists firmly on the map. It’s known as the hardest culinary competition in the UK which is why this title is so sought-after and the one competition every chef wants to win.”
The runner-up spot was taken by Derek Johnstone, head chef from Borthwick Castle with Nick Smith, head chef at Vacherin placing in third.
H&C News would like to congratulate Steve Groves and all the chefs that competed