Top Scottish chef takes runner up spot in UK’s National Chef of the Year competition


A TOP Scottish chef has been named runner-up in a prestigious competition marking the country’s best chef.

Derek Johnstone, head chef at Borthwick Castle near Gorebridge in Midlothian, was the only Scottish chef to have reached the finals of the highly respected industry competition.

Derek Johnstone (C) Image supplied

He secured the runner up position in the Craft Guild of Chef’s ‘National Chef of the Year’ competition.

The winner of the Craft Guild of Chefs ‘National Chef of the Year’ competition was Steve Groves, Head Chef at Roux at Parliament Square.

The Scottish chef finished in second place among the 10 finalists after taking part in an intense cook-off on Tuesday at The Restaurant Show at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre.

Last month, the chefs were presented with a mystery basket containing the ingredients they would use to create their menu for the competition final.

Borthwick Castle exterior (C) Image Supplied

Derek’s three-course menu, including pan fried fillet of sea bream, roasted saddle of pork, and vanilla poached William pears with clementine and Valrhona dark chocolate impressed the judges, who described Derek’s dishes as “balanced and packed full of flavour.”

Speaking today Derek said: “It’s every chef’s dream to compete for the prestigious National Chef of the Year title, and thanks to the support and backing of the team here at Borthwick Castle, that dream has become a reality.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in the National Chef of the Year 2020 competition from start to finish – it’s been a wonderful experience, and I’m thrilled to have been a part of it. I’d also like to say congratulations to Steve on a very well-deserved win.”

From L-R David Mulcahy, Sarah Branagan, Steve Montgomery, Derek Johnstone, Mark Lombard, Alex Hall and Gary Jones

David Mulcahy, Vice-President of the Craft Guild of Chefs and organiser of the competition, said: “It was very close for those sought after top spots. The National Chef of the Year is one of the toughest culinary challenges and it was neck and neck throughout.

“The judges were impressed with Derek’s approach to the brief and he used a high level of skill, with all three dishes being balanced and packed full of flavour. It’s a difficult competition which is judged by some of the UK’s most accomplished and Michelin-starred chefs.”

Derek launched his career at a young age, winning the inaugural series of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2008. He later honed his skills working alongside Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche and Albert Roux at Chez Roux.

The National Chef of the Year competition is the UK’s most prestigious and respected culinary contest.

Launched in 1972 and judged by a panel of more than 40 respected chefs from across the industry, previous winners include Gordon Ramsay, Alyn Williams, Mark Sargeant and Luke Selby.