Thomas Swaby is the Craft Guild of Chefs' National Chef of the Year 2021

Craft Guild of Chefs CGOC

The Craft Guild of Chefs

Premium Supplier 21st October 2021
Craft Guild of Chefs CGOC

The Craft Guild of Chefs

Premium Supplier

Thomas Swaby is the Craft Guild of Chefs' National Chef of the Year 2021

Following one of the closest ever battles for the National Chef of the Year title, a new winner was announced tonight at a prestigious VIP screening of the cook-off at the Everyman Cinema in Broadgate, London. 

In one of the toughest years for our industry, over 150 guests watched the hugely anticipated moment when it was revealed that talented chef , Thomas Swaby had wowed the judges with his stunning three-course menu.

Thomas’ starter was roasted maitake chawanmushi, mushroom ketchup, roasted maitake, nasturtiums, pickled enoki and mushroom tea . British suckling pig with Orkney scallop, burnt apple puree, spinach, Chardonnay vinegar mash, apple, shallot and pig sauce was the main course he served up with a dessert of sticky toffee pudding. 

He was formerly head chef at Inverlochy Castle, Fort William but will shortly be taking up a new and exciting role in the Caribbean for six months.

Finishing very closely behind in second place was Adam Smith, sous chef at Gravetye Manor with Ben Boeynaems , executive chef at The Beaumont Hotel, London, completing the top three in what is regarded as one of the toughest culinary challenges for senior chefs in the UK. 

The brief for the final was for each chef to tell their story of the pandemic through food.

Menus had to include a vegetarian starter incorporating ingredients on the KNORR® Future 50 Foods list.

These ingredients have been identified with the support of the WWF as having a positive impact on the environment, by improving the diversity of the crops we consume as well as having excellent nutritional credentials. 

The main course focused on supporting British suppliers on land and at sea with a dish incorporating both meat and fish, whilst desserts had to reflect the start of the pandemic, when ingredients were sparse, and households turned to baking for comfort. 

National Chef of the Year winner, Thomas Swaby said: “ Earlier this year, Paul Ainsworth created a thought - provoking brief which tackled many important issues. I was most excited about the Future 50 Foods starter as the pandemic has encouraged us to find new ways of cooking and eating and it ’s important we all address the issue of sustainability.

"National Chef of the Year is the most prestigious cooking competition in the UK and that is reflected in the quality of the judges we cook for so winning this title is an absolute privilege.” 

Chair of Judges, Paul Ainsworth commented: “When I set this brief, it was hard to know what kind of dishes we’d be tasting at the final as the criteria was so personal to each chef, all of whom are on their own culinary journey.

"I left it open to interpretation as I wanted to see how the chefs demonstrated their style of cooking, personality, and creativity.

"This not only led to some amazing cooking , but these menus will truly go down in history, highlighting the incredible culinary talent we have here in the UK.

"Choosing the winner went down to the wire but Thomas gave us everything we were looking for; three delicious and stunning plates of food, a real focus on sustainability and loads of passion coming through his dishes.” 

Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and food innovation & sustainability director, Sodexo UK and Ireland, David Mulcahy added: “Whilst running a competition during a pandemic has been challenging, it has led to some exciting changes which have improved the overall experience for the competitors.

"Holding the final behind closed doors, ahead of a VIP screening created a calm, more relaxed and focused final which gave chefs and judges the time to absorb everything and look at every detail. 

"We carefully selected a dynamic team of judges some of whom have been part of the panel for many years, for others it was their first experience of the event. The twelve menus and impressive finalists created a real buzz in the kitchen with lots of debate on such a diverse range of dishes. ” 

As well as taking the sought-after title of National Chef of the Year, Thomas also takes away some incredible prizes and opportunities to enjoy over the next year including: 
 - The winners medal 
 - As headline sponsor , KNORR® Professional will support Thomas with the opportunity to create his own digital recipe book as well as receive a media training session or provide a £7,500 prize fund towards his own development project. 
 - An exclusively designed winner's plate framed together with the winner’s medal as well as an additional prize of £500 worth of Churchill products. 
 - A culinary trip from CCS (Continental Chef Supplies) alongside former winners of National Chef of the Year which will provide an inspiring celebration of the UK hospitality and food industry.

It will include exclusive Michelin-starred fine dining meals at some of the UK's most acclaimed restaurants, plus unique artisan producer and heritage farm visits and activities. 

 - Courtesy of Rational, a Dick Premier Plus 11 Piece Knife Set with Roll bag. 
 - Membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs.

Chefs and industry friends can see what happened in the final by watching the show on the National Chef of the Year website at

The National Chef of the Year is run in partnership with KNORR ® Professional and supported by CCS (Continental Chef Supplies), Churchill, Rational, Valrhona and Le Cordon Bleu.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.