Larry Jayasekara is the National Chef of the Year 2016 winner

The Staff Canteen

Larry Jayasekara has won the prestigious title of National Chef of the Year 2016

Larry, who is senior sous chef at Petrus, part of the Gordon Ramsay Group, beat seven other talented chefs to win the title following a nail biting live final at The Restaurant Show.

National Chef of the Year 2016, Larry Jayasekara

National Chef of the Year 2016 

Larry Jayasekara

It's third time lucky for Larry who said: "I've been walking past the competition for 14 years and I never thought I was good enough. I have to thank the team I work with and my family who I have put through this, I'm speechless!"

He added: "You have to be on the ball when cooking for chefs of this level, one mistake and you're out - I really wanted to push the boundaries this year. "I don't think any of us in the final had the edge, it was very close and it just came down to consistency and the dishes tasting delicious.

"It's not just about winning, it's about your career - you wait so long for something like this and to cook for these judges is unbelievable."

The finalists, Andrew Ditchfield, Pastry Chef, House of Commons; Paul Foster, Head Chef, Mallory Court; Adam Handling, Head Chef, Restaurant Adam Handling; Mark Kempson, Head Chef, Kitchen W8; Luciano Lucioli, Head Chef, Marks & Spencers Headquarters (Lusso - CH&Co); Lawrence McCarthy, Sous Chef, The Ledbury Restaurant and Martin Carabott, Sous Chef, The Royal Automobile Club.

They had two hours to prepare a three course creative, celebratory lunch to celebrate the Craft Guild of Chefs. They had to deliver a fresh pasta dish of their choice, a fish course using a whole sea bass and a modern twist on a classic tart. The Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year is considered the most prestigious competition in the UK so it was no surprise to see Chair of Judges Clare Smyth and other top chefs including Daniel Clifford, Claude Bosi, Monica Galetti, Nigel Haworth and Graham Hornigold, lining up to scrutinise the final eight’s creations.

National Chef of the Year 2016 - Paul Foster, Larry Jayasekara and Martin Carabott

National Chef of


Year 2016 - Paul Foster, Larry Jayasekara

and Martin Carabott

"We were looking for three really great dishes which were technically perfect." explained Clare. "And Larry delivered three delicious plates of food. This year there was great talent, technique and skill, which is really helping to raise the level of gastronomy in the UK.

"It's always extremely close and the level gets higher and higher each year - which makes it an exciting competition and a tough battle. The thing that really stood out to the judges was the desserts - they were exceptional this year."

She added: "We had judges who had never been a part of the National Chef of the Year before, Jonny Lake, Jocelyn Herland and Claude Bosi; they all commented on how fantastic it is and that they are going to encourage their guys to enter next year."

>>> Read: Gordon Ramsay and Clare Smyth announce new venture

This year, candidates were asked to prepare an innovative menu for four people, focusing on technical skills, seasonality and sustainably sourced ingredients. Larry's winning menu featured native lobster, leek, red pepper and yoghurt to start, followed by loin of venison, celeriac, Cavelo Nero and blackberries. His dessert was a chocolate coffee cream, pan roasted pear and crumble.

Young National Chef of the Year 2016 Danny Hoang

Young National Chef of the Year 2016

Danny Hoang

Also on the panel David Mulcahy, the competition’s organiser and Vice President of the Craft Guild of Chefs.

Before announcing this year’s winner he said: "I like to think that the Craft Guild of Chefs is getting stronger and better and is as relevant now today as it was at its inception in 1972. There was a strong focus on skills this year which I think you could see in the dishes today.

"I'm proud and glad National Chef of the Year is as strong as ever and Young National Chef of the Year is discovering and providing a platform fo the next generation of chefs."

The competition runners up were Paul Foster, Head Chef, Mallory Court and Martin Carabott, Sous Chef, The Royal Automobile Club.

>>> Read: The man behind the chef: Paul Foster

Danny Hoang from Colette's was also named Craft Guild of Chefs Young National Chef of the Year. His menu of quail, hake and spiced bread and butter pudding was deemed exceptional by the competition judges.

>>> Read more about Danny here

Mark Sargeant, Young National Chef of the Year ambassador, was delighted with the quality of cooking and talent demonstrated by the young chefs. He said: "This is my third year judging and it's always an honour. It inspires me on a regular basis and these guys are fantastic. They are talented beyond belief and they hold their own against the National Chef of the Year finalists; the food they produce is extraordinary."  

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th October 2015

Larry Jayasekara is the National Chef of the Year 2016 winner