Meet the National Chef of the Year 2019 finalists: Kuba Winkowski

The Staff Canteen

National Chef of the Year 2019 finalist, Kuba Winkowski is head chef at The Feathered Nest Inn.

Originally setting his sights on the financial world, Kuba realised his passion for gastronomy after working as a kitchen porter for two summers in Sydney. From here, Kuba spent three years at Broadstairs learning the culinary trade. During this time Kuba took part in various cooking competitions, both in the UK and France, and completed stages at Le Gavroche, Rhodes 24, Buckingham Palace and The British Embassy in Paris.

His first full-time job was as a commis chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saison under the tutelage of Raymond Blanc and Gary Jones. Kuba joined The Feathered Nest as a sous chef in 2010 before being promoted to head chef in 2012. Under Kuba’s guidance, the restaurant has been awarded 3 rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide.

How did it feel to get through to the final?

When my name was announced as a finalist I felt relieved and very happy. I think because I have reached the final last year I had more pressure on my shoulders to do it again.

Why did you enter National Chef of the Year (NCOTY)?

Because it is an amazing challenge – to push yourself, learn more about our craft and to see where you stand in comparison to other chefs in the country. Another great side to the competition is to meet the top UK chefs and get them to taste and judge your food.

You entered NCOTY last year – how helpful was that experience and what did you learn from it?

Reaching the final of NCOTY last year was a massive learning curve and the experience was very helpful. This year I had a much better idea of what the judges are looking for, what the semi-final and final is like, how much space I have got to cook, what equipment I needed and so on. Last year, I had underestimated how much work, time, energy and effort the preparation that this competition needs.

The great thing about NCOTY is that doesn’t matter what the outcome is, you are becoming a better and more skilful chef.

Have you entered any other competitions apart from NCOTY?

Before NCOTY I took part in few competitions as a student. I have won the Escoffier Challenge in London in 2006 and 2007, the Caterer & Licensee Student Chef of the year 2007 and the Wessex Salon Culinaire in Bournemouth. I also was awarded the 2nd place in Young Chef of European Union 2006, Hotel Beaulieu, Nord-pas-Calais, France.

Knorr and Unilever Food Solutions are proud to be longstanding sponsors of the National Chef of the Year competition. The foodservice industry is a significant and important part of Knorr’s business and we’re proud to have been by the side of culinary professionals since 1838.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th September 2018

Meet the National Chef of the Year 2019 finalists: Kuba Winkowski