Meet the National Chef of the Year 2019 finalists: Thomas Westerland

The Staff Canteen

National Chef of the Year 2019 finalist, Thomas Westerland is head chef of The Brasserie at Lucknam Park Hotel

Thomas’ love for food came at an early age, but his first insight into a professional kitchen came a few years later working part-time as a kitchen porter in a local pub whilst studying at catering college. This was followed by stints at local pubs and restaurants in South Wales before he was offered a chef de partie role at Lucknam Park. Under the guidance of Hywel Jones, Thomas was able to rise up the ranks to become head chef of Lucknam Park’s The Brasserie, a role he remains in today. Earlier this year, Thomas was awarded the prestigious title of National Chef of Wales. 

How did it feel to get through to the final?

It’s hard to explain the feeling that I got when they announced my name as a finalist. After being a heat winner last year and being one of the first names to be called, the suspense of waiting until the end to hear my name again was crazy. When they did call my name, I was ecstatic. I don’t think anything could have wiped the smile off my face.

Why did you enter National Chef of the Year?

The reason I entered the National Chef of the Year was to see if I could claim the title. Earlier in the year, I was crowned National Chef of Wales and after winning that, I thought it would be an amazing achievement to claim the National Chef title too. After competing last year and seeing what it takes to win, I know what I need to do this year.

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

Competing in the final last year has defiantly given me an edge on the competition. I knew what dedication and work are needed in the run-up to the competition and how much planning is needed. I also learned from the feedback that you need to take risks and really focus on how good all three dishes are. You can’t win with one good dish, they all need to be winners.

Have you entered any other competitions before?

I have competed in the South West chef of the year, Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Awards for Excellence, I also competed in the National Chef of Wales three Times. The first year I placed 3rd, the second year I placed 2nd and this year I placed 1st and was crowned National Chef of Wales 2018.

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 28th September 2018

Meet the National Chef of the Year 2019 finalists: Thomas Westerland