Nick Smith is not only the newly crowned Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year, he is also the second chef from the contract catering sector to win the title in the competition’s 48-year history.
Working as head chef at the London office of global law firm Ashurst, Smith outperformed his competition, which included chefs from some of the UK’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
The competition, which was part of Hospitality Week, was streamed from Le Cordon Bleu where the 10 finalists competed for the title.
Smith’s menu started with Gilthead 'gazpacho' Heirloom tomato & cucumber, followed by the main course of Romney Marsh lamb, roe ravigote, fennel, samphire and aster. His dessert was Sweet Eve strawberry split, clotted cream, lemon and mint.
Chair of judges Paul Ainsworth: “It is a real honour to be chair of judges and crown Nick Smith as the winner. When I took on this role, I could never have imagined chefs would be facing the extreme challenges this pandemic has brought. It’s hit our industry hard, but the fact these chefs put themselves forward to compete, despite such uncertainty in their professional and personal lives, is so inspiring.
“Winning NCOTY is about more than cooking delicious food, it’s about being an ambassador for your industry and supporting others. We need winners like Nick to show the world what an amazing industry hospitality is, to encourage others to want to be chefs and to incentivise people to work hard to achieve their own personal dreams.”
On his victory, Smith said: “This is my fifth National Chef of the Year final and winning the competition was my ultimate ambition. It shoes that perseverance really does pay off. I can’t express enough what this means to me, my team at Ashurst and to our sector as a whole. The calibre of chefs and the quality of food we produce in the workplace environment for our clients, their staff and guests can sometimes be overlooked. I hope this shows the extent of the talent and passion and the quality of the catering that corporate chefs and caterers produce.”
Vacherin’s managing director Phil Roker said “Nick is a remarkable member of the Vacherin team at Ashurst. This competition means everything to him and he has given it his all. He really is a true ambassador for workspace catering and is a fantastic mentor for the trainees, apprentices and students who join Nick and the team to gain work experience. All of us at Vacherin are incredibly proud of him.”