WorldSkills UK chef cooking

For chefs working in startup food businesses, established restaurants or working as personal chefs, culinary cooking competitions are a great way to make a mark in the world of food and drink. Chefs of all levels compete to showcase their skills and talents, challenging themselves with cuisines, culinary skills and creativity.

There are numerous chef competitions in the UK and abroad, each aiming to challenge chefs in unique ways. The winners are rewarded with accolades and prestige – a great way to get your name on the map.

Here we’ve collected the best cooking competitions for chefs, explaining when and how to enter, and a little about why you should think about entering.

MasterChef: The Professionals (2023)

Website: MasterChef: The Professionals (2023)

Who can enter: Professional chefs over 20 years of age (as of May 1st 2023), with at least 2 years experience as a chef OR NVQ Level 3 or equivalent in professional cookery.
When to enter by: Applications are currently closed for 2022. They are likely to open for 2023 later in 2022 with a closing date in April 2023.

Masterchef: The Professionals judges panel

Details

MasterChef: The Professionals is an opportunity to stake a claim to fame while challenging yourself as a chef. In this culinary competition, you’ll be judged by Gregg Wallace, Marcus Wareing and Anna Haugh, all well regarded chefs themselves; Monica Galetti announced her departure in 2022. You can compete as a solo chef, with or without a food business behind you.

MasterChef: The Professionals has been broadcast since 2008. Heading up to its 15th season, it is a highly pressured competitive environment taking place over several weeks with skills and knowledge tests, along with invention and restaurant catering challenges. While not your typical chef competition, it is a worthy chance to show off your skills in a public setting.

Bake Off: The Professionals (2023)

More Details: Bake Off: The Professionals (2023)

Who can enter: Adults aged 18 or above (by 1st January 2023). Professional, working chefs over 18 years’ old with an expertise in pastry/patisserie.
When to enter by: Applications close 20:59 pm (GMT) on 16th September 2022.

Bake Off: The Professionals judges

Details

Previously known as Bake Off: Creme De La Creme, this is a competition for two chefs working as a team. Each duo consists of a Team Captain who is of senior/head pastry chef level, and a Team Mate of any other professional level. Each team also represents the Team Captain’s current employer – or if they are not employed a name will be given.

While this is not a typical chef competition, this is a unique opportunity to test your skills and build your names as chefs. As with the other Bake Off series, this is televised, and so you must be available for auditions and then filming, over ten weeks, if you are successful.

Roux Scholarship (2023)

More Details: Roux Scholarship (2023)

Who can enter: Employed chefs aged between 22 and 31 (as of 1st February 2022). Applications should have NVQ level 3, or their 706/1 and 706/2 or equivalent qualifications, and have some training in the UK.
When to enter by: Applications open 7th November 2022, and close 31st January 2023.

The Roux Scholarship judges

Details

“The Roux Scholarship is more than just a competition; it is an opportunity.” This is a competition for chefs who want to test their skills, showcase what they bring to the culinary world as a unique chef and who want to broaden their technical skills.

This competition has multiple stages, including an online application, recipe judging, regional finals and national finals – taken under exam conditions. The prize for this is £6000 and “an invitation to cook and train under the supervision of a leading chef at a prestigious three-star Michelin restaurant anywhere in the world for up to three months”. Additional prizes are also offered to winners at the various stages of the competition.

World Skills UK: Culinary Arts Cooking Competition (2023)

More Details: World Skills UK’s Culinary Arts Cooking Competition (2023)

Who can enter: This is a competition for individual students or apprentice chefs entering the culinary arts.
When to enter by: Registration is typically open between the end of February and start of April each year. Applications are not yet open for 2023.

WorldSkills UK chef cooking

Details

The competition takes place as a remote or online test, followed by National Qualifiers, then, after a period of training and development, culminates in the National Finals. There is no limit on applications per organisation.

Three is the magic number of the Culinary Arts Cooking Competition. “Competitors must be familiar with the core competencies” and entrants must have LESS than three years’ culinary experience and be working towards a Level 3 qualification. They will also accept applicants who have received the Level 3 qualification in the last 12 months.

National Chef of the Year (2023)

More Details: National Chef of the Year (2023)

Who can enter: Any chef over 24 years of age.
When to enter by: Applications are closed for 2022, but have yet to open for 2023 – expected early 2023.

National Chef of the Year Judges

Details

Started in 1972, National Chef of the Year is a highly prestigious competition and counts many well known and regarded chefs among its previous winners, including Gordon Ramsay, Alyn Williams and Mark Sargeant. It has been such a success, they launched Young National Chef of the Year.

Each challenge is judged on the day at National Chef of the Year (NCOTY), with previous skills and personality cast aside. It is all down to how the participants interpret the ingredients and the menu they create for the judges on the day.

For the initial stage of 2022’s NCOTY, competitors were asked to create a “three (3) course celebration menu for 2 covers within 2 hours. The menu should reflect a 50th year celebration of this competition through your interpretation of the criteria”.

Royal Academy of Culinary Arts: Master of Culinary Arts (2022, 2025/6)

More Details: Master of Culinary Arts (2022)

Who can enter: You must be a full-time employed “chef, pastry chef or in restaurant management and service”, with 10 years’ experience, with advanced skills, and have trained others.
When to enter by: Applications are closed for 2022, and the competition is underway. This competition takes place every 4 years so expect to hear about applications opening again once this year’s winners are announced.

Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Judges

Details

Unlike many competitions in the culinary sector, this one doesn’t take place every year. The last Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) was in 2017, before 2022. Chefs for this competition are given ingredients ahead of time and then asked to create the best dishes possible.

Previous winners of MCA include Anthony Worrall-Thompson and André Garrett. It is considered one of the biggest and most elite competitions, and focuses on challenging the individual to showcase their expert culinary skills.

S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition (2022/23)

More Details:

S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition

Who can enter: You must be a full-time employed “chef, pastry chef or in restaurant management and service”, with 10 years’ experience, with advanced skills, and have trained others.
When to enter by: Applications open in February and close at the start of July each year.

Details

For the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition, they ask you to “communicate your unique creativity and vision to the world” with a signature dish. This can be a main course only and has otherwise very few restrictions on ingredients or style – you are not allowed to use “endangered species, animal blood or edible gold”.

This chef competition is judged by a Grand Jury, known as the Seven Sages, all world-renowned chefs themselves.

Ready to get cooking?

If you’re ready to put your knowledge and skills in the kitchen to the test, there is no time like the present to enter a chef competition.

Cooking competitions span all skill levels and offer numerous awards and accolades to participants, all in the name of helping them become the best chef they can be. Remember, chef competitions are about taking part and challenging yourself is part of the joy of competing, it’s not just about winning.

Even if you’re not taking part, it is worth considering staying abreast of these competitions – whether it be through watching MasterChef: The Professionals or simply noting who is winning and what has made their cooking stand apart.

Staying up to date on the latest techniques, ingredients and food trends will enable you to keep developing your skills, elevating your dishes and delighting diners.

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