Winkowski served a menu of native lobster, oyster emulsion, celery, sea herbs buttermilk followed by Yorkshire grouse, cabbage, foie gras, quince, celeriac, seeds and sticky toffee, lemon, clotted cream and walnuts for dessert. His dishes were ranked the tastiest by 21 of the UK’s best chefs, overseen by Gary Jones, executive chef from Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.
In the runner-up spot was George Blogg, head chef at Gravetye Manor with Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle taking the final podium place.
The cook-off was the grand finale after a series of challenges which started with an online entry in February where chefs were asked to create a three-course menu for two guests. Judging of the menus was done anonymously before the top 40 chefs competed at either Sheffield College or Le Cordon Bleu in June, to be whittled down to just ten. The panel of judges for the final included Tom Kerridge, Clare Smyth, Claude Bosi, Jonny Lake and Paul Ainsworth.
Henry Wadsworth, chef de partie from Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons was announced as The Young National Chef of the Year winner.
Chair of judges and executive head chef at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Gary Jones, said: “This has been a fantastic The National Chef of the Year final, with an exciting line-up of chefs from a variety of sectors. The chefs have really thought about the brief I set at the mentor day. As always, it’s been good to see former finalists returning as this shows persistence and tenacity, which is what every talented chef needs.”
David Mulcahy, chef organiser of The National Chef of the Year Award and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs added: “All ten finalists have done an incredible job, not only today but throughout the competition. To get to this stage, you’ve already beaten some of the UK’s best chefs. At each stage of the award, competitors have had the opportunity to connect with other chefs, judges and suppliers and this has helped them grow both personally and professionally.”
Winkowski’s prize includes a one-year membership to the Craft Guild of Chefs and the opportunity to create his own recipe book as well as receiving a media training session or receive £7,500 towards their own culinary development, sponsored by Knorr.
He said: “I am obviously super happy but for me the feeling of relief is immense. Coming back for a second time really helped because this time I knew more about the venue and the whole competition experience. This meant I only needed to think about the cooking. Winning isn’t just about me as I have an amazing team around me and it takes dedication from us all, including my commis chef who has worked with me for hours on end over the last few weeks. Everyone who knows me will be sick of lobster and grouse as I’ve made them taste my dishes over and over again. I am just so relieved the practice has truly paid off.”